Applying to medical school is a stressful process for many reasons; with an earlier UCAS deadline, interviews, admissions tests and keeping on top of your A Level work, managing your time efficiently is essential.
When interview time rolls around it can be difficult to balance your A-Level work and interview preparation – it seems like there’s so much to cover.
Here are a few quick and easy time management tricks to ensure this time is as stress-free and productive as possible.
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The most effective and easy technique to practice time management is writing to do lists. To do lists can be both short term, such as for the evening, or long-term lists detailing everything you need to complete before a certain date or event such as an interview.
When writing lists, it is essential that you cover not only the basic things you must do, but also be ambitious and write any task that you think could be useful preparation (for example, researching the medical school, or catching up on medical news). This will ensure you don’t become complacent and always have more tasks that you can be doing.
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The next step is prioritisation. There are many effective ways to prioritise tasks, so find the way that is best for you. My favourites are numbering all my tasks from 1 (most important) to least important or using a traffic light system where red, amber and green correspond to “must do”, “should do” and “could do” tasks.
Prioritising tasks allows you to quickly see which tasks are essential and which can be missed if necessary, ensuring you complete everything that must be done without overworking yourself or wasting time on meaningless tasks.
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This trick has a variety of benefits; not only does it allow you to plan your time and ensure you are regularly working towards your different goals, but it also allows you to see how to better utilise the time you have.
With any timetable, you must always start by blocking out time for school, extra curricular activities and time to relax. After this, look at the time you have left and organise time to do everything you wish to.
Be realistic about timings; nobody can do interview preparation every Sunday for four hours straight! Spread things out over the week and split daunting tasks into more manageable chunks to make you more likely to want to them.
For example, you may split ‘interview preparation’ into research and practice questions or ‘Biology revision’ into time for revising notes and time to review past papers. Be willing to change your timetable around as deadlines pass and your focus changes.
Also ensure you allow a degree of flexibility in the case that something unexpected comes up; this timetable should be used as a guide not a set in stone schedule for the next 3-5 months.
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My final tip is probably the most important tip I have to give you. The medical admissions process is not just stressful but is very long and draining. You apply via UCAS before most of your peers, have more interviews and tests than many of them and you often end up receiving offers later than everyone else.
Therefore, it is imperative that you keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically. Keep time to do the things you enjoy and that make you feel good.
If not, you will end up burning yourself out too quickly and being unable to work effectively closer to the time of your interviews and A-Levels for example, adversely affecting your performance – so make sure you fit in time to relax!
Words: Cambridge Medicine Student
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