The Successful Student Part 1

What principles do successful students understand? I spent many years in the classroom and strive to be a life long learner. I would like to include in this blog a series of posts that describe the principles I have found to be valuable.

Principle #1

Thoughtfully develop a personal, daily, habitual, and healthy learning routine.

To illustrate what I mean, let me describe my learning routine in medical school. I took the 6 am bus to school each morning and promptly studied for two hours before class. I studied during each lunch hour. I also studied after class for two hours. I studied in the same places each day. I took the evenings and weekends off.

Now, my routine was simple, but consider this:

My routine was thoughtfully developed. I figured I needed to study five hours per day to keep up or 25 hours per week. I scheduled that time in each day. The time was spread out to avoid arduously long study periods. I had the weekends to rest.

My routine was personal. I think best in the mornings. I need breaks. I don’t like staying up late.

My routine was habitual—each part was triggered by an event (waking up in the morning, lunch, and completing class at the end of the day). It became like brushing my teeth—I just did it day in and day out.

My routine was healthy. It left time for family, fun, and refreshing.

Take the time to develop (or reconsider) your own learning routine. Modifying as you go. Make it habitual. Make it doable. Overtime, the small efforts you make each day can yield wonderful results.


  1. Enjoying your blog, John. I’d be interested in seeing a post sometime about how you studied in med school/study techniques you have found helpful and tips on how to study for Step exams.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Trent. So I plan to write more. I think daily habitual study and making concise mind maps for everything you study to keep things straight are probably the things that worked most for me. I wasn’t the smartest in my class but I graduated first and did very well on boards.

      Board study is the same too—start early and study a little each day. Probably just focus on one or two really good review books plus questions.


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