CRNA 126 | Manage Time In CRNA


Being in CRNA school is a true test of your time management skill. In a field where time is a precious commodity, it can be so easy to lose yourself squeezing the most out of every second. Here to help you learn how to manage time in CRNA school are guest hosts and current Nurse Anesthesia Residents Cordero and Monica. In this episode, they share personal tips and tricks on organizing your time spent on this journey. From utilizing Google Calendar to color-coding schedules to utilizing other helpful tools, Cordero and Monica show that it’s all about working smarter sometimes and not harder. Not only that, they also tap into the importance of having time for yourself, separate from the grueling responsibilities of a CRNA student. Whether you are juggling time for classes, studying, or living life, this conversation is surely a great resource for managing your time in CRNA school.

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How To Manage Time In CRNA School With Guest Hosts Cordero & Monica

I have a very special episode lined up for you. It is part of our Guest Host series where I am bringing SRNAs on the show for you as guest hosts. My thought process behind doing this is I wanted you to hear from a variety of students who are at different stages of their CRNA journey and allow you to step into their world- hearing them talk about what it’s like to be a student dealing with things like difficult preceptors, different anesthesia and clinical topics, and maybe even things like time management and stress management. These episodes are going to be gold.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I always do, hearing from students. I know for a fact that the reason why the show is where it is now and the reason why I have learned so much is from diving all-in, learning from students along with CRNAs who share a wealth of information and taking all of that information and compiling it into the system that we have created. I know that you’re doing the same thing by tuning in to the show week after week and developing your method, strategy, and system for success. I hope you enjoy these guest episodes. Let’s go ahead and get into the show.

I know how painful it is to have burning questions and not have the answers. CRNA School Prep Academy has played a large role in helping mentor you along your journey to becoming a CRNA. I also equally value every single one of you because you all in turn become mentors in the future. This is why I started Nurses Teach Nurses- Now called TeachRN! I know the power of mentorship, and I have seen it change lives. I believe every individual nurse has a role to play in mentoring future generations of nurses.

Nurses Teach Nurses is the only nurse-driven marketplace for nurses by nurses. It was developed by yours truly. I have a passion for mentorship, and I know you do as well. If you are looking for mentorship or if you want to become a mentor, you can earn income while doing what you love, which is helping fellow nurses. Head over to TeachRN.com and learn more about how to receive or give the gift of mentorship.

This is Cordero and Monica with A Couple Nurses. We’re doing a special episode. We are going to talk about some time management. That’s important because time management is different for everybody. Often, we get these blanket statements of, “This is how you should manage your time in CRNA school.” That’s not true. Everybody is different. Everybody’s mind works differently. We’re going to talk about some differences between how Monica and I prepare and manage our time because things are a little different for us.

I’ll let Cordero speak for himself but he is very particular on how he plans his days. He ends his days by planning. He starts his day by planning whereas I’ll be like, “I’m going to want to accomplish X, Y, and Z.” I know that sounds crazy, not responsible, and not very time management for CRNA school, especially as a graduate student but for me, it works, honestly. I try to commit to what I say I’m going to do. It’s such a big investment that you’re paying money for in CRNA school. It’s not like I’m going to be like, “I’m going to goof around.” Something that does work for me, and I started utilizing this when I started my didactic portion in CRNA school, was using Apple Calendar.

Planning Ahead For CRNA School Classes

When they released the syllabi a few days before class starts, I open them all up and read through them. I see, “These are when the assignments are going to be due. This is what we’re going to be learning in class that day.” I’ll transfer all that material into Apple Calendar. It syncs with my phone. I set reminders. I set the times that I’m going to be in class. I set the times that I have my exams and things of that nature. When we go to class for the first day, and they’re making all these changes on you, then I adjust my calendar the way that it needs to be so it can be perfect. I love it. For me, that works.

That’s the most time management that I do for myself but when it comes to being in deep eighteen-credit-hour semesters, that’s what I experienced in my 1st and 2nd didactic semesters. They’re super heavy credits. I didn’t change my planning. I used Google Calendar. I would talk to myself, “I need to spend X, Y, and Z amount of time on this class. I’m not understanding this concept.”

