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10 tips on how to manage your time

10 tips on how to manage your time

Emily Slaine
3rd Year Medical Student at The University of Liverpool
December 9, 2021

Hi guys, my name is Emily, and I’m a 4th-year medical student. As the title implies, this blog is about managing your time well when applying for medical school. I totally understand how you may all be feeling right now. Applying for medical school can sometimes feel like an emotional rollercoaster, with so many things to do, but I’m here to help. 

10 Tips How To Manage Time

  • Make a checklist
  • Get Diary
  • Make a schedule
  • Be organised
  • Make use of your advisors
  • Don’t forget about the study time
  • Remove non-essential tasks
  • Take breaks
  • Prioritise
  • Buy a watch

1. Make a checklist

I cannot recommend this enough. Even if you’re not a checklist person, I generally find this helpful. 

Write out everything you need to do during the 2-3 years leading up to the UCAS deadline. This can sound over the top, but you’ll thank me later. This list should include: 

  • sourcing suitable work experience
  • volunteering
  • personal statement writing
  • meetings with UCAS supervisors
  • UKCAT preparation
  • university open days and research etc. 

This will make it much clearer in your head what you need to do. It can also include hobbies and other goals that you may be aiming for during this time. 

This list may look absolutely massive, but you don’t have to do everything at once. I think of the application process as a marathon rather than a sprint. It also gives you a great sense of achievement as you gradually tick the tasks off when completed. I recommend using this technique for A-Level revision also. 

2. Get a diary

This ties in quite well with the checklist idea. Get yourself a diary with a page-a-day to write all of your deadlines in. This will make it much easier to divide up your time, so you don’t get overwhelmed at the last minute if you’ve forgotten something important. The single most important deadline is the UCAS deadline which is usually mid-October of year 13, DO NOT miss this!

3. Make a schedule

Try and form a timetable for yourself. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. Obviously, you’ll still be attending college to study for A-Levels, but your own personal timetable helps too. For example, something like this.

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
9 am
College College College College College
10 am
College College College College College
11 am
College College College College College
12 pm
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1 pm
College College College College College
2 pm
College College College College College
3 pm
College College College College College
4 pm
Travel Home Travel Home Travel Home Travel Home Travel Home
5 pm
Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner
6 pm
Study Study Study Study Night Off/Time with Friends
7 pm
University research UCAT/BMAT preparation Personal Statement writing Volunteering/Part-time job Night Off/Time with Friends
8 pm
Sport/hobbies Sport/hobbies Sport/hobbies Volunteering/Part-time job Night Off/Time with Friends

Bear in mind that a timetable like this will mostly be relevant for the end of year 12 and the start of year 13, because this is the busiest time for medical school. Beyond the UCAS deadline, this timetable will change to include preparation time for medical school interviews, open days and offer holder days.

4. Be organised

Do not leave things to the last minute. Get your application in early if you can, as this will reduce the stress and be one more thing ticked off the checklist (mentioned above). On the other hand, please don’t rush the UCAS process because there is enough time to do it properly in your first month of year 13.

5. Make use of your advisors

All colleges usually allocate you a UCAS advisor. Meet with them regularly and get them to review your application and the all-important personal statement. Take their advice and make suitable changes to your application if needed. Politely ask some of your teachers, friends and family members to also have a glance over your personal statement to make sure it reads well and grabs the attention of the admissions tutors. 

6. Don’t forget about the study time

Applying for medical school can become the sole focus in your life, particularly during August and September of year 13. It’s important not to forget about your revision also. You need the grades as well to get into medical school, so try and keep on top of your work during the start of term. 

Plan in advance for tests, use revision tools online and work on past paper questions. It’s ok if your UCAS application needs more of your time, though. As long as after it’s submitted it you re-focus on your A-Levels.

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7. Remove non-essential tasks

This DOES NOT mean stopping your hobbies. Keep these up to help keep a work-life balance during the application process. 

If there are any non-essential tasks that you no longer need to do (e.g. a part-time job that’s taking up too much time), stop it. You can restart it in the summer or whenever you’re less busy. This allows you to spend your time on more important tasks and allow you to meet your deadlines and goals. 

8. Take breaks

Don’t let the application process take over your life. Yes, it’s important, but it does not need your 24-hour attention. If you continuously write and re-write your personal statement, this may lead to you feeling stressed and not allowing you to produce your work. 

It’s an important life skill to know when to call it a day and rest. You deserve it! I recommend trying out the “Pomodoro” technique. This involves using a timer, studying/working for 25 minutes and then having a break for 5 minutes. It ensures you don’t overwork yourself, which is really important to avoid academic burnout. 

9. Prioritise

When you make your checklist put a star beside the tasks that need to be done soon. This allows you to schedule your time effectively. For example, UKCAT preparation comes before personal statement writing. 

10. Buy a watch

It seems obvious, but it’s actually a very useful investment. It stops you from checking your phone for the time, therefore increasing your productivity. On that note, keep all unnecessary technology away when completing tasks. This will make you appreciate it more when you take breaks.

That’s my top 10 tips for time management when applying for medical school. I hope you’ve found it useful.

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