On the Importance of Time Management

Posted by: Alexandra Starks - Posted on:

I’ve been putting off writing this blog for two weeks. It’s not because I don’t enjoy writing these blogs. I do. But every time I thought about doing it, I also thought about the assignment that I need to be preparing for the third module of my health informatics course; the three assignments that are due by the end of this month for the second module of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme; the reading, tasks, and forum posts that I’m meant to be doing for the third modules of both courses; the upcoming deadlines for sorting out flexi placements; and, of course, all of my work at the hospital, from responding to freedom of information requests to building dashboards for service managers. 

In the first months of the Scheme, I was busy, but keeping up without too much trouble. At some point over the holidays, though, I got a bit too comfortable. I let things get away from me. And now I’m remembering exactly why time management is one of the key skills for a graduate trainee to have. 

The Scheme is exhausting; it requires hard work and long hours, and I don’t think any trainee would say otherwise. That said, it is absolutely possible to fulfil all of your responsibilities – if  you’ve mastered good time management. It’s absolutely key to being successful on the Scheme. 

I mention this now because as some of you go into the assessment centres this month, time management will also be necessary for your success. So, as I’m in the process of getting my own schedule sorted, let me give you a few pieces of advice I’ve picked up throughout my time at university, in graduate school, in office life, and now on GMTS:
 

  1. Breathe. Take a deep breath, and try to clear your mind completely, just for a few moments. Meditate if you’re into that kind of thing. It helps you to see things more clearly.
     
  2. Prioritise. Once you have a clear head, decide what’s most important. Whether on the Scheme or at the assessment centre, prioritisation of tasks is critical. There will always be plenty of distractions, and it’s important to know where to put your energy.
     
  3. Plan. I was submitting nearly all of my work projects and assignments early for the first five or six months of the Scheme. I was able to do that because I made a plan — one that included all of my uni work, all of my work projects and meetings, and all of my GMTS commitments — and made it realistic enough that I could stick to it. I’ve now made a new plan to help me get back on track, and I can already see and feel the difference. Having my commitments laid out in black and white — no matter how many or how intimidating they may be — gives me the ability to relax. I know that if I just do the things on my list for that day, I’ll be okay. I’ll meet my deadlines. And I don’t have to worry about anything else. When you’re given your tasks at the assessment centre, plan before you do anything else. It’s a stressful situation, and planning ahead is the way to make sure that you don’t miss completing any parts of your tasks.
     
  4. Start. If you’re anything like me, you may have a bad habit of waiting for the “right time” to start something new. What I’ve learned from watching very successful people is that there is no right time. You just have to take the first step. Whether you need to prepare for the assessment centre, write an essay, or run a marathon, you won’t ever finish if you don’t ever start.
     

I hope some of these thoughts help you as you go into the assessment centre, university, or work this month, and I hope to see you on the Scheme later this year!

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