The secret to becoming a dentist is self-discipline, focus, and perseverance. It also doesn't hurt to borrow some jewels of wisdom from faculty and mentor dentists.
The secret to becoming a dentist is self-discipline, focus, and perseverance. It also doesn't hurt to borrow some jewels of wisdom from faculty and mentor dentists. More often than not, you'll find that their successes hinge on daily habits and systems that promote efficiency in both their personal and professional lives. As Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and author, once said: "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” Here are five recommendations for your day:
- Rise early and relax. It's true, there aren't enough hours in the day. It seems like we are always running out of time, and cloning ourselves isn't an option (at least not yet!). However, if you set your alarm for a half hour earlier than you usually wake up, you might be surprised at how much you can accomplish. This is especially true if you spend this extra time relaxing and regrouping for the day ahead. Eat a good breakfast, take a few minutes to do something you enjoy, and ease yourself into the morning and your dental school schedule. If you want to take it a step further, set aside relaxation "bookends" every day, one when you wake up and one right before you go to sleep. Go to bed a half an hour earlier and give your body a breather. Read a good book, do some yoga, or just take your time settling in for the night. Whatever you do, let work go by the wayside and allow yourself to enjoy a much-needed break.
- Know Your Schedule. Understand that you’ll need to follow your schedule. Sit down after your morning relaxation time and take a look at your upcoming agenda. Most of a dental student’s day is devoted to class and clinic, so planning where you’ll need to be and what resources are required of you is imperative. Have a notebook, or more digital and virtual options such as EverNote, to indicate any potential changes to this schedule that might affect your week. Rank everything you jot down in terms of priority, taking care of the most pressing matters first. The name of the game is organization and time management.
- Set a challenge or goal EVERY day. Every day should have a focal point. More specifically, a goal, problem, or challenge that you want to overcome. If possible, create a planner of how you want the week to go, and assign a particular challenge to each day. For instance, Monday might be the day that you finally sign up for that meeting or session you've missed every year, while Tuesday will be dedicated to tidying up your work desk. Once you set the challenge for yourself, stick to it and don't let distractions stand in your way. Of course, there may be times when an emergency arises and you have to postpone your plans. Just be sure to put it on your agenda for the following day and stay focused on the desired outcome.
- Promote yourself. You should do at least one thing to promote yourself every day, even if it’s through social media or preparing your resume or for Dental Matching Program interviews. The key is to establish a presence and then maintain it consistently, so that prospective Program administrators or employers understand what you have to offer. This also gives you the opportunity to build your marketing and communication skills, which can be extremely useful if you are inexperienced with the business side of dentistry. On days that you feel particularly ambitious, you can always self-promote on a grander scale through networking at events, conferences, and meetings.
- Offer guidance and support to others. One of the most notable things that puts successful dental students a cut above the rest is their willingness to help others. They know that offering support, advice, and guidance to other dental students is worth the time and effort. Not only is it an altruistic quality, but helping those who are less experienced builds relationships. These relationships offer a chance for dental students to grow as leaders. Collaborating, helping, and working with others is great preparation for when a dental student may find themselves in a practice after graduation. It’s always important to spread expertise so that you and your team can work effectively.
Above all else, dentists give it their all. You must be able to focus on the task at hand and be passionate about the hard work that goes into dentistry. When clinic gets tough and you feel like throwing in the towel, remember why you wanted to become a dentist in the first place. These are the core values and goals that will fuel you as you move forward. That is what will make you the best dentist you can be.
Recommendations for Time Management
Schedule your interruptions
Plan time to be pulled away from your primary focus.
Plan your day
Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan. Don't start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time
Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you define success before you start. Take five minutes afterwards to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing?