Get the best news and views about medical training directly to your email inbox.

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.
Messly is the online doctors’ mess. We’re taking the hassle away from training in the NHS by helping you save time, be more productive and be better supported as a junior doctor. You can learn more here.
If you believe that life as a Junior Doctor doesn't need to be so full of frustration and admin and that as a profession we can achieve more when we come together then join more than 10,000 other Junior Doctors on Messly.

No Comments Yet.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *