Oyindamola Adeniyi, a 4th year Medical student, and a recipient of the Diana Award 2023 shares her tried and tested tips on how she masterfully balances the many hats she wears.
"How do you balance everything?" is a question frequently asked, and for good reason! As a medical student, social entrepreneur, mentor, and volunteer, I have embarked on the journey of honing the skill of managing multiple projects simultaneously—a journey that is still ongoing. Within the realm of medicine, where the workload is demanding and stress levels run high, it can often feel like there is little room for anything beyond the confines of the profession. Over time, I have discovered that by diligently applying specific strategies, we can empower ourselves to assume various roles and develop layers of identity that go beyond the stethoscope.
Oyindamola Adeniyi is a 4th year medical student, mentor, strategic communications officer at MelaninMedics, co-founder of the Black Excellence Network and a worthy recipient of the Diana Award this year.
Prioritisation and goal setting
Setting priorities and clear goals is integral to ensuring that you can maintain consistency in your projects as this will give you a well-defined roadmap that guides your decisions daily. When it comes to identifying priorities, you must be able to self-reflect and understand which tasks align most closely with your short-term and long-term vision. This will help you to determine the importance of different tasks and priorities. A strategy I find effective involves outlining my monthly priorities based on my yearly goals and subsequently breaking them down into weekly targets. Each morning, I dedicate approximately 10-15 minutes to reviewing these designated weekly priorities. From there, I select my top three priorities for the day by asking myself, "What are 3 things I can achieve that would make today a good and productive day?" It's important to remember to be realistic with these daily priorities. For instance, on weekdays following a full day of placement, I allocate less time-consuming tasks, reserving the more demanding tasks for weekends when I have more time and brain power to dedicate to them.
Your priorities will inevitably align with the goals that you have set for yourself, meaning that you must set clear and specific goals within your projects, personal life, and medical journey. Note that changing seasons of life come with changing priorities which means that during the thick of exam season, my responsibilities pertaining to my external projects would be less of an immediate priority whereas outside of exam season, I would have more liberty to prioritise non-medical commitments. An effective goal-setting and prioritisation method would mean that you will have prepared for these time-pressured seasons beforehand to ensure that your projects can still run smoothly with your reduced presence.
With all things considered, we must ensure that we look after ourselves and put our mental well-being above all things – remember that by investing time to rejuvenate your spirit, you enable yourself to give generously from a place of abundance. Ultimately, wearing multiple different hats alongside medicine is no easy feat – it requires discipline, structure, and a clear understanding of your 'personal why'. According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, "...the person who builds better habits gets better results. It's not the outcomes. It's the inputs." A practical framework and consistent effort will enable you to diligently manage your work, studies, and projects while avoiding excessive stress and burnout.
With these elements, alongside the guidance provided above, one can embark on the journey of mastering the balance between external projects or side hustles and a thriving medical career.