Successfully navigating the halls of dental school requires poise, commitment, and most importantly, organization. Progressing through our education, we have gradually been granted more personal responsibility to achieve our goals as we moved from high school to college and beyond. This responsibility has translated for an increasing need in one main area: organization.
Dental school challenges organizational skills to the utmost level and it is your responsibility to develop a strategy to achieve all of your goals while in school while working towards your DDS or DMD. The following tips can help you improve your organizational skills so you are more prepared to conquer dental school. Think of these tips as your Doctorate of Dental Surgery Strategy for achieving that difficult DDS or DMD.
Decide on a flexible platform calendaring system
Numerous calendar strategies exist in the world. From the traditional hand-written personal planner to sophisticated cloud-based software programs, there is a strategy for everyone. It is important to pick a calendar system that works for you. A system that works on multiple platforms is a necessity in today’s fast-paced world.
Programs like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar are valuable because they offer flexibility across different platforms or devices including web-based, app-based and downloadable options. While this may seem obvious, having a program you can access at your fingertips almost any time of the day is important. Such programs are designed based on a database, so once an update is made on one platform, the change appears across all platforms or devices you have.
Decide on a program to use and ensure it is downloaded and accessible across all devices you utilize.
Develop a personalized organization strategy
Once you have selected your calendar program of choice, develop specific tools to streamline and enhance the utilization of your calendar system. Think of Microsoft Outlook or similar programs as large toolboxes. There are numerous tools you could place in your toolbox, but having too many tools or not organizing your tools will lead to inefficiency and counter-productivity.
There are countless ways to organize your calendar. Examples include using color codes to associate calendar items with specific parts of your life. For example, you could have a blue category related to family. When you look at your calendar and you see blue, you will instantly associate the event with family and save time reading each individual calendar item.
Other examples include naming calendar events or files in all caps and using a consistent system. PCs and Macs name computer generated files in lowercase so naming files in all caps can help you more quickly locate your own files. Additionally, naming files using a consistent system such as listing the year-month-day before every file can help save time in searching for files.
Develop calendar organization tools to put in your toolbox and use them consistently.
Set up a weekly review
Set aside a time at the beginning of the week or at the end of the previous week to outline the week ahead. Enter the “WEEKLY REVIEW” as a regular calendar entry. Sunday evenings are a great time to have your weekly review. During your review, fill out your calendar to the best of your ability so you only have to make minor changes during the week. For example, link relevant e-mails to calendar items, write task lists within each calendar item, and setup reminder alerts.
The “WEEKLY REVIEW” should be an important and consistent event on your calendar.
Stay the course
Once you have chosen your calendar system, picked out your tools, and set aside time for a weekly review, it’s time to discipline yourself to follow your organizational system. It’s so easy to fall back to old ways and fail to develop a habit of utilizing your organization systems.
Focus on making your DDS Strategy a priority in your life and you will be surprised at how much more prepared, less stressed and more efficient your life will become!
For more life hacks to help jumpstart your school year, check out ASDA’s past Life Hacks Week posts. If you have hacks that you’d like to share with your peers, leave comments in the section below!
~Kendall Frazier, Indiana ’17, chapter president