Bring Three: Martin Verbič

Welcome to Bring Three, a new series on my blog in which I interview people with various interests or hobbies. In this series, each guest brings three things which in their opinion best describe their field of interest and occupation. Those are just a reference point for the discussion, which will not be limited to just that.

In the first part of Bring Three, I welcome Martin Verbič, a medical student and a dear friend, who also motivated me to start blogging myself (link to his blog down below).  His focus is primarily on medicine, efficiency, and self-development, which we will talk about in the interview.

Martin’s three things

Welcome, Martin, what have you brought with yourself today?

So, I brought three things, connected to my daily life. One is my Atlas of Anatomy, used for studying medicine, the second is my Garmin Smartwatch, used for various things, but especially tracking my fitness and workouts, and the third thing is concerned with my daily planning, which is a paper to-do list.

So the first thing that you have brought is an Atlas of Anatomy, and the first question about this item is when did you first become interested in medicine and how so?

The interest or the idea of studying medicine or being a doctor was always kind of in the back of my mind, but I never really considered it to the fullest until the summer of 2016. And that’s when I kind of asked myself what really interests me, and what is the prospect for the future, and I said why not medicine. I’m interested in it, I can contribute to society by being a doctor, I can help people, and as I said, there is a wide range of career possibilities for the future. In no matter which way medicine will develop, there will always be people who need help or areas that require further development.

Atlas of Anatomy

You considered studying abroad and also applied for studying medicine in Vienna, Austria, what have you learned in the process?

There were several things I learned in the whole process. First, I got to know the Austrian medical system, because I wanted to know in what system I’m going to study, and later on, also in what kind of a system I am going to work. Secondly, I  got to know the Austrian educational system. It was not as detailed, but I got a brief insight into it and its organization. Thirdly, the examination part – the process for applying or getting into the university, was an Austrian approach of selecting six-hundred participants from six-thousand candidates. But in terms of knowledge or challenges, the best experience I had was the challenge of studying in German, thinking in German, and also writing tests in German. A great skill I learned was mnemonics, which really allows you to remember or to encode things in a really short amount of time to recall them in an indefinite amount of time.


You now study medicine in Ljubljana, Slovenia. How would you describe the difference between your expectations about studying in Ljubljana and your actual experience?

Ok, so I have to say that my expectations were a lot lower than the current situation. I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and I never really considered studying in Ljubljana, so I didn’t really have high expectations. And considering Slovenia’s medical system and the news concerned with it, I was not optimistic. But I have to say that I really love studying here, and I think that the University of Ljubljana really gives you the knowledge, the friendships, the events, the skills you need, and offers a whole lot of activities which you can do alongside studying, and which you have to do because of the nature of study. Of course, nothing is perfect, but I like it a lot.

The second item that you brought is a Garmin smartwatch. You stress the importance of an active lifestyle, and its effect on efficiency and concentration, what were your steps to become more active?

So, what actually is efficiency? It’s the ability to avoid wasting time, efforts, goods in doing something or producing a desired result.  And why I emphasize the importance of efficiency and not productivity is because if you’re productive, you can also do things that are not important for your goals. And that’s why I think one really has to select the tasks they need to do. Back to the active lifestyle, I just wanted to become more active. And an anecdote is that one morning I stepped on a scale, and I saw that my weight was really down, like ten kilos down from the period when I was training basketball. And that’s when I said, ok, something has to change. And so I started with a daily workout, named 7-minute workout, and 5-minute plank workout. And this was a great way to start since the amount of time invested was really short, like seven minutes or twelve minutes max, and the return was incredible. I was feeling rested, focused, I got new ideas, it was great. And that’s why I also decided to step it up, and I began working out more seriously.

Garmin Smartwatch

So with that in mind, how did an increase in activity affect your lifestyle and study?

As I said, I started to feel better after working out, I was refreshed and I knew what to do and what not to do, and I can say that in a way, it reset my mind. Another benefit that I noticed was the increased amount of sleep I was getting, or maybe not the amount, but the quality of it that I was getting.

What kind of exercise or physical routine would you suggest someone who is having a hard time to fit it into their schedule?

So the first thing I would do, as I explained earlier, is download the workout apps for mobile, which the stores are full of these days, and just start with the daily routine of investing seven minutes of your time into your physical condition and physical as well as mental well being. Some other recommendations would be just to search the internet for different exercises and pick a few whole-body exercises that you really like and schedule them on your calendar and just do it.

So the last thing that you have brought is a paper to-do list, why use paper instead of an app on a smartphone?

If you look at today’s apps or app stores in general, there are a lot of productivity tools, and I think that’s great. I think that a to-do list app is great for planning, for writing down ideas from your mind and scheduling them for a later time. But in terms of a day-to-day to-do list, I don’t think an app is that great because it’s too flexible. An app allows you to reschedule, postpone your tasks, which allows you to quickly become inactive. That’s why I started experimenting with a paper to-do list, the old-school way. So this is a piece of paper that I fold two or three times depending on the size, so it effortlessly fits in my back pocket. I can carry it around all day, view my tasks without a battery, and I cannot reschedule these tasks – so I have an obligation to do them. I think that’s great for increasing my efficiency and I’m happy about it.

Paper to-do list

How do you organize your schedule, and which activities do you prioritize?

There are basically two groups of activities that I don’t really know how to name. One group is studying and blogging in that order. My priority is studying medicine, as you know, it is a demanding subject – you have to know a lot of things, remember a lot of things, so I prioritize that. The second priority is my blog, so when I’m done studying or I don’t have to, I tweak my blog or write something. The second group of activities that I do day-to-day by habit are reading, meditating and working out. And I have a rule that I have to do at least two of these three things every day, and I feel awesome.

Would you say that social media helps us to organize (Facebook calendar, events), and why?

I think that Facebook is great for knowing when and where your events are, and I also think it’s a great way to track your friends’ birthdays, but I think that events and calendars are way too integrated into Facebook. I personally use them, but only to the point where they distract me. And that’s my way of using it – when something distracts me, I stop doing it. I actually prefer having a calendar app for that, for example Outlook or Google Calendar, where I schedule my everyday activities and my timetable.


With that, we proceed to the last question: What would you change in how people view their time and everyday lives which could make for a better difference?

A simple principle would be to look at your time and determine how much it’s worth,  in a currency. Determine your hourly wage. Then start calculating, how much profit (money) actually goes into specific activities. That way, you can really put your time into activities that you really benefit from. It is a principle that you can easily implement, even if your wage is low for students maybe, as the most important is the subjective value of your time.

Martin, thank you for joining me today in Bring Three, and I wish you all the best in your career. This concludes the first part of the series, and I hope that you have learned something beneficial in this post. Also, be sure to follow Martin’s blog on his website for more such content.


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