Something that worked out for me in terms of my mindset was saying, “I can’t put all my eggs in one basket either. I have to ensure that I’m putting not necessarily an equal amount of time into all my classes but some time into all of my classes when I’m in an eighteen-credit-hour semester.” You can’t neglect a class. You may be having an A1 class and struggling with your other class as this test comes up. You need to adjust your time management in a way where you’re going to put a little bit more focus on those areas that you are struggling with.

That’s how I go about it. It’s wild. There’s not a lot of order to it. I’ve always been like that when I was younger throughout nursing school. That’s how I functioned, and it works. I know that sounds crazy but I’m the one that plans all our trips. I’m like, “We need to go here at this time.” He’s the person enjoying the trip and didn’t think about anything that we’re doing or anything like that. My planning works. It’s not for everyone. It’s a little chaotic but that’s how my brain is organized.

It’s very interesting that you even put things on a Google Calendar. I know that took you a while to even do. It wasn’t until your third semester or something like that.

I didn’t do that in my first six months of school. I never did that for nursing school either. I’ve tried getting a planner. Cordero has bought me tons of planners. It’s getting to a point where even if we’re at Target or something, I’m like, “This is a cute planner. Let me get it.” He’s like, “You’re not going to use it. It’s a no.”

I remember I bought a planner one time. I came home and was like, “I’m about to plan my days.” She’s like, “What about me? You didn’t give me a planner.” I went up to Walmart the next day and got her a planner. That thing had dust on it. For the next six months, I was like, “I’m not doing this again.” It happened again. She was like, “You didn’t give me a planner.” I got her a planner again. Dust. You don’t want a planner.

We don’t use planners over here.

I don’t use Google Calendar. I don’t know why. It’s a lot more energy and work. I like to write it down on a paper planner. It feels more tangible. When you write it down, you’re like, “I’m writing this down. There’s no way that my computer fails, technology gets hacked, or anything.” It gives me security. Whenever you can see the stuff that you’re writing out on the planner during the week, you’re like, “This is a heavy week.” It feels a lot more real because when you’re on Google Calendar, all those things overlap. You can’t put all your stuff in there either. If you have a Google Calendar strictly for school, there’s other stuff going on too. You still have life going on.

A CRNA in an operating room preparing for surgery
Manage Time In CRNA: On a paper planner, there’s no way that your computer fails or technology gets hacked or anything. It just gives security.

There’s a little personal icon. I’ve known how to manage it and tailor it for myself. Pink is Monica. I’ve color-coded all my classes. I am organized. I color-coded that with my Notability on the colors. If I have a doctor’s appointment, a dentist’s appointment, or a trip coming up, I do that in pink. When I’m on the phone with my dentist, for example, and I’m like, “I need to schedule a cleaning,” I can go in, and since it’s synced to my phone, I can be like, “I have all these classes. I have this test coming up for the yellow color.” Yellow is anatomy and physiology. I’m like, “I can’t be in the dentist for two hours.” I am organized, just to let you know.

It’s not ideal for a lot of people but I have synced it to where it’s meshed with my Notability. I’m able to recognize these colors. It works for my brain. I don’t like to call myself scatterbrained because even when I was in the ICU working, I wasn’t a person that was like, “Meds at 11:00.” I have a good memory. I would look at my charts. It’s two patients. I didn’t take three patients. I would look at what I had to do. Do you know how Epic would have little icons and stuff like that? I got to do this. Every 2 to 3 hours, I would check it again. It worked.

You have a pretty good memory, which serves you well. On the other hand, I tend to forget little things. The little things turn into big things. For example, you came here in these Skechers shoes I was supposed to take back to Target. It’s a little thing. That’s one of those things where I’m like, “I’m going to get to it.” If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. It’s a gift and a curse. If it’s on the planner, 9 times out of 10, I’m going to get it done that day. If it’s not on the planner, it gets filed into the junk mail of my brain. It’s spam.

It’s back there. We’re not reaching that point. I’ll mention it, and you’ll be like, “I don’t remember you saying that.” I’m going to start recording our conversations. For him, honestly, it does work. We will be going out. I’ll be like, “Don’t forget to do this.” He will be like, “I won’t.” I’ll take a pause and say, “Go ahead and put that in your notes. Go ahead and put that in your phone so you don’t forget and set a timer so it can remind you.” It works. That’s his system.

