In this time of wrapping up classwork and preparing for finals, if you are anything like me, you feel overwhelmed, burned out and well, sick of it all. Don’t take this the wrong way—I love my classes and my nursing buddies, but after a intense semester, I think all of us are ready to give it a rest. But how can we fit in all the studying and final papers in before the end of the semester? I have found one little secret that can make things a bit more manageable and not lose your head in the process.
A few years ago, I read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. It is all about changing the way you think, or more simply, your philosophy. The author talks about having an attitude of doing a little action every day, and in time, all those little actions add up to something big. I know that you are thinking “But I have five finals and 250 pages to read and two papers to write. I have to do A LOT every day!” I totally get it. But are you going to jam everything into one day, or are you going to divide it up to do some every day? Hopefully the latter. Think about this question:
Would you rather have $1,000,000 today or be given a penny today and the amount would be doubled every day for a month? Hmmm…you may think $1,000,000 today, but if you chose the penny, you would have $5,368,709.12! Kind of mind boggling that a little done every day can make such a big difference.
So what can you do a bit every day to end your semester with a bang? Here are some things that help me:
- I drive to school three days a week. That’s at least three hours in my car. I use that time to listen to recorded lectures. Over a whole semester, that’s more than 48 hours (2 days!) of on-the-road learning!
- A week or so before an exam, I learn one piece of information really well before I go to bed. It could be a concept I have been having trouble with or some lab values I will need to know. I don’t spend more than five minutes on it and then hit the hay. I review it again when I wake up. It totals an extra 35 minutes a week of focused studying. I used this method to learn normal electrolyte values and will never forget that potassium should be between 3.5-to-5.0 mEq/L. I know, riveting!
Think of the slight edge as “a simple, positive action, repeated over time”. I liken this concept to when I decided I wanted to go to nursing school. It seemed like the prerequisites would take forever. But two classes every semester—even summer—and I was done in a year and a half. I still look back at that prerequisite list of Anatomy & Physiology, Chemistry, Psychology and Microbiology and I still can’t believe I did it.
So go ahead and figure out what little steps you can take every day to end the semester with gusto. After classes are over, try incorporating it into some non-school aspects of your life. Personally, I started doing 25 squats, 50 sit ups and a 30-second plank five days a week way back in May. It took a whole three minutes every night. Do you think I feel better (and have a less flabby tummy) today having completed 3,750 squats, 7,500 sit ups and an hour and 15 minute plank since then? You bet I do.