Let’s face it, we live busy lives that won’t be slowing down any time soon. Even if you weren’t (or aren’t) on the path to becoming a doctor, life wouldn’t slow down:

  • Your fridge needs to be re-stocked. And oh shoot! The milk is expired…

  • Your laundry basket is overflowing as you grab the same shirt you wore yesterday. Hey, life can be a struggle sometimes…

  • And in honor of April, your taxes need to be filled. How lovely…

Now, add in the stress of being a student or resident where your to-do list never seems to have an endpoint. Sure, you may check off a few boxes today only to add more for tomorrow.

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As a former collegiate athlete who graduated with honors completing two majors, I became the “ultimate” multitasker. Many have asked me how in the world I was able to stay on track despite practice, conditioning, and traveling consuming a majority of my time.


Here’s a little “secret”:

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How? By setting yourself up to succeed, holding yourself accountable, and accepting that you’ll often have to sacrifice “fun time” for “work/study time”.

One of the best ways to do this is by making a daily to do list.

In college and in medical school before I went to bed, I spent a couple minutes writing my to do list for the next day. I am a schedule oriented person, which helps when you have minimal time in the day but have to get A LOT done.

By prioritizing my tasks from “must do” to “if they don’t get done the world won’t end”, nothing fell to the wayside.

Deadlines were met. Studying was done. Lab prep was ready.

I made a to do list that you can use if you’d like. You can definitely just grab scratch paper and write out your to dos, but I figured this may save you a couple minutes each day and who doesn’t love that.


Here’s how to use the Daily To Do List:


“Must Do” Section:

  • When you finish your day of studying and/or work, pull out the to do list. Take a moment to think about all that you need to accomplish the next day and decide on up to three”must dos”.

  • Why 3 and not say, 5? Because it forces you to think of what’s most important. Sure, many of your to dos are important but which are most pressing?

  • Listing up to 3 “must dos” also helps you to be realistic. Many of us are ambitious and want to tackle the world today but in reality, we have to take things in pieces. The goal is your 3 “must dos” are your top priority and what needs to get done. Thus by doing so, even if you don’t complete all of your tasks, you at least aren’t really behind because you took care of the most pressing items.

  • Examples:

    • Vastly approaching deadline for something like a paper.

    • Studying a subject you’re weak in or just don’t like. If you do it first thing, you’ll get it out of the way rather than finding every and any excuse not to do it later in the day.

    • Paying a bill. Avoid those late fees!


“Other Goodies” Section:

  • I tried to lighten the mood a little by naming this section “other goodies” rather than “more things to do” because knowing you have even more to do just isn’t fun…so “goodies” it is. It’s all about mindset folks!

  • Okay, this section is where you put your other tasks for the day i.e. what you want/hope to accomplish if time allows because you know that items #1 – 3 are priority and need to be tackled first.

  • Include things that you should be able to get done that day but just in case you don’t get to it, the world won’t end and you can bump it over to the next day’s to do list.

  • Examples:

    • Reviewing today’s anatomy lecture.

    • Reviewing that big stack of notecards I know many of you have lol.

    • Laundry.


“Today’s Reminders” Section:

  • Just as the title implies, put your important reminders for that day. Perhaps it’s an appointment, when to submit your assignment by, or what time your study group is meeting. Use this as you wish!


Grab your Daily To Do List!

To grab your Daily To Do List, simply enter your email address below and it’ll be sent directly to your email address. I hope this helps!


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