When I have dead time, sometimes I will go and look at my to-do list. I’ll be sitting around not doing anything. I have a to-do list always on my notes, “Here are a few things that need to be getting done.” That helps whenever you tell me to put it on my to-do list for sure.

How would you explain it to people either starting or struggling with time management when it comes to classes? I talked about how I try to decide, “This time, I’m going to plan out my day and how I’m going to study for these classes and how many hours I’m putting in.” How would you explain to somebody that works in the way that you do? You’re super organized in terms of dividing your time adequately or evenly throughout your classes or spending more time on one class than another?

Prioritizing Tasks and Coursework

That’s one of those things you have to get a feel for when you start getting into school because all these classes are demanding. The very first thing we do when we start the quarter is look at all the syllabi. It takes probably about an hour and a half if you’re looking at the syllabi, “I have three big assignments due for this class. These are the dates that these assignments are due.” You put that in your mind. You start crafting your plan for the next month of how much time you need to put toward that. You start looking at your other classes, “I have a test every two weeks in this class. I may need to spend a little bit more time on this course because it’s six credits compared to a two-credit course.”

You plan your first week out. You see how things are going in that class. You start seeing, “Do you understand this concept?” Some concepts you understand well. Some concepts you don’t understand well. For example, I have to spend a lot of time on neuro because neuro is not a strength for me compared to cardiac. I get the heart. It makes sense to me. Whenever we go through cardiac things, I’m like, “The heart is a pump.” I get it but the brain works so differently when you start talking about blood flow, oxygen metabolism, and the brain parenchyma. “How does your volatile anesthetics affect that?” There are so many different things going into it.

It’s not a hard and fast rule but you have to say, “Where am I strong? Do I understand this? I can’t spend ten hours on this one subject. I still have a paper to write.” It’s one of those things you feel out. I can’t say this is the way that you should do it but you cannot spend all day on one class. I can’t. Most people in my class can’t do that. You have to at least put an hour or two toward something else because eighteen credits are the classes you love too.

It sounds like we’re on the same page even though we plan our time differently. That’s to show you that you may be a type-A or type-B personality but at the end of the day, the effort that you put into your classes is going to be the same throughout. You need to be conscious about not spending an entire day on one class. Do not get me wrong. The way that I function is if I have a test on Monday, my next test for another class isn’t for another week, and then the next test for that one is probably the week after or three days after, that weekend is going to be heavily focused on that.

I may touch an hour and a half on my other class but you better believe that on Saturday and Sunday, it’s ten hours straight for the class that I have that exam for. You’re touching and feeling out your weeks. It’s a day-by-day thing that you’re feeling out. You finish your day and ask yourself, “Do I know this stuff?” You start mentally quizzing yourself on things that you were covering for that upcoming exam or in general, you were studying a topic that day and being like, “I need a little bit more work on that.” That’s going to be the first class that you hit that next day.

I wasn’t spending time in every class every day because my brain doesn’t work like that. I would pick two classes because I usually would have 4 classes and 1 online or something like that. I would pick 2 classes and attack 2 classes a day. The next day, I attack two different classes. You learn how to manage your time in that sense, especially when you have upcoming exams.

For those online classes, especially when you’re working on your DNP, part of that DNP coursework becomes a little time-consuming. It’s a lot of papers. It’s a lot of writing. Something that’s helped me with my time management is utilizing certain tools like PERRLA, things that can help you reference your papers, and Grammarly to make sure that it’s overlooking the grammar on your papers and helping you correct things. You get to graduate school, and it’s all about working smarter sometimes and not harder and not stretching yourself out so thin.

Another time management thing that I would do with those online classes, especially those research or DNP coursework online classes, is I’m looking at what I have to do within the next few weeks. Usually, those classes, at least for me, are spaced out pretty well for the most part. I am a little ADHD. I was like, “I have to get this done.” In the first week of school, I’m knocking out discussion boards, discussion posts, and papers ahead of time. I’m spending good quality time on these assignments but I’m making sure that I’m trying to get all this busy work out of the way.

