When I started this, my second year as an OT student, my group threw a welcome party for the new students. To continue the tradition, each of us gave advice to the new group to help them succeed in their first year. I had a lot of ideas in my mind, but this was the advice I ended up giving them:
Keep a positive attitude. When you feel overwhelmed, and wish to be out with your friends or family instead of having to study, think of these years as "separated" for your personal and professional development. In the future, you'll feel happy and proud that you really took advantage of this period.
This was the thought that helped me ( and still does) keep up going in those moments of frustration in which I had a thousand things to do and at the same time asked myself: why am I not at the beach or having fun with my family and friends right now? It's true that those moments of fun also come during the semester but, to be sincere, the moments when you feel overwhelmed come more often, so I couldn’t ignore them in my advice.
Now, I want to share some extra tips that helped me and maybe can help other OT students:
1. Never sleep less than 6 hours- You are not going to function well in classes or tests if you don't give a chance to your brain to rest and integrate all the material you studied. If you feel really tired, stop there. Those hours of sleep will help you understand better the material than studying all night without sleeping.
2. Identify your most productive hours and take advantage of them. My productive hours are in the early morning (4am), when there is no one at facebook, nobody calls me or sends me text messages. In two hours of study in the morning I can do more than in 4 in the afternoon.
3. Find your balance- Balance between studying and the rest of the things in your life is important, but it’s also very individual. Find out how much study time you need to do well without comparing yourself to others. Sometimes finding your balance can mean having less leisure time, because maybe in your case, you have too much. In my case, finding my balance means trying to study less and spend more time in my other interests. But, be careful, don’t take for excuse your search of “balance” to waste a lot of time resting…..you’ll regret it. You can do everything with moderation.
4. Make lists- When I feel like I have too many things to do, making lists usually helps me. I write down everything I have to do for the week, sometimes in priority order. That way, when I’m tired of working with something, I just look at the list, and start with something else. I am a lot more productive when I make "to do" lists, and the best feeling in the world is to scratch something from it!
5. Love what you do- If you don’t fall in love with the profession, my advice is that you don’t continue in it. If you really love OT, you’ll be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to become the kind of professional that your future clients deserve.
I know that I could have given you many more tips, but right now I have a lot of study to do, so I hope this can help.
With OT love,