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My Battle With Time

Jeffreywonoprabowo72x722Jeff Wonoprabowo -- Time is like water. You can see it. You can feel it. And when you think you have it under control, it slips through your fingers.

I've been having trouble concentrating and staying focused. At the end of day, I often feel like I wasn't as efficient as I should have been. Frustrated with my inefficient studying, I lamented about this to someone who recommended a book titled “Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It.” I was specifically directed to chapter nine which was called “Learning How To Tell Time.”

As I read the chapter I was constantly thinking, "Oh, that sounds like me sometimes." Okay, well maybe it sounds like me more often than not.

I have long accepted that I am a procrastinator. It may run in the family, I don't know. My younger sister tells me that she is this way, too. I think we do our best job when a deadline is looming overhead. And while this may be okay during high school and undergrad, procrastination can be horrible in medical school.

From the book I learned that procrastinators like me have a "'wishful thinking' relationship with time -- [I] hope to find more of it than there really is," and procrastinators "prefer to remain in the vague realms of potential and possibility."

Whether I like it or not, I am going to have to confront my "wishful-thinking approach to time." There are a number of things I've thought about doing to help me be more efficient and less prone to distractions.

1. Physically distance myself from distractions (e.g. go to the library).

2. Keep study and fun areas separate.

3. Actively use my whiteboard (I have a huge 4 feet by 8 feet board on my wall).

4. Try to make the material real to me by imagining a close friend or family member sick, or that I will have to teach the material to an imaginary teenager.

5. Take regular, short breaks.

So far, those are the weapons in my arsenal for my battle with time. How do you stay focused when you'd rather go out and play, read, or do something else? I'd love to hear any suggestions!

November 30, 2008 in Jeff Wonoprabowo | Permalink


Thanks for your article! I've got my 1st exam tomorrow (paediatrics OSCE) and I think this has been the worst lead up to exams so far in my med degree. I have always had a problem with procrastination, and I find that having a bit of adrenalin in my system always helps me to focus. Unfortunately the adrenaline has only just kicked in (usually it kicks in at least a week before exams!). Your suggestions are really helpful. Too late to use them this time around, maybe next year.

Posted by: Mel | Dec 3, 2008 10:55:21 PM

Just think in your girlfriend :P Large amounts of coffe and try love what you read... That's the secret... Well... I don't know I'm procrastinating right now my reading :S

Posted by: | Dec 3, 2008 11:26:58 PM

Hey I never comment on sites but I really felt like commenting here.

Actually TIME IS MONEY. We have to utilize it in this world so that we get benefits from it both in this world and the hereafter. Allah showers his blessings on those who help others and themselves too. And also worship Him with true heart. So catch your time and just fulfil these three tasks and you'll be on the top of the world, trust me :)


Posted by: Dr. Fatima | Dec 4, 2008 12:27:24 AM

Yeah, I also know all that, how to make you more efficient, but when it comes I have exams I simply cannot hang it out. There are so many things I would like to do, but for study medicine its obviously you shouldn't be interested in many things beside your love (medicine, off course) :) Ohhh......!!!

Posted by: Marijana | Dec 4, 2008 12:38:33 AM

This is so true about medical studies. I was almost flunking an exam because of my favourite past time - procrastination. U could try studying with a partner that might help too.

Posted by: Samia | Dec 4, 2008 1:20:44 AM

what a messaage directed at me personally. i think i will have to learn from you-from your five magic points

Posted by: | Dec 4, 2008 3:06:58 AM

I like the article that you wrote.I have learned many things. Things that in reality, really happening in the medical world... I'm a medical student and sometimes has trouble in management of time, concentration and staying focus on studies. At the end of the day, I feel frustrated and disappointed of myself.... But through the posts that I have read, I've come to realize that its true.It really makes sense!!! "Doing a little at a time....:) The statement that strucks me: "The goal determines the types of tasks, not their frequency." Guys, just remember this: "NEVER REGARD STUDY as a DUTY, but as the ENVIABLE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN." :)

Posted by: Aves | Dec 4, 2008 3:38:02 AM

I agree with an earlier post regarding writing down a to-do-list. I write several to-do's and then I slash them one by one and the more I see myself accomplishing the small tasks I set out to do, the more I find myself inspired to do more.
Sometimes I go to the library because it helps when I see people around me studying as well.
Other times, I recall why is it that I want to become a doctor in the first place. I go on medical missions or visit the hospital whenever I can so that I could be reminded of why I should take my studies seriously and NOT procrastinate.

But despite these, I am still struggling with time management :)

Posted by: Cory | Dec 4, 2008 3:54:35 AM

dats really true. eversince i remember i have been practising that. i got thru it in highschool, but in med school its gettn really really tough. its like i cant control it. i study in my room with not much distraction but i rarely focus. seems like i need some kinda exam on the way to be concentrated and study. i have now accepted thats just the way i are. eventhough i get a lot of stress during xam i guess imma kip on practising dat!!