That way, I can focus all my time on those heavy physiology courses and pharmacology courses. That’s something that I do. I wasn’t necessarily able to knock out an entire course, and sometimes I was, but I got pretty far in advance to where I felt less stressed, and I didn’t have to put in so much time into that class while I’m studying for an upcoming physiology exam or pharm exam.

You touched on that. It’s huge. Get the discussion posts done at the beginning of the week so you can study for those hard sciences the rest of the week. I don’t like being in the middle of the week and having to worry about trying to write a 300 to 500-word synopsis about some theory. That did feel like 500 pages sometimes.

Some people will be like, “Where do I put it?” Write your discussion board, reference everything, put it in a Word document, date it, and set a reminder to do whatever helps. When you do that, it takes such a load off. Even when I wasn’t in my didactic portion and I first started my first six months, it was heavy writing courses on top of stats. I honestly don’t even remember. It was a while ago. I would write my discussion posts ahead of time and put them in Word. It made my summer run so smoothly. That’s how we were still able to take vacations and enjoy our time. I wasn’t in the sand trying to finish a paper because I had completed all those things ahead of time.

I started CRNA school. We were on a cruise ship, and I was studying Anatomy.

We were on vacation. We still had a great time partying. We went to the club every night. As a partner, I’m supporting my husband who’s in CRNA school. I’m in CRNA school as well. You help hold each other accountable. That’s so huge because you could be such a distractor if you want. I could have been like, “Let’s rage at the pool,” but I would wake him up early or tell him, “Set your alarm. You need to study. You need to go to the library. You need to purchase the internet. Isolate yourself, study, and put in work.”

He wouldn’t drink or anything like that while he studying. He took it very seriously and put in about six hours. It sucked. I didn’t get that full day with him but honestly, it was better for me because from 2:00 to 3:00, we were able to have a blast. It’s not only about time management. It’s that support system that you have with you that’s holding you accountable and ensuring that you’re reaching your goals because that can make such a huge difference versus having somebody that’s distracting you.

It's not only on the time management, it's on the support system you have that's holding you accountable and ensuring you're reaching your goals. Click To Tweet

Having a Routine Can Help

Another thing that’s different in our time management is how we plan our days. You have a big goal or understanding, “This one needs to get done,” and you go after it. I have my days planned out. Most of my mornings look the same. I usually get to studying at about 9:30 or 10:00. My morning started. I got my little workouts in. I’ve meditated. I have my day planned out. I’ll put the next four hours toward my pharmacology and then have a little break in there for an hour and a half. I’ll come home, walk the dog, and have the next 2 or 3 hours. It will say, “We’re going to study principles.”

I’ll have a little one-hour break, go to the gym, and come back. I’m going to put an hour toward my translational research class and then work on my discussion posts for the next hour. I’m done by about 8:00. I’m chilling for the rest of the day. It’s important for people to understand too. That’s a framework. It’s always malleable. It’s not something that’s set in stone. When I was doing this, I would get very frustrated. I was like, “I didn’t get my stuff done.”

“I didn’t hit my goals.”

I’ll be losing it. I’ll be infringed at the hinges. Monica is here. I love that you’re here but my days look different now. It’s okay to switch up the days. I understand now I may be studying longer. I may be going until 10:00 or 9:30. My day doesn’t have to stop at 8:00. Being able to be flexible is also important in our career because we may have this beautiful anesthesia plan, go in, and be like, “This is perfect,” but things hit the fan. You may need to switch things up and be okay with that.

Even as you’re getting ready to start clinicals from what I’ve heard from numerous mentors and people that are already in the field, you prep for clinicals. You spend hours on the care plan. You’re like, “My preceptor is going to be so proud.” They’re going to be like, “This is stupid.” They’re going to change everything, and that’s okay. You have to roll with the punches. I’ve heard things like a case gets canceled that you did your care plan for, and then you get thrown into a different case. You need to be able to be flexible, moldable, coachable, and teachable and be able to roll with the punches. That’s key.

I always talk with my advisor. He laughed at me when I first mentioned this. It’s almost like a Mr. Miyagi movie, “Wax on, wax off.” School sucks, and it teaches you how to manage a lot of personal stuff and your time. You’re going to learn. If you don’t learn, you’re going to sink. You need to learn very quickly. On that Mr. Miyagi theory, you’re setting these building blocks for yourself.

