Study Tips

Time Management 101: How to get (and stay) organized while you're in school

Osmosis Team
Published on Apr 15, 2024. Updated on May 3, 2024.

The pace of learning while you're in a medical, nursing, or health school program is often compared to trying to drink from a fire hose. It's an overwhelming rush as a huge volume of knowledge comes at you. And, on day one, you may be excited to drink it all up, but at some point, you're likely to get drenched and overwhelmed. But don't worry! We're here to help you navigate the deluge and stay on top of your studies with a handy, helpful list of tips and resources. 

Improve Time Management Skills Using Learning Science

Did you know that in about an hour, you can learn invaluable skills that will teach you not just what to learn but how to learn more effectively? Watch the following videos to learn not only how to study smarter but how to retain what you're learning. (If you're not a subscriber, did you know we offer a free trial?)

  • We recommend you start with "How to study smarter," where you'll learn about where and what to study and how to set study goals. 
  • Next, on to "Cognitive load," where you'll hear about how to minimize extraneous cognitive load and how to get the good stuff into your long-term memory. 
  • Check out "Memory Palaces" to discover how visualization "burns" things into your memory. 
  • Move on to our "Testing effect" video, which covers why passive learning doesn't work and offers information on how to become an active learner.
  • Last but not least is "Spaced repetition," where you'll learn that repeated exposure to a topic can help reduce the forgetting curve and maximize retention.  

Our goal is to support the development of your foundational knowledge while helping you discover new and empowering ways to learn and grow as a clinician.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Time Management Tips for Understanding How to Prioritize Tasks

When it comes to time management, it's important to understand that none of us can multitask well. Instead of multitasking, focus specifically on the one thing that's your current priority. Believe it or not, you'll likely be able to do things faster and more efficiently. 

For example, let's look at some standard tasks for a nurse. If she first receives a call with a request, then looks at their chart to determine the right medication, gives the medication to the patient, and then documents what she did, she can easily focus on each task. However, if she tries to update the chart while giving the patient their medication or attempts to take a phone call from their bedside, she'll be far less effective, and she'll likely feel overwhelmed. 

To prioritize, give the Eisenhower matrix a try! Start by dividing your tasks into four categories: Urgent and Important, Not So Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not So Important, and Not So Urgent and Not So Important.

A graphic of the Eisenhower Matrix

Then consider the following scenarios:

You receive 1) a lab value with imminent health implications, 2) an out-of-range lab value, 3)  a notification that rounds are starting while you're with a patient, and 4) feel the need to check social media.

Which one is most urgent? Which is least urgent? How would you classify each of the above?

Most people would agree that spending a lot of time in the urgent and important category and not as much time in the not-so-urgent and not-so-important category makes sense. Many of us, however, spend too much time in the urgent but not-so-important category and not enough time in the not-so-urgent but important category. We spend all day putting out small fires, but if you can shift more of your time to the not-so-urgent but important category, you'll feel good about yourself because you're accomplishing things that are important. 

The top three tips for spending more of your time in the "Not so urgent but important" category are:

1) Remove distractions (e.g., turn off your phone and find a quiet spot).

2) Give yourself deliverables (for example, reward yourself after studying six of twelve topics).

3) Make yourself accountable (schedule a time to go to the gym with a friend, for example). 

Osmosis Blog Posts to Help Improve Time Management

Osmosis has many valuable blog articles that cover topics to help you improve your time management strategies and stay organized. Check some of these out: 

Conclusion

Time management is crucial for success in nearly everything in life, but it's imperative for aspiring health professionals training for in-demand fields like medicine, nursing, and health care. The sheer volume of information you need to learn is often overwhelming. However, you can get (and stay) organized throughout school and beyond by implementing the effective time management skills we've shared with you.

Be sure to browse the rest of the Osmosis from Elsevier blog for various helpful resources that can improve your time management strategies and assist you in maintaining balance in medical school. By utilizing these resources, you can achieve your goals, reduce your stress levels, and thrive both academically and personally.  Study well, and let us know how we can help you achieve more using Osmosis!

Resources

Azziz, A. (2023, August 16). Time Management 101: How to get (and stay) organized while you're in school. Osmosis by Elsevier webinar. https://www.osmosis.org/events/video/time-management-101:-how-to-get-(and-stay)-organized-while-you're-in-school