1. Set aside the first day of the week for planning.
I always used Mondays to pull up all of my syllabi, look through due dates and the week’s readings, and created a game plan for completing everything during the week. If there was anything that was easy to get done right away, I would also get it done on Monday to make my to-do list as short as possible for the week.
2. Find someone (or two) to help keep you accountable.
Having one or two classmates that study similarly to you can be your greatest asset in OT school. While you do not NEED to study with someone every day, it is important to have someone reliable that you can compare due dates with, study material with, and stay on top of things with. Keep each other accountable, message each other as often as you need to make sure that you are getting your work done on time and understanding the content. It is also important to have a way of communicating with the rest of your classmates in case larger questions pop up. My cohort has a GroupMe that helped us greatly during classes and even now on fieldwork.
3. Set your space up for success.
I never studied at home. Ever. I can’t focus at home, and with that knowledge, I never even attempted to study there. Because of this, I kept most of my textbooks in my car, that way wherever I did study I had access to them if I needed but didn’t have to lug them around in my backpack. As for my actual study space, it took me a couple of weeks to check out all of the coffee shops and study spots at school before I decided exactly where I was most comfortable. I preferred a good sized table to myself or one other friend, so that I could spread out all of my stuff – laptop, iPad, coffee and snacks, and textbooks. I made sure I was in a spot where it wasn’t too hot or cold, the seat was comfortable, and preferably in the corner of the shop so that there would only be people in front of me or behind me, but not both.
Obviously you don’t have to do exactly as I did, but when I specified the exact environment that I liked to study, I say it to show how important it can be to have your environment set up to exactly to your liking. This will produce optimal productivity!
4. Bring drink options and snacks.
Studying while hungry = zero productivity.
Having to get up and go make a snack or grab a drink in the middle of studying = interrupted productivity.
Having a variety of drink and snack options already prepared for your study session? That’s the sweet spot. My favorites included a large cup of coffee, a water bottle filled with ice cold water, almonds, fruit, and something sweet (often a muffin from the coffee shop that I was inevitably studying in).
5. Schedule time for rest.
I never worked past 8pm in OT school except for the occasional late night study session at school before finals week. I set this firm stopping point because 1. I needed rest and 2. after a certain amount of time, there was no way my brain was retaining any of the information I was reading. I also scheduled in rest days (I would make sure my weekly to-do list was done or almost done before I took a full rest day), or I would schedule in an afternoon to do something fun, like go to the beach with friends, explore the town, or go to the movies. Small amounts of daily rest and periods of extended rest are incredibly valuable and can help prevent burnout!