Basic Productivity Tips for Pharmacy Students

A few weeks back, I wrote a really long list on how to get ready for the board exam and I wanted to just lazily copy and paste it here on my blog since I promised to share it to my underclassmates but I realized that it’d be nice to write a series on how to be productive and my suggestions on how to manage time and relieve stress throughout the year since, honestly the board exam is not at the top of everyone’s mind right now (unless you’re taking it in January, then I promise to post my tips soon!).

I know some of you have a just a year left before you take the board exam yourselves and honestly you’ll have no idea how fast time will fly by with major internship, thesis and graduating requirements. This will be a make or break time for all of you and I have some tips to help you get through this journey.

1. Have a To-Do List 

This should be the bare minimum that any one should have for productivity management and if you can manage thisTin your head, then I applaud you. The cheapest and easiest option is paper and pencil. I had a variation of this when I was in 2nd year. For each subject, I would have one sticky note with all the things I needed to do for the week. I would change out the sticky notes every few days to update it and I would keep all of them on the cover of my school notebook.

The most creative way I’ve kept a To-Do list is with a planner. The most popular planners I’ve used are Starbucks and Moleskine planners. The best part about a planner is that you don’t need to create your own format because it gives you it’s own structure. However, I have a hard time remembering to write down every task into the planner.

Currently, I am using Wunderlist for my phone and computer. It is just a simple list making app that syncs with almost every platform (iOS, Android, Mac and Windows). It makes all of my tasks easy to check off and very easy to list out because I don’t always have a pen and paper but I always have my phone with me. Offline, I use my Starbucks planner to keep track of the overall month and my daily schedule.

2. Find your learning style

My 2nd year thesis in English was Learning Styles of Pharmacy Students and with it I learned that there are various ways of learning information: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinesthetic. You can find your learning style here using the VARK Questionaire.

Ironically, I hardly used my thesis on myself, although I determined that I am a Visual/Kinesthetic learner. I would record teachers lectures (and never listen to them or fall asleep to them) or I would blankly read other peoples reviewers thinking that I am ‘studying’. However, now I understand that I was wasting my time. As a Visual/Kinesthetic learner, I learn quickly using diagrams, flashcards and figures. I learn computations by trying them out in various ways and I learn complex medical processes by seeing the flow of the process and not just reading it.

Everyone learns differently and if you apply your learning style instead of continuing to work with someone else’s, then it will take you all night to review all 20 amino acids/mechanism of actions of diuretics.

3. Controlling ‘Relaxing’ Time/Procrastination 

This is something I struggle with to this day. When I would get home from school, I would just throw my bag on the floor, open my laptop and the next thing I know is that it’s 11pm and I have 2 quizzes tomorrow.

My most effective way of controlling this sequence of events is to time myself as soon as I get home.

Timer starts now!

  • 7:00minutes – Make to-do list of what I need to get done tonight
  • 25:00minutes – Rest and relax
  • 5:00minutes – Set up for studying/being productive
  • 25:00minutes – Study for Quality Control Quiz

I learned this through the Pomdoro Technique. 25 minutes of being productive. 5 minute break. Do this 3 times then I earn a 15minute break.

I suggest modifying this technique to your span of attention. Try 25 minutes at first, but if you find yourself during the last 10 minutes dozing off or blanking out then shorten your productivity time but still keep the break short. And, if you find yourself on a roll, meaning that at 25minutes you want to keep going, then do it! It’s a great way to ‘trick’ yourself into being productive because you are accountable for the time you use.


These are my very basic tips for productivity. I am still learning and developing ways to be productive and if you have your own tips, please share :] and tell me if these tips are helpful to you.

‘Till next time!