The Balancing Act: How to Achieve Balance with a Busy Lifestyle

Hi, Premeds!

If anyone knows what busy is, it’s premed students. Premeds are constantly managing their academics, social life, extracurricular activities, volunteering, and work. All of these things are done in order to improve medical school applications and also gain experience in the clinical field. However, at times it can feel overwhelming to have all of these things on your plate. Therefore, it is so important to achieve balance with such a busy lifestyle.

For me, I constantly had many activities on the go throughout high school and university. However, I never really felt overwhelmed or out of control because I was always able to achieve balance, and I was able to do so because my organizational and time management skills. These skills are what helped me conquer my goals, complete my to-do lists, and still feel at ease.

Organization is an amazing skill to have, and is a skill that can be attained with some effort. I have heard so many say that the ability to be organized is an innate characteristic, and although this may come more naturally to some individuals than others, I really don’t think that’s true. I believe that anyone can improve their organizational skills if they work at it. I have some simple tricks that can really help improve one’s organizational abilities in order to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. In order to refine your organizational skills, I would definitely recommend putting yourself on a schedule, creating timelines for your goals, and planning ahead for the future. These easy tips will definitely help you attain a balanced life and help you feel in control of your responsibilities.

Scheduling is an easy way stay on top of all of the things going on in your busy life. I personally find that when I plan everything out, it gives me an idea of what my upcoming month, week, and day looks like, and it also allows me to fit in other things accordingly. Ever since elementary school, when I received my first school agenda, I have been scheduling. Even after I was no longer provided with an agenda from school, I still kept things organized on my phone calendar or in a planner. Whether it’s keeping track of upcoming assignments, work schedules, or other things I am involved in, I always have it all written or typed out in my planner or phone. I always feel at ease when I am able to look at my monthly calendars and see my upcoming events. This is an almost effortless way to keep track of everything that is going on, and seeing it all laid out makes it easier to plan when to accomplish everything.

Creating a timeline is another way to stay organized and help you accomplish your goals. This allows your dreams and ambitions to become reality since you are creating deadlines for yourself. No longer will you find yourself saying, “I need to write the MCAT” or “I’m thinking about applying to medical school,” because you will know exactly when you want to do so. An easy way to make timelines are by creating “modified checklists,” where beside each task on your list you also have assigned deadlines. Just remember that we are humans and not super heroes. Make realistic timelines. It’s not possible to complete 30 large tasks in one day, or even one week. A more reasonable strategy is to accomplish three small things a day (morning, afternoon, evening), or one large task each day or week, depending on the workload. Setting a realistic timeline is one way to stay motivated and organized, especially since you will be driven to achieve your goals by the assigned dates.

This last pearl of wisdom about organization may be the most important when it comes to finding success. This is key when it comes to refining your organizational skills, and it’s planning ahead. I know that it is very important to cherish each day and live life in the moment, but when it comes to pursuing medicine you need to plan into the future. The process of applying to medical school is lengthy and has so many different requirements that need to be planned for. Honestly, I always tell people that they need to start planning the moment they decide that they want to be a doctor. I began planning in the seventh grade, and I knew exactly what high school courses I needed to take, what to major in in university, when I was going to write the MCAT, etc. I believe that was one of the reasons my journey was so smooth. I knew everything I had to do way before I had to do it, and I knew exactly when I needed to start doing it. I know it sounds overwhelming, but anyone can achieve their goals with a little bit (… a lot) of planning and researching. I am not joking when I say that Google is your friend. Google everything. Google medical school requirements, the application process, and all the other things that will help make you a competitive applicant and stand out among the thousands of other qualified candidates. Planning is what allows you to be on top of all of your responsibilities, and ultimately be organized! If anything, consider planning out your future and considering the requirements for medical school as soon as you can. This will allow you to prepare your application and be a competitive applicant.

Time management is another essential skill and it too can be improved with effort. Managing your time is one of the keys to success because even the best of us fall victim to procrastination, which puts you behind and hinders your ability to achieve your goals. I have some easy tips that can really help redefine one’s time management skills in order to feel balanced and at ease. In order to improve your time management skills, I would encourage being positive, surrounding yourself with a goal oriented group, and taking time for yourself. These easy tips will definitely help you attain a balanced life and help you feel in control of your responsibilities.

Positivity is so important when it comes staying motivated and avoiding procrastination. You have to think of yourself as qualified and capable, so that you will envision yourself achieving your goals. If not, you may find yourself in a state of self-destruction, where you will ultimately lose all motivation. Believing in yourself is what will fuel your drive and help you accomplish all your tasks. It can be hard continuing to push through all of the school work, extracurriculars, and whatever else may be on your plate, but without keeping your spirits up you will feel drained. I know it’s easier said than done, but an easy way to regain positivity is to remember why you are doing this. Why do you want to pursue medicine? What makes you so passionate about this? Was there a moment that sparked your love for the field? Remember those things and reflect upon those moments whenever you feel down. This is a great way to regain your mojo and accomplish what needs to be done.

Many say that you are what you eat, but I think you are who you associate yourself with. I think that it’s pretty clear that when you surround yourself with certain people for a long period of time, you begin to pick up their mannerisms and even start to act like them. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if you surround yourself with good, ambitious people. Throughout high school and university, I surrounded myself with an amazing group of friends who were all goal oriented and motivated. We helped keep each other stay on track and always uplifted one another. We would create study schedules during exam time, and even plan out our weeks to ensure all of our assignments were done well in advance. This really helped me enhance my own time management skills because I would constantly learn from my friend group and feel driven to stay on top of my own responsibilities. Not only would my friends help me stay motivated, but I would also do the same for them since I had the same goals and ambitions.

Finally, it is so important to take time for yourself to reduce your chances of burning out. Mental health and well-being are so important when it comes to leading a balanced life. If you don’t allocate time each day for self-care, then you may feel overwhelmed and defeated. It’s so important to plan time each day, whether it be in the morning or before bed, to do something you love in order to relax. This will help you wind down and feel refreshed for your upcoming tasks.

Premeds lead incredibly busy lives with so many things piled up on their plate. Not only are there the academic tasks to keep up with, but there are also many extracurriculars, volunteer positions, clinical shifts, and research positions to manage as well. In my opinion, an easy way to achieve balance is to utilize your organizational and time management skills. Although some may find it difficult to stay on top of things, anyone can improve their organizational and time management skills with a little effort. It’s all about planning, scheduling, and creating timelines in order to achieve your goals. It is also important to surround yourself with a motivating support system, be positive, and take time for self-care. With all of these tips in mind, one can feel more balanced and in control of their life.

Let me know what you guys think! If you have any other tips on how to achieve balance in your busy life, comment below or connect with me on social media!

XOXO,

The Girly MD (to be)

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