Tag Archives: college

How to Procrastinate Like a Pro

Even though I’m a very driven person, I am also a top-notch procrastinator. In high school I would wait until the last-minute to write all of my research papers. Often I was up early in the morning, finishing an article review or journal entry for an 8:00 a.m. class. I would stand around, clutching a Pop-Tart, cursing our printer as it slowly spit out my last-minute project. I always received high marks for the work, but I’m sure it wasn’t the best I could do. My procrastinating never really hurt me, so I assumed that it would be the same throughout college.

Must...get...paper...done...

In college I started to become obsessively organized. I developed a system that allowed me to highlight, mark and find notes easier. I had a massive collection of Sharpie highlighters and Post-It flags for the sole purpose of note taking. I would read all the assigned chapters well in advance, again the day before and then highlight the important parts discussed in lecture. During lecture I would take notes using the Cornell method, highlight those notes in ROYGBIV. I gave sections highlighted in RED the highest priority (and so on down the spectrum).  I would then flag the paragraphs in the book with a corresponding Post-It flag colour, so I could easily find the page when studying my notes. Then I would re-type my notes in an outline format. Every class had its own folder which I tabbed and colour coded. It was a little embarrassing.

You would assume that this kind of obsessive organizing meant that I was always prepared for every course. This was, however, not the case. I was constantly waiting until the last-minute because I used the organization as a crutch. I assumed that if I was organized and I understood it to the nth degree, I would never have problems. Throughout medical school I was constantly waking up in the middle of the night because I had a case study review or lab write-up due in a matter of hours. My repeated procrastination lead to me walking around like a zombie, a ridiculously organized zombie, but a zombie nonetheless.

That was me, sans the cannibalism.

As medical school wore on, I continued to let things wait until the last-minute. My procrastination branched out from academia and eventually started affecting my relationships. I was often buying ridiculously expensive presents for people I barely knew because I had forgotten to buy their gifts in advance. While I was in NYC for my residency, I remembered that I had a party for a relatively new friend in 20 minutes. As I was on Canal Street, I literally walked into the first shop with a dress in the window and bought a purse for the birthday girl. The store was Derek Lam and the purse was something like $700. Needless to say, the girl was thrilled. I however, was less than thrilled that my procrastination had set me back $700.

Even after graduating from medical school I continue to wait until the very last second to do anything. Asking for time off work, purchasing plane tickets, having dinner with friends, the list goes on and on. I’m not really sure why I always wait so long to do anything. Some people have said that it’s a control issue, and others view it has one of those things that makes me, me. Regardless of why I do it, I wish it was something I would outgrow. I don’t see the point in being insanely organized if it doesn’t seem to do me any good!

Maybe this post is like an introduction at an AA meeting. Perhaps I am crying out for help or some sort of intervention.  In that case:

My name is RO and I am a procrastinator.

I will get addicted tomorrow..

Questions: How did you stop  procrastinating? What tips/tricks would you suggest I try?

Baking my way through medical school

Medical School: Learn to Live Like a Zombie

Medical school is stressful. Not the “busy schedule,” kind of stressful either. It’s the “life-consuming, soul-destroying, completely overwhelming,” kind of stressful. There were days when I just didn’t want to deal with life in general. In the mornings, my alarm would go off and I would plan my run. Part way through my run, I would consider not going back to my apartment and contemplate skipping my classes for the day. This happened every day for almost six years.

I had always attributed my lack of interest in medical school to my

My room was much less depressing....

parents. They had forced me to go to medical school, even though I told them I would be miserable. Of course I had been right, I disliked medicine intensely. It was easy enough, I found that I was good at it and I continued to drag myself to class everyday. By third year, I was so depressed that I had (what I would now classify as) a nervous breakdown. I stopped running, eating and only left the apartment for class. I spent an entire break from school in bed, leaving only to use the restroom or shower (sometimes). It was awful. I kept visualizing my life and in my head it was the most depressing future I could ever imagine. I pictured myself going to work everyday, dealing with patients and never being happy. It was too much to bear, so I just shut down.

At the end of several weeks, I finally decided enough was enough. I drove to see my parents, I was going to tell them I was done with

My grandmother is so much cuter

medical school once and for all. When I arrived home my grandmother was there. She was in the process of baking babka wielkanocna for the holiday so I asked if I could help while I waited for my parents to return. Perhaps it was speaking Polish with my grandmother or maybe it was licking delicious gooey batter off my fingers, but by the time my parents arrived home I had completely forgotten that I was there to tell them my life-changing news. Baking has always been an important aspect of my life, but at that moment I realized that I could take out my frustrations on cupcakes. It was a game changer.

I spent the weekend at my parents, planning my baking shopping list. My mind was finally off of medical school and instead it was thinking about how many Meyer lemon’s I needed for tarts. When I got back to the city I headed straight to the store, I bought over $300 worth of

The best kind of mess.

random ingredients and then stopped by a kitchen supply store for extra accessories. Back at my apartment, I baked for hours. My counters that had once been covered in nothing but medicine, were now covered in flour. I kneaded dough until my fingers cramped and rolled it until my arms were sore. It was wonderful. After I took the last cake out of the oven, exhaustion took hold and I slept for twelve hours straight. I woke up feeling oddly refreshed, went for a long run and then delivered the baked goods to my classmates.

For the rest of my time in medical school, I took plenty of time out to work in the kitchen. My friends and classmates loved it, so much so that they began to request certain recipes more than others. The favourite ended up being my Black Forest Cupcakes, which were requested on a weekly basis. It quite literally got me through medical school and made me realize that I would ultimately survive the experience.

It seems like a silly thing, to think that baking cupcakes could really have such a profound impact on a person. To me, it has always been the act of baking more than the finished product. Even though I enjoy tasting my creations, it is ultimately the pleasure they bring others that makes me so content. Once I found that I enjoyed baking, it became an outlet for my anxiety which helped me through medical school.

So, would I have still been a physician if I had not discovered my love of baking? Probably. My parents would have forced me to finish school and if I had decided to drop out, they would have pushed me toward engineering. Baking didn’t save medical school for me, but it did help me find some sort of balance in my hectic life. To this day I continue to bake for my family and friends. I think they are glad I had a nervous breakdown, because without it they never would have been able to taste what they consider “the most amazing cupcakes ever.”