How to unlock more time in medical school

What if you could hack time? Medical students have it tough in that it often feels like there isn’t time to study AND convert notes into revision resources AND do placements AND build a CV AND socialise*.

The good news, is you can hack time to unlock more of it. Time to do what you want. Whether that be netflixing away, building a side hustle, improving your CV/portfolio or socialising.

Protecting yourself from burn out requires that you have plenty of time to chill yet still feel accomplished in the work you’ve done. That doesn’t mean working constantly.

The hours that ordinary people waste, the extraordinary leverage.

*AND put the bins out AND scroll through tiktok AND update the parents that everything okay when it isn’t, etc, etc.

🥜Article in a nutshell

  • What is time leverage
  • Four principles of unlocking more time
  • How you can hack time to ultimately study less

In case you didn’t know, this blog is a part of my Study Hacks series – my top tips on HOW to study at medical school to study smarter and unlock your time.

As MedEd is turning more and more digital, there are probably plenty of online resources you didn’t know about – I’ve collated all my top recommendations on WHAT to study in the MedEd Vault. Subscribe below to access!

📩 Discover the internet’s best medical school resources.

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🤔What is time leverage?

Time leverage involves filling dead space with active and purposeful intent towards your study goals.

My goal would be to study 2 hours a day everyday. But that didn’t mean go to lectures, go to the gym, commute home, have dinner THEN study. No! I’d find 10 mins here, 20 mins there, I’d fill in the dead time with studying so that it didn’t even feel like I was wasting time – but it would make up about 2 hours.

This habit has changed my work and productivity life. If you were to see me on my commutes to work I’m often doing something. I graft in my dead space so I can chill in my free time.

I’m going to share with you several ways in which I hacked time as a med student to consistnely rank top of the year academically whilst creating plenty of down time to invest in what mattered to me.

👏Finding dead time

First off, you’ll need to get into the habit of realising when you have dead time. There will no doubt be times in your daily routine that can be transformed into productivity time. Building up this habit will also help you spot when new opportunities to be productive arise.

Appreciating that we may be hit with dead time at very short notice, I always try to keep myself prepared. I make it a habit to carry around whatever I need to make the most of dead-time should it inevitably arise.

Examples of dead time:

Ask your “can I multitask” whenever you find yourself

  • At the gym
  • Walking somewhere
  • On public transport
  • Driving your car (audio only)
  • Waiting for pretty much anything

🤌Organising accessible resources

As dead time can creep up on you out of the blue, it’s pretty much essential to have whatever resources you’re wanting to cover easily accessible. When it comes to medical school, you’re going to want to have reading materials close by. Of course, the most useful will depend on the context. If you’re on a busy public transport then whacking out your laptop probably isn’t going to work, or if you’ve got a long walk ahead, reading at the same time isn’t going to cut it.

With MedEd, it mainly comes down to three modes of learning – reading, listening or reciting (outloud or in your head).


  • pocket guides – for me this was the Oxford hand book of clinical medicine and clinical specialties – the holy grails of medical education at medical school.
  • Kindles – download books to .mobi files or access as PDFs to pull up anytime, plus it fits in your pocket.
  • Podcasts and audio
  • Notion -or equivalent note-taking apps to access your lecture notes

Tip – you can combine the Feynman technique (read about it here) and active recall to create your own audio snippets ti listen to out and about.

💪Making acheiveable goals

So you’ve got into the habit of identifying and foreseeing downtime. You’ve got your easily accessible, context-dependent resources at hand. Next up is choosing what to study in your dead time. Of course again, this is all context depend and will boil down to your revision plan, what resources you have available, what content you feel most comfortable and the time you have available. 

This is why having revision aims over the longer term of a week or so is really helpful. If you have the goal of covering cardiology in any context over a single week, then you can be sure to focus your dead time attention on cardiology resources.

✊Locking in the habit

Each aspect of time hacking including preempting down time, carrying some easily accessible resources, having an idea of what you want to cover and then ultimately putting it into action is a habit that you need to form. It isn’t easy. There will be days you forget your resources, times that you feel too tired to use your dead space productively or unforeseen circumstances will crop up – perhaps you’ll bump into someone on your commute for example. None of this matters – the most important thing is to have the habit there so that over time, the net outcome will be to make more of your time.


Time leverage is an essential skill for productivity and one of the cornerstones by how I was able to consistently rank first at medical school whilst taking on lots of other stuff around my studies. Filling in your dead time will allow you to hit your regular study goals and leave your mind at ease to invest your free time in whatever else you please.

I hope this helps 🙌

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