Life Hacks for Optometry Students
Rachel Bryant is a member of the class of 2021 at Pacific University College of Optometry, and is a new member of the OptometryStudents.com team. This is her first article for the site.
Here are some useful life hacks that have helped take some of the stress out of the Optometry school life, along with saving me time, money, and precious sanity.
#1: Study Tracking
Create an Excel sheet, input your classes and clinical skills, and the dates of the semester, adding in dates of tests, quizzes, and clinical exams. Each day, note the hours you spent studying each subject or practicing your clinical skills. This helps you see where your time is going. I found it helpful to see exactly how many hours I spent on a subject when studying for a midterm because then I knew what work I needed to put in for the next midterm. Beyond organizing and optimizing my study time, this system helped calm my nerves about exams or proficiencies: I had hard evidence of the time and effort I’d put in. At the end of finals, it was impressive and satisfying to see how much time had gone into the semester. Imagine what it will look like after 4 years of Optometry school!
Tip: If your schedule changes, note how many hours of studying you may be missing, and make a plan to make those up on other days. That way, you can enjoy your time off knowing you won’t fall behind.
#2: mindfulness meditation
Between all the midterms, proficiencies, daily studying, clubs, involvement and trying to have a life, it can be overwhelming. We all get that. One thing that helps me is some basic mindful breathing techniques, which are meant to help you focus on the present, and de-stress. Healthline has a list of some great mindfulness and meditation apps here.
Tip: The Headspace app will remind you to take “mindful moments” throughout the day and has meditations for going to sleep, starting your day, taking walks or just general relaxing.
#3: Quick Workouts
HIIT, high-intensity interval training, workouts are fast and effective workouts for strength and cardio, that can be done at home. YouTube and Pinterest are both overflowing with them. Mine takes 30 minutes. I found that squeezing in a workout at least every other day helped me keep the stress down, and actually get in better shape while at optometry school, a pleasant surprise. I even did these workouts during final exam week! Just aim for 3 workouts a week, for 3 weeks. If you find it’s not your thing, no worries. You could try yoga, or even just taking a walk. Take an umbrella if you’re a Pacific student!
Tips: Build your workouts around your class schedule, pick your workout the day before, and pack your gym bag the night before. It’ll help you commit. Also: you can read notes while on a spin bike if you really want to!
#4: Meal planning & Prepping
Meal prepping different meals for the whole week led me to buy too much food that often went bad. So I plan one “day” of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and bought only those ingredients for the week. I made my setup even more complete by making an excel spreadsheet, where I’d track the macronutrients to make sure I was reaching my daily nutrition needs.
There are a few benefits to this. First, you only have to figure out one day’s worth of healthy meals. Second, planning out snacks stopped me from over-indulging. Finally, it’s much less wasteful and saves money. Woohoo, more funds towards your equipment!
Tip: Save your Excel spreadsheets from each week and reuse them later, and use a food and nutrition app to stay on track.
#5: Watch your drink purchases
Some days you just need a caffeine fix to get you through the day or night, but all those little drinks add up in cost over time. Try subbing those drinks with home made versions. My weakness was always matcha lattes, and although sometimes I just have to splurge, I learned how to make them at home cheaper and healthier! Here’s my favorite recipe.
Tip: Try making iced or hot lattes depending on the season, and experiment with different flavors and milks.
Optometry school can be hard, and a major adjustment to your lifestyle and schedule. Whether you end up implementing any or all of these hacks, I hope you found some useful tips in here. Here are a few other tips about surviving optometry school, and here are some wise words of advice about optometry school applications from a fourth year student.