clock and time management

The art of multitasking and time management

In English Yleinen

Have you ever felt that the 24 hour day is just not enough? Well, you are not alone, this is a common feeling for anyone with a busy schedule.

Working daily hours as a surgical resident, combined with frequent heavy and long days, up to 25 hour shifts, at the emergency department, might feel quite overwhelming for many. Suddenly you also have to combine this with your own research and PhD studies. Having a calendar fully booked – days, evenings, and weekends – with clinical work, research, symposias, congresses, PhD courses, lectures, assignments, and deadlines. This hectic schedule with a constant feeling of being pulled in different directions, could potentially make anyone have a breakdown. Not to mention the simultaneous desperate strive to balance it all with a social and healthy life-style, beside this daily chaos. This is the reality for several young doctors, including myself.

So, how did I end up here? Working under high pressure, with high demands is common for many medical students or young doctors. Starting with the fact that the medical education is achievement oriented, following with the competitive nature of residency and the high stakes of medical practice.

To further specialize in a specific field in medicine or surgery, research is highly valued. Which, in turn, forces many medical students or young doctors to begin their scientific studies early, often alongside the studies or clinical work. This achievement focused mindset will easily and slowly build up, and if left unattended it may spiral into an unsustainable situation.

So how does one survive this endless roller coaster ride?

You simply need to master time management. After a few years of struggling with this as a medical student and young doctor, I finally realized the value of time management. Over the past few years I’ve tried to develop and polish these skills. Time management is an essential skill for everyone, not only for busy doctors or researchers. Unfortunately, this valuable asset is something that gets too little attention. We all have several goals in our lives, either short- or long-term goals. The question whether we will achieve them depends on our time management and priorities. Start by realizing that you can’t change the flow of time but you can change how you manage it. By managing your time more efficiently you can improve your professional performance and personal satisfaction. The key is to decide your priorities first. Set realistic expectations and prioritize wisely. Concentrate on important tasks with high values and don’t waste energy and time on things that are not as important.

Above all, effective time management will make you achieve as much of your goals as possible. Rather than recapturing time, focus on how you want to spend the time that’s left in the best possible way. Even if this might feel challenging in the beginning, consider it as a great opportunity to develop skills you simply cannot learn from a textbook, and that will be useful in many years to come.

Charlotta Gustafsson
Doctoral Student
Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research
University of Helsinki

 

3 kommenttia artikkeliin “The art of multitasking and time management

  1. A few years back, as I tried to balance between full-time -work, raising a family and finishing my master’s studies, I got really excited about the whole concept of time management. And I felt it really paid off! But I feel one can became ”too good” at it, to the point the whole life gets evaluated through the “time management” -lenses. It might not be a problem to everyone, but I feel it has become a problem to me. That is something I no longer can switch off: even in “spare” time I try to get the most out of every little task I’m doing (when I’m playing with my daughter on the floor, I’ll do some slight stretching, while speaking on the phone with a loved one I’ll do some household chores etc.). Therefore I feel I can no longer just relax and enjoy, have you ever felt or feared the some? Or perhaps I should just start prioritizing different things: taking things easier, smelling the roses 🙂

    1. Thank you for the comment. I have to say that I do recognize myself in the multitasking perspective that you described. However, I feel that it is important to recognize and differentiate between tasks that are “multitaskable” and tasks that are not. Some tasks simply require more attention than others and therefore understanding the importance of prioritizing is vital. 🙂

  2. This reminds me of when I was working 60 hours a week in a corporate job in Dublin while doing a part-time MBA. I had a weekly schedule in 15 minute intervals that included everything from writing assignments to cleaning the house to buying a new pair of shoes to replace the ones that were broken. Knowing that I have 15 minutes to buy that pair of shoes or otherwise my system collapses was insane but it was the only way to survive those 2 years! What was funny though was that after I finished the MBA those 20-30 hours that I had carved for my studies just disappeared and I was baffled at how I’d been able to find them for 2 years.

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