Vet school often makes me feel like there is just not enough hours in the day, which means I need to find ways to eke out every last minute of the day and utilize it to the best of my ability.
Here are some of the best time-saving tips that I use!
- Meal prepping.
This has been a major time-saver. I function best when I have a decent-sized breakfast (i.e. more than like a granola bar), but that means getting up extra early to make breakfasts and pack lunches. And after school, when I’m in lecture until 5:30 pm, it means taking precious time after school to stop and prepare a dinner. I make big batches of breakfast burritos every couple of months, wrap them individually and freeze them. On my way out the door, I can grab a breakfast burrito and heat it up once I get to school.
I usually grab my lunch box and also prepare my lunch for the following day, so all I have to do is grab any refrigerated foods and throw them into my bag before I leave in the morning.
My roommate and I also started meal prepping for dinners too; we have a small freezer in our garage. This allows us to pull a meal out the night before (or even the day of and just defrost it quickly), with minimal prep time – it ensures that we are actually eating healthier meals, but we don’t have to worry about losing the time cooking a full meal every night.
In addition to preparing my own meals, I also always prep my pets’ foods the night before so that their breakfasts are ready to go when I roll out of bed. My dog’s water in her kennel and her Kong is stuffed and frozen overnight is also prepped beforehand.
- Outfit prepping.
Along with meal prepping, I also prep my outfits. I lay out any clothes that I need (and additional outfits for things like surgery, work, or if I’m planning to go see my horse and ride) so that way I don’t have to decide what I want to wear and waste the time rummaging around my closet in the morning.
- Early alarms.
I hate my early alarms, but I’ve come to love the time I can utilize in the mornings before class starts. Whether this time is used for getting in some extra studying, finishing up study guides or learning objectives, sending emails, or just getting organized for the day, I find that if I can start the day being productive, I am awake and ready to tackle the day when class starts.
- To-do lists.
Sometimes this seems like making more work and taking more time, but if I have a to-do list, it helps me to prioritize what needs to get done, and also makes sure that I’m not forgetting something (only to later remember at the last second and have to scramble to finish in time). At times it feels like I’ve got too many to-do lists, but they keep me organized both with what I need to get done for classes as well as things I have to do outside of school. Which brings me to my next point…
- Plan the out-of-vet school chores.
Have a day for grocery shopping. Plan trips for errands, house cleaning and other non-veterinary-related chores. If I don’t, I end up making multiple trips to the store for things I forgot, or running out of something in the middle of the week. Sundays are generally my grocery shopping and meal-prepping day; I make lists for random errands I have to run, and I try to plan them so if I’m headed in a certain direction I can hit up multiple stores in the area. If I don’t, I end up taking more time running all over the place trying to get all the things I need to get done to be a functional human being, and that often stresses me out even more because I didn’t use my time efficiently.
- Stay focused!
This is probably the biggest one, but also the hardest; there’s no magical solution to add more hours in the day, so even with all the shaving of minutes meal prepping and organizing grocery store runs, making sure I’m utilizing my time efficiently is still my best tool for time management. This means putting down the phone, closing out of Facebook, throwing on my favorite studying playlist Pandora station, checking in on my to-do list, and getting to it. I’ve learned I don’t need a giant chunk of time to get stuff done; even a few minutes here and there are useful to study a few concepts, make a few more note cards, send some emails or organize and re-vamp the to-do lists.
If I can’t find more hours in the day, I have learned that I need to find ways to make the most of the time I have. What tips and tricks have you come up with to save yourself time?