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How to study with the Pomodoro Technique | Study Tips for Med Students!

In a world filled with distractions and competing priorities, mastering time management is often the key to unlocking productivity. Enter the Pomodoro Technique, a renowned method designed to supercharge focus and efficiency. This ingenious time-management approach has garnered a loyal following among professionals, students, and creatives alike. Stick around while I share with you my tried and tested study technique revolving around 3 basic principles + my most controversial study tip!

Principle number 1. Know your chronotype.

If you read the amazing book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, you will be familiar with the terms Lark and Owl. Are you a morning person? Or are you a night person? I am definitely a morning person so that’s when I plan my most labour-intensive revision activities, which is basically learning new material or new guidelines. If I have the day off, my mornings will typically be with a book, but if I’m driving to work – I’ll use an audiobook. And if only there was an excellent audiobook with cross-referenced guidelines that I could listen to in the car…. ;) in the evenings though I’m happy to practice cases and do some online test questions for example.

Principle number 2. Work and Breaks

Pomodoro is a great idea. 25 mins work and a 5 mins break and then repeat. And that works quite well for a lot of people. Personally, my ratio is an hour and a half and then a 30 minute break and I will typically do 4 of those in a day. But what’s important here is to avoid doing what I would call “fun” things in your 30mins break – so that means no computer, no phones, no Nintendo. You are pretty much so bored, but not studying, that you can’t wait to get back to your next 1.5h. Nonetheless, I feel that that period of inactivity as it were is crucial for your brain to recover.

Principle number 3. Sleep

Back in the day, there were these romantic notions that the only way medical students could survive med school was by working in the day and then staying up all night studying. I personally have never pulled an all-nighter and I have also never failed any of my medical exams. And trust me, I’m no genius. Sleep is by far one of the most important things when it comes to consolidating knowledge, and you need to make sure you get plenty of it. In this video I talked about resources that I send to patients as a GP and one of them is a 1 pager with the basic sleep hygiene principles. If you don’t know these already, please follow the link in the description below and your mind, body and soul will thank you.

Finally, I promised you a bonus at the end, here is my most controversial study tip, especially among the study body. Don’t drink alcohol, at least not before your exams. And I’m not worried here of you getting so drunk you decide that you actually do remember how to do a kickflip down a flight of stairs and don’t even make it to your exams. It is the detrimental effect alcohol, even in the slightest, has on sleep and therefore on the consolidating we talked about previously. If you have any Polish friends, ask them what Zakuj, Zdaj, Zapij and Zapomnij means, but that order is crucial.

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