Effective Time Management for Medical School


hourglass for time management

How to Perform Well in Medical School and Enjoy Life

Time management is one of the most important skills for future physicians to master. Medical education is a time-consuming process. Medical students must find a way to attend classes, study, and attend to their normal life activities. If you do not have a plan to get all your tasks completed, you will be overworked, frustrated, and stressed. However, if you learn to manage your time you will be much happier.


Time Management Tip#1: Keep a Schedule

You will be more organized and efficient if you keep a schedule. Medical students have a lot of demands on their time. It is easy to forget activities if you do not have a centralized location for your schedule. The type of schedule you keep is entirely up to you. Some people prefer a physical day-planner. Others opt for a scheduling app on their phone. It does not matter what form of schedule you prefer. Find one that works for you.


Time Management Tip #2: Set Time Limits for Tasks

It is a good idea to give yourself a time limit for tasks. This will keep you focused on the objective. For example, you should block off two hours in your schedule to study rather than telling yourself you will study until you have mastered neuroanatomy. If there is a definite endpoint for the activity, you will feel an urgency to get it done. In addition, you will be less likely to become distracted or overwhelmed because the activity is time-limited.


Time Management Tip #3: Prioritize Activities

Medical students always have multiple demands placed on them. Many students become very anxious when they have multiple things they need to complete. However, if you prioritize the items on your ‘to-do list’, things will be much easier. Each morning, review your schedule and create a list of the things you need to get done. Next, categorize your tasks in order of importance and urgency. Complete the most important and urgent chores first, then work your way down to the least important and urgent. If you find that you run out of time or motivation to complete an unimportant or non-urgent activity, you can put it on your schedule for another day.


Time Management Tip #4: Schedule Breaks

Relaxation is necessary. You will quickly burn out if you schedule task after task without any respite. Therefore, set times for breaks in your schedule. If you have an especially busy day planned, you may wish to reduce the time of your breaks. However, you absolutely should not eliminate break time. Even if you take 10 minutes to do some deep breathing exercises, you will find that you will return to your work with renewed energy and focus.


Time Management Tip #5: Eliminate Wasted Time

Time wasting is a deadly habit for medical students. The danger of wasting time is that it is often mindless and uncontrolled. For example, a student may decide to check their social media for ‘just a minute’ and find that they have wasted over an hour on unproductive pursuits. Therefore, you should be vigilant about activities that waste your time. This is not to say that you should not do activities you enjoy. Instead, do these things during scheduled break times and set a strict time limit on how long you will do them.


Time Management Tip #6: Make Waiting Productive

Waiting is a part of life. You must wait in lines at stores or in offices before appointments. Waiting also is a potential time waster. Although it is impossible to eliminate waiting in your life, you can make effective use of that time. Keep a small book or flashcards with you at all times. If you do this, you will be able to have brief, impromptu study sessions whenever you find yourself waiting.

Being a medical student is often difficult. You will have may things to accomplish in very little time. However, if you plan ahead and develop strong time management skills, you will be able to perform will with minimal stress.


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