Happy blogmas day 3! Today I am sharing the things that truly got me through OT school. Some are school supples or items you can buy, and others are frames of mind and are not tangible. Each of these things were so helpful during OT school, either for logistical reasons, convenience, or mental health. Let me know if you use any of these things as an OT student, or anything else you would add to this list!
In case you missed it, on days 1 and 2 of blogmas I shared an OT Gift Guide and a Holiday Reading Guide! You can check out all of the posts using the blogmas tab on my blog, and subscribing to my email list. Enjoy!
OT Student Necessities
Laptop or iPad
A laptop is required by my program and many others, as nearly everything is turned in electronically. A laptop was necessary for writing papers, completing assignments, and taking exams. An iPad/tablet was not necessary for my program, but I had one before OT school and decided to use it to take notes during class. I really enjoyed using Notability and being able to use my Apple Pencil to write on PowerPoints that I downloaded.
Any headphones will work, but I really love my Apple AirPods. If you have a long commute, you can use your time to listen to an audiobook, podcast, music, or even notes that you record yourself reading on your phone.
I use my Yeti Rambler every day and love it for its convenience. It keeps my coffee hot/cold on my long commute, and it’s better than using plastic!
I used a shoulder bag for about 2 days then realized that a backpack was necessary in OT school, at least for me. My commute included a train ride, 15 min walk, and a ferry ride. A backpack was essential to hold everything I needed and not ruin my back/posture. Now that I’m in fieldwork, I am able to use that professional shoulder bag!
This may seem silly, but now that I’m in fieldwork I use this almost weekly. In pediatrics, I use a protractor a lot to score assessments (e.g. Beery VMI™) and it’s helpful to have my own in case I’m scoring at home or need a ruler.
Agenda or Google Calendar
At the beginning of OT school, I used a written agenda. While I love writing down a to-do list and crossing tasks off, eventually I switched to electronic and put everything into my Google Calendar. I love the convenience of having it available on my phone and my laptop, and keeping track of dates, labs, exams, fieldwork, etc. was essential.
Desktop Sticky Notes
Along with my switch to Google Calendar, I started using the sticky note feature on the desktop of my MacBook. I saw someone else using them in my class and I was like wow that is GENIUS. I separated my sticky notes by class, and typed out all dates/assignments at the beginning of the semester. As I completed assignments, I deleted items from the list. Since everything is done on the computer, having my to-do lists and assignments visible all the time was really helpful.
Since we worked in teams in my OT program, everything was done using Google Drive. My team created shared folders so we could work on projects together, and I uploaded all notes to my personal google drive from Notability after each class as a backup.
Blue Light Glasses
No joke, these are a life saver. I used to get really bad headaches in school from looking at screens for HOURS every day. Once I started using blue light glasses, my headaches went away almost completely. I have gotten some from Amazon (not the best quality), but you can find them elsewhere as well.
Regular Exercise Routine
My mental health is so much better when I exercise regularly. Even if it’s walking your dog for 30 minutes every day or a 10 minute stretch before you go to sleep, try to move your body every day. Find something that makes you feel good and that you look forward to doing. For me, that’s Pure Barre. Healthy habits and routines can do a lot to improve your physical and mental health, as we tell our clients as OTs!
Setting Limits & Prioritizing
This was hard at times. In OT school, sometimes you need to prioritize studying or writing a paper over hanging out with friends. Sometimes you are just so tired from the week that you need to cancel your weekend plans. You are in grad school pursuing a degree in something that you are passionate about, and the people in your life (hopefully) understand that. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, prioritizing school and your physical and mental health.
Time for Myself
As an introvert, this is essential to my emotional well-being. I love hanging out with my friends, don’t get me wrong. But, I can’t put 100% into OT school if I don’t allow myself to refill my cup with some alone time. For me, this looks like doing something social once each weekend instead of the entire weekend. I use my alone time to do hobbies that fill my cup, like reading, crafting, and writing my blog. For all of you extroverts out there, maybe what you need is a whole weekend filled with social plans. We are all different, so do what works for you! Just don’t overextend yourself.
*Of course, these social plans are over Zoom or FaceTime right now. Be safe!
This should be at the top of the list, honestly. OT school is hard. There were times when I felt stagnant because all of my friends were getting their own apartments and had disposable income to do fun things, and I was wondering when I would finally move out and get a job. It can be hard not to compare, but everyone is on their own journey and timeline. There were also times when I felt so stressed and overwhelmed that I just needed to cry to my mom or my boyfriend. That’s okay! Let it out, set a to-do list, prioritize, and know that you can do it. And, you will be a great OT one day!