I can only get 3-5 hours of solid work done each day without being miserable


Membership Revoked
Nov 5, 2014
Medical Student
In undergrad I had the worst work ethic. I pretty much studied ONLY 2 days before the exam and never went to class. Now that I'm in med school I'm spending about 3-5 solid hours a day on school stuff (with distractions it adds up to 5-7 hours a day). I feel like that's the maximum I can possibly do. Any more and I lose focus and feel miserable forcing myself to study more.

It's not a huge problem because with the current amount of time I'm spending I can pass classes by a comfortable margin, but I'm constantly feeling like I don't know enough. There's so much info out there that I just don't have time to learn and I want to learn it but the stuff I'm forced to spend my time on is basic science that bores the **** out of me.

Do I just need more willpower to study for longer each day? Does anyone else have trouble spending more than 3-5 hours each day studying?
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2+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2015
Resident [Any Field]
If you are happy with your performance, then the amount you are studying is right. But since you are posting here, I suspect you're not entirely happy with how things are going. You'll always feel like you don't know enough - I'm a PGY2 and I am astounded by my ignorance every day. Try to love the basic science stuff though - it separates you as a physician from the rest of the world. And perhaps it's not willpower to study longer but creativity in finding enjoyable ways to study. How about volunteering at an underserved clinic? Teaching undergrads or other medical students?

Finally, if you are really concerned about your focus you might want to see your primary care doctor to see if you actually have an attention deficit.


Lifetime Donor
7+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2012
Resident [Any Field]
This isn't inherently a problem. To be honest the only days where I spent significantly more than that studying was in the week leading up to the exam (and of course for Step 1 dedicated study - averaged 11-12 hr days for that). The key is, as sholamd stated, finding ways to keep yourself focused and interested in studying. You may have to be creative. You may have to divide up your study times. You may have to throw in questions or something to mix it up. Now's the time to explore new ways of studying until you can effectively manage both the volume and content.

You will always feel like you don't know enough. Just make sure you stay well above passing.
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2+ Year Member
Apr 15, 2015
Medical Student
I've found that my brain sort of caps out at 4-5 hours of "deep" study every day.

Try this: Study all your lecture notes early in the day, so you use your 3-5 hours effectively. Get through all the slides you need to get through. Then, after you're tired, take a break -- eat some food, exercise, go outside, etc. -- and then use the latter part of your day to watch lectures. It's a lot easier to watch lectures on material you already know (especially at 2x), and it just serves as an opportunity to reemphasize the important stuff. After you finish watching, call it quits and either review old stuff or just enjoy the rest of your night. If you're efficient, and don't have mandatory attendance, you probably could finish by 4pm every day.