On my time management, I have felt so much growth. You’re forced to survive in a sense in the settings that you’re being placed in while you’re in school. Once you grasp the concept of your time management, it’s up for change. It’s going to change on you, and that’s going to be okay but how you react when things don’t happen the way that you’re planning them to is what builds that character.

Everyone can follow a pamphlet. Everyone can follow instructions. Everyone can be told what to do or be like, “I’m going to do this,” but when things don’t work out like that, you’re not understanding a concept. You need to spend extra time in class. Your case gets canceled. I haven’t been there yet. I’m about to get there. That has built so much character for me.

It has taught me to chill out. You don’t have to have everything perfect. That’s something that I’m personally trying to work on. I’m not saying I’m perfect at all but I’m talking about it in the sense of when you plan things out and you expect things to go in a certain way. You have to be okay with it. Sometimes you have to change things around and move things around.

Know what the non-negotiables are too. You need to put in five hours of studying for this particular class, regardless of whatever else you have going on, regardless if your dog gets sick, regardless if you got a flat tire, or regardless of anything. Life still goes on when we’re in school but you know that you need to put in that time for that day, “I can be flexible but I still need to get this done.”

Avoiding Distractions

Another key ingredient to time management specifically when you’re studying, not just planning out your days and things like that is to put your phone away. I’m the meme queen. I love posting memes related to how I’m feeling that day or week. It may look like I’m on my phone all day but I’m not. I take 5-minute or 10-minute breaks every other hour or so. I’ll catch some sunlight. No matter how dedicated you are and no matter how much you say you’re not going to pick up your phone if it’s next to you, put it on Do Not Disturb. Turn it off. Lock it away in a box. I don’t care. Put it in another room.

That’s usually what works for me. The Do Not Disturb is key because a lot of us have our phones synced to our computers. Put it on Do Not Disturb because it could be something as sweet as your grandma calling you. You want to talk to your grams because you haven’t talked to her in a long time, “Grandma, we can’t talk.” Another time management thing is letting your loved ones, support system, friends, family, or whoever that may be for you know, “I can’t talk.” If they send you a message, say, “I’m studying for about ten hours. I’ll call you on my next break.” They need to learn and respect that.

That’s key. You can’t be the person that’s always trying to be there for somebody, especially while you’re in school because it’s going to eat you away. That 10-minute conversation is going to turn into a 1-hour conversation. The next thing you know, it’s two hours going by. You need to put your phone away and let the people that you talk to on a daily basis know, “I can’t talk.” They’re going to understand.

Nurse anesthetist with a doctor and nurses around a patient on an operating table
Manage Time In CRNA: That 10-minute conversation is going to turn into an hour conversation. Next thing you know two hours have gone by.

I’m surprised we haven’t mentioned that already. There’s a good book. If there are any SRNAs or soon-to-be SRNAs going to school, you should read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book talks about how to go into topics and focus. It goes into the neuroscience of brains but one of the key topics that they talk about is attention switching. Whenever you continue to switch your attention, it takes your brain about ten minutes to get into a flow. Whenever you switch to look at your phone or do anything and go back to your task, it takes another ten minutes. You’re putting yourself back as you continue to switch your attention.

One thing I would like to mention is I use Notion for a lot of my recall classes. Cordero plans out his time based on hours, and I do too mentally, but I’m very flexible with knowing, “I need another hour. I’m tired of this. I feel good on this topic.” I utilize my Notions. My Notions are long because I keep adding things from all the lectures. They’re separated into classes. Once I get to a halfway point on it, and it’s my first time hitting it, I’m like, “This is a good stopping point,” or I’ll repeat that entire section.

Once I’ve done it once or twice or whatever goal I set for myself that day, I go ahead and switch my class to the second class for the day. It’s a measurable outcome for me. That’s how my brain works, “I’ve done this much. I’ve accomplished this. It’s time to move on to another class. I feel good. I feel prepared on this topic.” That’s how I’m able to switch from class to class on a daily basis.

Free Time While In CRNA School

We’re talking about managing time in school but what about managing free time, gym time, and sleep? How do you do that? Is it still on the fly?