Posted by: ismaela | Dec 4, 2008 5:22:26 AM

Thanx for the post, believe or not I only developed this problem when I got into Med school, never knew such a thing while working on my previous degree nor when I was at school!

As suggested above, trying to put some life into the material, by pretending to explain it to an imaginary friend or associating the case to a friend or relative does really help, I've tried it.

Putting mini goals, not only do they look a lot less scarier than the huge ones, they also tend to look achievable, and they do tend boost me up for more work as I feel I’ve achieved something by scoring them out!

Wish the best 4 every1 !!!

Posted by: Fatema | Dec 4, 2008 5:28:48 AM





Posted by: abhinav mohan | Dec 4, 2008 6:06:42 AM

Very good article. The funny thing is that, as someone stated before me, I'm doing this thing (delaying my study program) just now... And yes it's frustrating :(
What helps sometimes is the embarrasment of not knowing something when someone asks you a question and also the fear of making mistakes when it comes to the lives of humans... brr
Keep up the good work :)!

Posted by: monica | Dec 4, 2008 8:05:29 AM

Well, I learned in my Hospital that the best way of learning Medicine is Practicing Medicine. Making the Interrogation, the PE and suggesting the best paraclinical tests for your patient is the key of learning and to check which are our weak spots

Posted by: Carlos | Dec 4, 2008 10:52:04 AM

When I was in the dental school sometime I was

a procrastinator, I found that being occupied by

something else in my mind or being bored was the

reason behind it so I tried to separate my self

from thinking of the world around me & tried my

best in just living my own life with keeping in my

any distractions & also by having regular time outs

to eat, talk on phone or even just close my eyes..

This is my suggestions, I hope it can add something

to you

Posted by: Dr.Maryam | Dec 4, 2008 2:12:10 PM

Hi! It's great you posted this. I Have been a "daydreemer" almost always since ever and finished med school this year!! The most important things are already said: routine, small amounts, breaks, important issues first, and library!! reward yourself after a exam ;)) It's hard to sitck with it, but if you have a routine, you start getting into the system and at the end of the day you have a lot done. good luck

Posted by: Ana | Dec 4, 2008 5:20:24 PM

I think the secret is in the early morning , if you invest in the first 5 hours of the day 6-11 you well do what ever you can memorize more in these hours because you are both in a good healthy state and in hanger to new information .

Posted by: Mohamed Faher | Dec 4, 2008 5:33:57 PM

I always like reading your entries Jeff - some are strangely relevant to what I'm going through in first year. Especially regarding the procastination.

Posted by: A.B. | Dec 4, 2008 8:09:33 PM

quite a timely post...haha...but seriously, me gusta mucho.

Posted by: bdino | Dec 4, 2008 9:29:33 PM

I m the one who is suffering so much of my bad habit..i lost 6 months of my life due to such habit of procastination...it helps no one...no one...so friends wake up now or you will kill yourself n many a unlucky patients...that's it... however, you have to stop it right now...good luck...

Posted by: raju | Dec 5, 2008 3:44:01 AM

I eat the frog first that is a saying that means I do the worst task first then complete the other more enjoyable ones as the day progresses

Posted by: laura | Dec 5, 2008 4:44:16 AM

just ask urself y u r studying? if answer is coz u like it,thenur studies become a pleasure like a hobby..u never get bored wid smthng u like a lot. so go 4 it wid high spirits..al d best

Posted by: bhu | Dec 5, 2008 5:17:23 AM

Great suggestions everybody! I’m in nursing school, so I know that I can’t even compare what you guys are going through, but I can tell you it’s quite intense, at least for me .
I failed an exam recently, after having good grades the whole semester. Very disappointing! I was complaining that I studied a whole week, but now I realize that maybe I was only putting a lot of hours into it and not necessarily concentration. I’m planning to use your advices for my final.
Good luck to all!

Posted by: Angela | Dec 5, 2008 8:22:17 AM

these rules affectively change time mangement

Posted by: | Dec 5, 2008 9:54:16 AM

Hey, thanks guys.Procatination? a serious problem with me. I have learnt to start the study long before the exams to avoid PANIC attacks
What I do is reward myself (listen to a favorite song,take a walk etc) after frequent short bursts of reading each lasting about an hour. I imagine(not procastinate!) on the benefits of passing the exam(s) that are ahead. It works for me.
Rahux, you are one funny guy.

Posted by: Kamau | Dec 5, 2008 3:40:28 PM

Yes, the trick is to start early in the year (day one!), and do something every day, even if its just reading around a case you've seen. You can't study all day every day because you will burn out - its like training for a marathon, you need to build up and be aware of the times when you need to ramp up your efforts a bit. I find it works well when I do a couple of hours, then take a break eg take the dog for a quick walk, then a couple more hours (by then I'm usually over it for the day, unless I'm preparing for exams). And to all the 2pm snoozers out there - caffiene is your friend! Moderate amounts have been shown to improve concentration and performance. Excess just makes you jumpy.

Posted by: Kym | Dec 5, 2008 3:55:33 PM

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