Happy new year everyone and welcome into the next article of our Medic Mentor blog. My name is Dr Alok and I am one of the chief mentors for medicine at Medic Mentor. I look forward to meeting you all and mentoring you through your application journey.
Let’s get straight to it! As aspiring medical professionals, time management and prioritisation of tasks are key skill to possess and develop prior to your application to universities. I am going to focus on how these skills impact my professional and personal life. Hopefully, this gives you an insight as to the significant role these skills play and how it links directly to your productivity.
A little bit about myself…
I am a doctor and currently work part time in a hospital in arguably the most beautiful part of the country, Devon. With the sea and the moors at my doorstep, I could not have asked for a better venue to begin my medical career.
So, why is a current part time doctor writing about time management and prioritisation? Here’s the twist in the plot, I actually have 5 jobs.
Yes, that is not a typo. Maybe, I have your attention now. You might be thinking, how is that even possible? Does he ever switch off? What about work-life balance and days off? How sustainable is this?
All valid questions and I will get to them all.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first, what are these mysterious jobs?
1. Part time job at the hospital – 2 days a week
2. Medic mentor job – 2 days a week from home
3. Teaching job at the University of Plymouth – 4 weeks in the academic year
4. Medical assessments for heavy good vehicle licences through company – 4 to 8 sessions a month
5. Created my own education-based company with 2 colleagues – ad hoc hours
My daily and weekly routine…
Your routine is based on your individuality, just like patient care is tailored to the patient’s individual needs and circumstances. I would suggest trying to establish a routine before brushing the idea aside. Through this practice you invariably figure out what your priorities are. Routines are not for everyone and I understand that. Even having an idea of one important task you want to accomplish in a day is a good start. Make sure you accomplish that one important task every day for the whole week and I am sure you will increase your level of productivity that week.
My day starts at 5:30am after six and a half hours of sleep. Through trial and error, this is the amount of sleep I need in order to be able to function at my best during the course of the day. Have you figured yours out yet?
Sunday’s and Mondays are usually my days off. This gives me the opportunity for self-development. I used the time last year to pursue swimming and this year to start learning French. This is time that I also spend catching up with friends, family and exploring Devon and Cornwall. Some of this time is also used for any light studying on any medical or surgical topics that I feel needs revision. It is time that I am in control off and I can clearly switch off. I focus on my wellbeing and spend some time cooking meals for the next few days which is something I enjoy doing. Prioritising my health and wellbeing helps me carry out my tasks to a higher standard.
On work days, I either swim or play basketball in the mornings before heading into work. I block this time out every day for these activities. If I don’t make it to the gym through my occasional laziness (yes, this does happen) then I am in control of my time and can choose to do nothing as this is my protected time of the day.
I am then at work at the hospital or work from home for medic mentor from 9 am to 5 pm. Dr Ehsan recently wrote an article on the importance of creating lists for your tasks and related it to his time working in the hospital. I would suggest reading that insightful article as I concur with his conclusion and practice list keeping too.
My evenings are my most productive time for me. I have once a week meetings with my business partners on our educational company to provide updates and set deadlines for outstanding tasks. I carry out research on courses I aim to do, for example, I have been recently looking at the University of Bath’s sport medicine master’s course in detail as I would like to pursue a career in sports medicine.
Certain evenings are for organised sport and the spontaneous date night with my partner when our shift patterns work out.
At 9 pm I stop any work-related task and spend time doing anything I please, for example, catching up with a new TV series.
I graduated medicine in 2018 and started working as a junior doctor. Through my experience at work and through important advice from a close friend, I soon realised that my practices at medical school would not be sustainable in the working world. This led to a dramatic shift in my mindset. Through reflection I began to use time as my main way of measuring any task. Once I started working with time as the main unit of measure, I can safely say my productivity has incredibly increased. That is my secret. This is how I am able to hold down all my jobs and still improve myself on a year in and year out basis. I hope that this article gives you an insight into why time management and prioritisation are vital skills to possess.
- You are in control of your day. You are in control of your time.
- Take care of your mental and physical wellbeing
- Use a to do list (daily vs weekly) – I choose to do this on my reminders app as I prefer to colour code and separate my tasks according to my various jobs. You could always choose an app that helps you best.
- Choose to do the most difficult task first, once this is done you will feel a sense of accomplishment and validation
- Use time blocks for certain tasks
- Take a minute to reflect the amount of work you have done at the end of the day or week and be proud of yourself
- Do not let anyone tell you that your goals are unrealistic, you have nothing to prove to them
- Your only in competition with yourself. Do not worry about other people’s goals and way of working
- Learn to switch off from work mode
Join me on Tuesday the 18th January at the Virtual Society Meeting at 5:45pm where I will be teaching on how you can manage your time effectively.
If you are not already a part of the Virtual Society you can sign up here and join myself, other medical professionals and likeminded students for insight and skill building every week.