Making time when you don’t have any

It’s tough to maintain work-life balance as a doctor – your rota keeps you too busy to breathe. In all that, it’s important to make time for the things you to enjoy, so that you can be well-rested and well-adjusted inside and outside the hospital.

Here’s the best advice from junior doctors on making time when you don’t have any:


Plan ahead

  • Find a calendar method that works for you – whether it’s an app, a written planner, a bullet journal, an elaborate series of reminders, or a combination.
  • Document your shifts and your plans as soon as you make them, and check what you’ve written down before you double-book yourself.
  • Work out what you can attend, and if you need to swap your on-calls – and make sure you do it before you commit to anything elsewhere.
  • Make sure you schedule in regular leisure activities for yourself – whether that’s running, gym class, a movie, or a night in.


Don’t feel pressured to do extra locum shifts if you don’t want to

  • You’d be doing locum shifts on top of your current workload if you’re comfortable with doing them – but if you can’t, or don’t want to, the magic words you’re looking for are ‘I won’t be available.’ No further explanation necessary.
  • These will get filled without you stepping in – technically, departments aren’t supposed to fill locum shifts with their current trainees if they can help it.


Ensure you are leaving work on time regularly

  • If you’re working regular overtime, this should be an exception to the rule. It’s important for you to document your leaving times to make sure this isn’t happening.
  • Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to report this and discuss how to manage it – whether that’s obtaining Time Off In Lieu, reducing your workload to avoid future unscheduled overtime, or another method.


Limit how much of your own time you spend on non-clinical work related activities

  • Try and do as much of this during working hours when possible (e.g. during a weekend or night shift).
  • Meet with your supervisor if you’re unable to do this – the new contract stipulates that all mandatory training-related activities, including audits and QIPS, constitute work, and should be treated as such.


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