"Med school is so easy!" said nobody ever. When you are in med school, things are intense! You have to do your lectures, labs, assignments, and more, and try to maintain a social life and give some personal time to yourself.
In the midst of all this, focusing on studying can be pretty tricky. You won't even know how the day went, and at the end of the day, you'll discover you didn't study at all. Hence, to avoid this, let's discuss the best strategies to avoid distraction and stay focused during studying.
- Apply Pareto Principle To Distraction
Our environment is filled with distractions that can hinder our focus. Hence everyone faces problems in focusing from time to time. The trick is applying the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, to the things that distract you while studying.
According to the principle, 20% of factors lead to 80% of distractions. So the trick is to find these 20% of things that distract you and intentionally eliminate them.
You can do this by compiling a list of 20 things distracting you when focusing on your studies. Then rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 according to their level of distraction. Once you create the list, select the 4 things with the highest distraction rating. Make sure to eliminate those distractions
- Have a "Start Time" and "End Time":
When you say, "I will study tomorrow!" it is the best thing you can do to actually not get anything done. Because you have not decided what and when you would like to study. This will lead to procrastination and a lack of focus.
Your body and mind love having a routine and set times for doing particular work. Hence, if you make studying a part of your daily life and allot specific times for it daily, you will experience a higher level of focus and fewer distractions.
You can do this by having a start and end time for your study routine. For example, if you start your day at 7 AM in the morning and have lectures and other school-related activities from 11 AM to 3 PM. Then you can create a 2 hours study slot in the morning, i.e., from 8 AM to 10 AM, and then another space in the evening from 3 PM to 6 PM.
So during these slots, your mind will know that it is study time. Then, once the time is over and you have completed your studying, you can give in to your distractions and scroll through Instagram without guilt.
- Don't Let People Distract You:
If you are studying in an environment where people are constantly interrupting and distracting you, you may need to change your study location or politely ask them to let you work.
And suppose you are the social butterfly who constantly gets texts and calls from your friends. In that case, you should ask them to not contact you during your study time unless it is an emergency. And once you are done with your work, you can socialize without having to worry about studying.
- Study By Yourself More:
Though having friends is fun, studying with them all the time can be distracting. So think about it, what will you be more tempted to do? Read a chapter of pathology or gossip with your friends?
The latter, right?
Hence it would help if you tried to keep the group study sessions to a minimum and focus more on studying solo. Nevertheless, group studying is good occasionally as it will help you and your friends rectify each other doubts and grow together. Just make sure to not overdo it.
- Take Breaks:
Taking breaks is as essential as studying. This is because studying continuously for long hours can lead to mental fatigue and decreased focus. But by taking appropriate breaks, you boost your productivity during your long study hours. Hence, you do more while doing less!
The amount of break depends from person to person. For example, some people continuously study for 2-4 hour stretches and then take a long break. Others take a 5 to 10 mins break every 25 to 50 mins during the entire study session, also known as the Pomodoro technique.
Though the latter approach is more commonly used and works for many people, you should try and test what works for you.
- Prioritize Your Healthy Habits:
When you have a lot of studying to do, like when exams are near, your healthy habits like exercising, journaling, walking, and meditation are the first ones that go out of the window.
You want to get as much studying as possible during these times. But you have to understand that you cannot study 24/7. After studying for a certain amount of time, doing it further will have diminishing returns.
Also, your healthy habits keep your body and mind fit and help you stay active and focused while studying. So make sure you perform these activities when you are taking breaks rather than watching funny animal videos.
- Remember To Congratulate Yourself:
Though you should not depend on motivation, it is always helpful to stay motivated while studying. It will help you enjoy your studies and stay focused for longer.
When you achieve your target, you can congratulate yourself by letting yourself have a treat that you usually don't allow yourself. For example, suppose you complete all your week's study tasks. In that case, you can treat yourself by going to a party, buying a new book, or anything else you like!
If you wish to get good grades in medical school, it is essential to study regularly. Failing to do so may result in bad grades and failure to achieve your goals.
Especially when you are studying for your USMLE steps, it is vital to have a peak focus level. Hence make sure to follow these tips to get an excellent score in your exams.
And if you want to simply your USMLE steps studying process and maximize your chance of getting a good score, check out your ArcherReview Courses and Qbanks for Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3.