It’s still on the fly. I’ve lost some weight while I’ve been in school. I haven’t been the best with personal time. That can be argued based on what program you’re in. I had eighteen credit hours. You had fourteen credit hours.

It was a heavy fourteen.

It was a heavy eighteen. I had eighteen twice. I’m not saying it’s a competition based on different programs or anything like that. It’s how your programs are structured. Eighteen credit hours or five classes is hard. I’m not saying that’s an excuse. There are people in my programs that are gym warriors. They go every day, and that’s fine. They catch onto material probably quicker or they don’t. I don’t focus on other people but I’m saying it’s possible.

I’ve made a lot of excuses for myself, to be completely honest. I’ve suffered the consequence of losing a little bit of weight and muscle tone. It’s something that I’m still working on. I do better with classes. Money is tight whenever you’re in CRNA school, especially when you have a husband and a wife going to CRNA school. When the family is in CRNA school, it’s very costly.

It’s something where I was a little bit inconsistent. I have these weeks where I’m like, “I’m a gym head.” It does help your mental health. I do encourage a lot of people to stick to something like that but as far as personal time, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good pizza and some wine at night when I’m cooling it. That’s not every night but I don’t plan like you. Some days, I would go until 12:00, 1:00, or 2:00. That’s my cutoff right there but on some days, I would be like, “I’m good.” At 8:00, I spend those last three hours Netflixing it up. That’s my therapy. That’s what worked for me.

I’m able to push my limits in terms of studying and going longer because that’s how my brain works. Some people could argue, “Your brain stops working.” Not mine. I get this extended release throughout the day. It does work well for me when I do go late at night because I’m splitting my days into multiple classes, especially during those heavy eighteen-credit-hour classes. I did start getting a little bit better with giving myself days off. If that was just one day off, it was so nice. It meant going by the pool, being a couch potato, and taking care of busy stuff around the house.

Something I encourage everyone to do is give yourself 30 minutes to work out a day. I would cut myself off at 45 minutes. That was enough because I like doing HIIT workouts and stuff like that. Have 45 minutes a day and go to the gym. It’s good for your mental health. If I was to redo my journey over, I would put in more gym time. It’s good for your mental health. I realized that when I started going, I was still stressed but it was a different feeling. It wasn’t holding your shoulders down. It was like, “I can do this. I’m stressed,” instead of, “Can I do this? I’m stressed.”

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, a doctor and a nurse operating on a patient
Manage Time In CRNA: Definitely give yourself 30 minutes to work out a day.

The gym has been very therapeutic for me. It helps that I have classmates that I can go to the gym with.

It helps you. I’m riding solo, and that’s okay. I have people I talk to. That’s how it works out sometimes.

Try to get some gym time in if you can. Know that also you may not be able to go to the gym because school is a priority. It takes up so much time. There are times too when your classmates may be having events and going out for drinks or something like that but if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go. Don’t feel guilty because you can’t make it. Sometimes people pick up things better than you.

There have been times when I’ve gone out, and I’m out not having a good time because I’m like, “I should be at home studying. What’s going on?” You have to have good emotional regulation and know that being selfish with your time is huge because, at the end of the day, if you don’t do well in your class, it’s on you. You’re not going, “Nikki invited me out to the bar, and I had to go with her.” Your professors don’t want to hear that. You’re paying all this money for these classes.

I agree with the topic that you said. You see people going out and doing things on social media. They’re in school. You have to understand that everyone picks up information differently. You hear people saying that sometimes if you’re studying more than 6 to 7 hours, then you have poor time management. You don’t know how many credit hours they’re enrolled in versus what you’re enrolled in.

Make sure that whenever you are on social media, take things with a grain of salt. Realize that they’re not all in the same program. You don’t know what semester they’re in. You don’t know what classes they’re taking. You may have that much more free time when you are in a less-credit-hour semester. You can enjoy more outside, hang out with friends, and spend more free time, and you’re still busting your ass in school but you have a little bit more extra time.

Don’t compare yourself. When you compare yourself across anything while you’re in CRNA school, whether it’s grades, performance, who gets intubation, who doesn’t get intubation, or whatever the case may be, it’s like, “They’re going out all the time. I want to go out all the time.” You’re going to rob yourself of your happiness because comparing yourself is the devil. You need to understand that you are your person. You need to be selfish with yourself and realize, “I’m not understanding this topic. What do I need to do to get this down? I want to have fun.” Don’t compare yourself to people.

