Out of all the tried-and-true methods of movement planner that I have used throughout my pre-med years, the online planner has withstood the test of time. I used to be a fan of paper planners, but with integrated software between my laptop and my phone, it just became too easy to forget about my paper planner. For this blog, I will provide tips to boost your online planner!
Throughout college, I would often hear my role models say, “If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not going to happen.” Now that I am a graduate student, I understand the need to maximize every second. By scheduling tasks and events in my calendar, I know I will remember it as well as account for it when I prepare for my day.
Figure out what works for you.
My online planner of choice is Google Calendar. I find Google Calendar integrates easily with other event-planning software such as Eventbrite or Facebook. I am also able to sync my school requirements. Lastly, with a Google Pixel, I can easily speak new events into my calendar.
Other online planners include Outlook, Google Keep, MyStudyLife, or Apple Calendar. Try out different brands to find what fits your unique schedule and tasks.
I am a visual person, so color coding is the best way for me to keep track of my time. Here is an example of my calendar below. It looks rather scary, but the different colors include different facets of my life, including simple things like eating or sleeping. I use red to denote examinations or quizzes, green or brown to denote my coursework, blue for social activities, orange for Medical Redhead commitments, and pink for research commitments. Choose a color scheme that is intuitive. Keep it consistent. When I started my post-bacc I noted volunteer events with yellow. In doing so, I realized I could track my volunteer hours this way for medical school applications. It is an accurate and easy way to compile commitments I need to reference later.
Don’t forget to prioritize social events. Design your schedule like you should your plate. The more colors, the healthier you will be!
Fill out as much information about your time commitments as you can in the calendar.
I cannot tell you how often I have sat down for a nap only to have my phone ring, reminding me I was to be at an event in one hour. If not for my phone, I would have forgotten the event. By having information like location synced up, my Google Maps was also synced. I did not have to spend extra time looking up the event or planning for traffic. Because my online planner could alert me across multiple medias (my laptop, my phone, etc), I could immediately get ready and head out on-time.
Give yourself breathing room.
This applies to self-care just as much as it applies to scheduling events. Account for traffic and breathing time between major events. By allowing at least 5 to 10 minutes of meditation in between each task, you can eliminate feeling rushed between back-to-back events. Do not forget to overestimate traffic.
Living in a metroplex, overestimating traffic with my schedule has allowed for much grace. I often lived ‘on the edge’ in undergrad, darting from extracurricular to extracurricular. By the mid to end of my day, I was so rushed or burnt out, I was unable to give my full attention to my tasks. Now, by allocating breathing room, I am in a much better place physically and mentally to give my fullest attention to the task at hand. My productivity is much higher which leads me into my last point…
Choose a planner that makes it easy to reflect on. Your productivity will thank you for it!
Ironically, plan time in your planner for ‘Planner Reflection Time.’ I personally chose to do so each Sunday prior to bed. I assess my upcoming calendar for the week. This action allows me to confirm approaching appointments, budget out my workload, and revisit long-term goals. I also scan through my email to ensure my calendar is as up-to-date as possible. This task will take up 30 minutes of my Sunday, but I reap the benefits for the next 7 days.
Once this task is done, I can smoothly go about my week with a solid understanding of expectations that are set out for me. I recently learned of the Zeigarnik effect through a blog written by my role model Dr. Joannie Yeh, MD (@betamomma).
The Zeigarnik effect is the phenomena that writing down incomplete tasks improves productivity.
So what does that make our online planner? A powerful tool to aid our productivity! Relieve yourself of all the mental work it takes to remember every single task or event. If you have trouble remembering to eat lunch, plan it. If you have trouble taking too much time to answer emails, plan it. If you have been wanting to try that new Zumba class, plan it!!
Best wishes as you begin to develop your unique planner.
We are capable of completing whatever we want to complete. So please, prepare for it and go do it!