This article is written in 2 parts to help both hygiene students and practicing hygienists find more balance in their life and help with lifelong education.
PART 1- BALANCE:
The idea of having balance in hygiene school might sound like a mythical idea, right up there with "unicorns" and "unlimited free-time." I'm here to say it can exist, it just might look a little different that you imagined. The keys are 1. Priority Management and 2. Efficient Study Skills
Time blocking is crucial to your success in hygiene school and it must be done in the right order, which is:
The Essential -> The Necessary -> The Nice- To- Do
Make a list of the ESSENTIALS or your highest priorities/values. These are the things that you need to be functioning at your full capacity. Yours are unique to you, but some common essentials are God, relationships, personal growth, and health (exercise, diet, sleep).
Plug your essentials into your calendar first.
I can already see your panic followed by, "But you don't understand! I don't have time to do ANYTHING else." Here is the truth: You don't have time NOT to.
The ironic thing about hygiene school is that often times people neglect the very things that would make them perform far better, more efficiently, and most importantly, avoid burnout. Here is the secret: It's not the amount of time you invest, but the consistency of living your values.
Get creative and don't budge. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, just be consistent. If you absolutely can't do the 45 minutes you wanted at the gym, do 5 minutes of exercise at home. You're building a habit. I personally like an idea of the MTO approach to setting goals. (Check it out HERE.) I also found the book "The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod to be life changing. You can even listen to it on your way to school if you need to.
Get creative and think outside the box to live your highest priorities. Listen to audiobooks on your drive to school. Have your spouse join you at the gym so you not only squeeze some exercise, but a date as well!
Now budget the necessary things into your calendar. These could be study time, grocery shopping, going to class, study groups, ect.
Add in the activities that are fun to do. Movies, your favorite television show, or social media could all fall into this category. You know what they are, but they should NEVER come at the expense of your necessary and especially not your essentials.
PART 2- EFFICIENT STUDY SKILLS:
Getting starting with studying:
Even with your time budgeted, it is sometimes hard to get started studying. Here is a truth I learned from Tiffany Peterson (productivity expert):
PROCRASTINATION = OVERWHELMED
If you are procrastinating, you are probably too overwhelmed to start. The antidote to help with procrastination is "chunk it down into bite sizes so small that there is no way they can be overwhelming." For example, unzip backpack, put arm in bag, grab book, open book, read three lines, read another three lines. Seriously, are any of those tasks individually that big of a deal? Nope!
Another method that has proved to be highly effective is to set a timer for 15 minutes and just get started. When the timer goes off, you have the choice to stop but at least you have started! Let's be honest, starting is the hardest part.
PRACTICAL STUDY TIPS:
I noticed something very interesting in hygiene school: the amount of time put into studying did not necessarily equal high grade or an awesome score on the board exams. I found this perplexing until I observed THE KEY DIFFERENCE between those that put a lot less time and had great grades and those that put in a ton of time and struggled. The students that did well learned the material inside out before moving onto the next page. Meaning, they could explain what they just read. Try it! After you read a page, explain it out loud (or in your head) to yourself.
Other that struggle spent hours going over information but not really learning the material. They were left recognizing everything and KNOWING nothing. They were left fooling themselves that they would do well because "they put in the time".
REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW
After you know the information, it is critical to review. Not just review, but also review at the right times. Follow the 1-1-1 rule. For maximum retention, one should review 1 hour after learning new material, within 1 day of learning, and again in 1 week.
A lot of students love making flashcards. I'm a fan of flashcards if they are executed correctly. The problem with flashcards is that sometimes you only learn the information one way (the way you wrote it on your note card) and when it's asked differently on the test, you are stumped. The other problem with flashcards is students tend to shuffle their cards over and over going over cards that they already know. There are two remedies for these that have been super helpful for may students I've helped- q-cards and note-card-stacks.
You ask and answer the question on both sides of the card. For example:
Side 1: What vegetable is high in potassium?
Side 2: Which mineral is prevalent in sweet potatoes?
Go through all of your notecards and sort them in 2 categories: 1. DID know the Answer, and 2. Did NOT know the answer. Go through Pile 1 again. If you get the correct answer again, discard. If you do not get the correct answer, place the card in Pile 2. Then, pick up Pile 2 and sort through again. Keep going until you confidently know each card.
Hygiene School is a lot of work, but with "priority management" and effective study habits, you don't have to just survive.. it's possible to thrive!