When you compare yourself to anyone about anything while you're in CRNA school, you're going to literally rob yourself of your happiness. Click To Tweet

The last thing I want to talk about is your breaks. Is there a time management element in breaks? Do you study during breaks? Do you go on vacation during breaks? What do you do with that time? Do you try to get prepared for the next semester or the next quarter? That’s a question a lot of people are thinking about too.

Every program is different. I was in school from January, the start of my didactic, to August. I was full-time but I was still able to work as well because it was a lot of online classes. When I’m referencing this stuff, I’m referencing it to when I started didactic. FYI for everyone who’s tuning in.

I wouldn’t say didactic. You mean in-person because you’ve been in didactic.

For those who are tuning in, what I’m referencing is once I started in-person core science classes, at least for my semester in my school. Everyone’s program is different, and they integrate different classes in different spots. When I started my in-person classes, that’s when my heavy eighteen-credit-hour core science began. Our first in-person semester in my school was from August until early December. I still have no idea why but we got five weeks off for December.

That’s why I’m saying it is very different for every school in terms of breaks. They said to us, “Make sure you enjoy this because you will never have a break again.” I was like, “Five weeks is such a long time.” Did I study? Absolutely not. There’s no real way to prepare in my opinion for these classes that are coming up because that’s what the instructors are there to do. They’re not there to spoon-feed you but they’re there to guide you in terms of what you’re going to be learning and diving into. I’m not going to study. I suffered for five months. I’m good. I don’t want to study.

Cordero and I had pre-planned already from saving up money from travel nursing a trip to the Dominican Republic. I went to Puerto Rico to see my family. I went to the Dominican Republic. We went back home to visit our parents. We had a hell of a break. I didn’t pick up anything to study because mine was five weeks. There was nothing for me to study, and I was not going to study anything. I was like, “I’m good.”

The other break that I had was our spring break. I came to visit Cordero and studied. It was necessary because it was a break in the middle of a semester. The next week, when I came back, I had two back-to-back exams. I was like, “I’m going to take a little bit of stress off myself, plan my notes, read ahead, and create my Notions. That way, when I’m in class, I’m not completely lost.” It helped. I was less stressed in 1 class and still stressed in 1 other class but it took off the double stress of 2 classes and 2 back-to-back exams. After I finished that spring semester, which was an eighteen-credit-hour semester, I ended up coming to visit him again. I don’t think I touched a book that time.

The overall umbrella of what you’re getting at is spending time with your loved ones. Every break, we’re together hanging out. It’s either us together or us with our family. For us, it hasn’t been going off and doing a solo trip. You do some of the studying during your breaks. I’m a complete couch potato on my breaks. You see me. I’ll sit down, be at the pool, and watch TV.

To answer the question, it depends. If my break is in the middle of a semester, I’m not going to not study. If my break is not in the middle of a semester, I’m enjoying that time off. Technically, I’m on a break but I’m not because I still have an online class. I still am doing some busy work and prepping for clinicals and things like that. It depends but the message that we’re trying to send across is when you get a break, please enjoy it. Even if you do have to study a little bit, that’s when that time management goes in. If you have to wake up a little bit early to knock out a session of studying, do so. That way, you can spend your time with your loved ones or you can spend your time on that solo trip that you do decide to go to or whatever the case may be.

When you get a break, please enjoy it. Click To Tweet

That will wrap up our episode. I hope you took some gems. The big takeaway is to find a plan that works for you. Be flexible throughout the semester and the quarter. Be able to focus on areas that you know you need to spend more time on. Are there any other takeaways on your end?

Don’t compare yourself to anybody. Honestly, be kind to yourself. There are times when these goals aren’t going to be met. You need to be able to mold yourself into things. That’s something that I’m still also working on. Small celebrations are important as well. Those little wins are as good as those big wins, and just because you don’t hit everything the way that you had intended to doesn’t make you less of a person than if you would have. Remember that whenever you’re going through a tough time, and you feel like you’ve been studying all day but you still didn’t get to where you needed to go.

We will talk to you next episode. Take care.


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