Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Study Mantra

With at least one exam a week for the past year, I like to think that I'm fairly decent at studying. It's just become apart of my routine and without even realizing it I developed a few rules to help myself cope with the difficulty of dental school. So I'd like to share my study mantra with all of you with the hopes that it will help someone else out there. 

Be a Realist...not a Perfectionist 
While you should strive to be the best, it's not always realistic to do so with what you are given. Coming from college, I was accustomed to achieving a certain level of academic excellence. I did all of the readings BEFORE class, I answered every book review question, and went to professors office hours just because. I was a little obsessive about making sure I crossed all the boxes. Not the case with dental school. I'm at school a minimum of 40 hours a week; Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM. While the material we cover isn't necessarily overly difficult, we only have short amount of time to grasp all of it; in comes the weekly exam. At first I put all this pressure on myself. I would feel terrible about not being able to pay attention for eight hours straight of lecture. And when was I supposed to make time to read those 200pages this week?  It didn't take me long to realize that being a perfectionist wasn't going to work. I had to become a little more realistic about what was possible (while maintaining my sanity). So I joined a note-sharing group, have become an expert skimmer, and learned to be more realistic about what I can and can't do in a weeks time. 

Procrastinate..No Seriously Go Ahead 
This probably sounds crazy, but I'm a proponent of procrastinating (to a certain extent of course). Just because I'm dental school, it doesn't mean it should take over my life to the point that I lose all traces of my identity. So I regularly participate in what I like to call productive procrastinating. If you feel the need to procrastinate, it's most likely because you need a break. Or if we're honest...you just don't feel like doing it. That's when it's time for me to find something to feed my soul. Whether it be an impromtu trip or something as simple as a froyo run, an improved spirit provides me with a better outlook on the tasks ahead. Thus, on a given Saturday, I'm more likely to get more done if I go out to lunch with friends before studying, then if I try to force myself to push through something I'm not into. 

Stay Calm 
This one is the most difficult for me. It feels like we are flying through science material at warp speed. And the pace being kept for our dental lab assignments is even faster. Exams and practicals are constant and it's easy to freak out. But it's only when I panic about managing everything that my goals are impeded. A healthy amount of stress is good to help me motivate myself, but panicking (as I'm prone to do) does nothing but take my attention away from completing the task at hand. 

There you have it, my study mantra. It's taken me a quite a bit of time to get a handle on this and sometimes I still struggle. But things are much simpler and I'm actually performing better now that I've learned to be more realistic, accepted that it's ok to take time for myself, and learned to adapt to the stress instead of letting it weigh me down. 

As always, thanks for listening. 

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