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Saturday
Feb112012

Logging Your Hours is like Showing Your Work in Math Class

Hey everyone, it’s been a few months since our last update; third round midterms, finals, the holidays, and the New Year. So, a belated good luck on finals, belated happy Holidays, and a belated Happy New Year. We hope you enjoyed your break or are enjoying your break after another semester on the belt. You have a tentative course schedule right now and you’re gearing up for another semester, if not at the front of your mind it might be doused in your subconscious.

So, before the break is over or before the semester becomes so hectic it’s not worth thinking about I wanted to bring your attention back to logging the hours you do for specific activities or regular day activities if you want to watch what you’re doing that closely. I was revising my CV for a possible research opportunity and as I was putting down the classics, you know, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Learning to Fly, and Patching a Hole in the Ozone Layer in My Spare Time, I came across an idea I had thought of at least a year back; writing down the hours completed for each activity.

Usually, on a resume or CV, you write for example the employer, title, subdivision or department and the year you worked there (with variations, I’m far from an expert on this). I thought it would be a great idea to write the hours completed for the activity to provide more context to the work put into the activity. Let’s say you’re applying to medical school and you put down that you worked a year at a hospital (clinical experience) and someone else applying put a year’s worth at a different hospital. You worked two twelve hour shifts a week and picked up more shifts during the breaks, you worked you’re a$$ off for a straight year and clocked in 1,200 hours. The other person applying picked up a shift here and there and clocked in 300 hours. Right away we can see there’s a discrepancy in how much time was put into each activity.

And you guys can see where the post is going from here, so I’ll opt out by just saying logging your hours can provide more context to what you’ve been doing. The previous way I logged hours was tedious so after my post on daily time management and efficiency my logging became sparser. Raise your hand for how many people actually do it? Probably not many because it’s a hassle and at the end of the day it’s not something I wanted to do. So, I came up with a better way to log the hours in Excel. Rather than logging every minute I go to the bathroom to 5.487 minutes, I just do educated guesses (it’s good enough for a scientific experiment right?) of the hours spent on select activities I would put on a resume or CV or what medical school would find important; clinical experience, volunteering, student organizations, shadowing, research experience, specific extra-curriculars. “Oh, it’s about 5 hours that I spent doing that” or “I worked on it for about 30 minutes (.5 hours).”

And! I have an example to help you log your hours in an excel spreadsheet that I made because I think it’s important that you do it. Obviously, it won’t be as important for a graduating senior on their last semester but it will be for a freshman. I wish someone would have told me 3 years ago to do this when I started premed and really when I started college. The sheet displays the things that I thought were the most important: day, date, activity, hours spent, and a small description of the event if needed. The totals are on the side and all you have to do is change the dates and the specific activities if you use this as a template. My goal is create a folder and put 52 of these in it with the dates changed so when the semester comes around all I have to do is put in numbers as needed. But feel free to use it how you want or change it to the way that you like. And if it completely sucks find a way that works for you because it’s important, writing them on napkins and scratch paper didn’t work for me.

Log Your Hours (excel)

I hope this helps and good luck in your spring semester.

Let us know if this helped or let us know what you do to log the hours you do each activity; tell us in a comment, email, twitter, or facebook. Also, if you’re having trouble in school, let us know, we’re here to help!

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