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How does working long hours affect your relationships, hobbies, and interests?

I'd like to direct this question mainly to those in the medical field because that is what I'm looking to go into, but any insights are greatly appreciated! Even as a high school student I've had to put some of hobbies and interests on the back burner because of all of the school work and activities going on, but there has always been that "I'll have more time once ____ is over." Do you find yourself having to push these kinds of things off? How do you balance all of the aspects of your life while still having time to do the necessary household chores, etc? How does being on call play into that?
#working #time #medicine #balance #timemanagement #relationships #hobbies

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Austin’s Answer

Hi Emily,

Great question. So while I am not in the medical field, I have to balance long hours with many other commitments and hobbies which is not easy to do, but is very much possible. As a consultant I am expected to work 50+ hours a week plus working from home sometimes if things get really serious. Because of my long hours and other work commitments I am definitely pressed for time which impacts my personal life for sure. I have had to become really disciplined with my time so that I am able to balance many different priorities. There are times where I am not able to see my friends on the weekends due to a work related activity or times during the week where I wish I could spend time running errands where I am not able to do because of a work commitment. There is a cost to everything and work can sometimes interfere with other aspects of my life, but it's not the end of the world. I usually am commitment-free on the weekends and can spend the time doing whatever I like to do. I always try to plan out my weekends and schedule time so that I am able to do the most amount of things and see the most amount of people.

It is important to stay organized and on top of things because you don't want to overcommit yourself to things by accident. If I am seeing a friend on Saturday, I will try and schedule Sunday for something else. It can be tempting to focus your time on one aspect of your life, but you are going to need to space out seeing one person/doing a certain. In order to remain involved in your hobbies and have friends you are going to have to divide up your time. It is never easy to say "no" to people but it is something that you are going to have to do.

Also, consider limiting the number of different things that you are involved in if possible. If you are able to limit the number of commitments you have, the more time you will have to spend time doing the remainder of the things you'd like to do. This is by no means easy or fun, but sometimes it is required in order to give yourself time to do things that are the most important to you. If you are truly committed to one hobby or time commitment, eliminating aspects of your hobbies/extracurriculars will grant you more time to focus on a singular thing.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!!



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Michael’s Answer

Hello Emily,

You're absolutely right - as a focused professional working long hours or on call, you'll live a different lifestyle and schedule than lots of other people working 9-to-5 daytime jobs. As a medical professional, you'll be working very long shifts, serving on call, and generally keeping an irregular schedule. It'll be challenging to make the time to spend with old friends, especially if you relocate, but it's worth the effort - even if you don't see them as often.

First, the really practical stuff: when you're working long hours and an irregular schedule, time is precious. Don't be afraid to invest in things that will save you time and improve your quality of life! Find an apartment/condo building with a concierge who can accept deliveries for you during the day, let contractors in (e.g. to hook up cable, work on plumbing, etc. etc.), or take your dry cleaning. Lots of my colleagues have Amazon Prime accounts and order just about everything through them. If there isn't anyone available to accept deliveries, take a look at Amazon Key. Hire a housekeeper. Trust me - it makes an enormous difference having someone come in for a couple hours every two weeks, and you likely won't have the time. If you're like me and awful at ironing clothes, see if there's a local laundromat that will wash and fold everything for you once a week. I know lots of professionals who use services like Hello Fresh for groceries and recipes. There are also services for monthly personalized clothing delivery, and just about everything else. The point is - outsource the things that you're bad at in order to free up the little time you have available to spend doing things you like.

You'll have the opportunity to make new and enduring friendships in your new field. I've served in a few high-pressure environments such as Afghanistan, Libya, and Myanmar, and every time made deep connections with those who were working alongside me in difficult conditions. The same is true of my friends who went through medical school: their shared experiences led to deep bonds that persisted after they graduated. They vacation together, go visit each other, and celebrate milestones with each other - it's really amazing.

Carve out time for yourself and your hobbies, no matter what. Travel with your friends and have adventures in places you never thought you would go. Pick an outdoor activity and do it a lot (if I remember right, biking was really popular with the medical students I knew - I go scuba diving). Cultivate a passion and make that your safe place. Mine is cooking - when I need some zen (and snacks), I carve out an evening to make whatever strikes my fancy.

There will always be a virtually unlimited amount of work available to do - but you only get so many friends, and opportunities to spend time with them (or yourself).

Best regards,


Michael recommends the following next steps:

Enjoy post-secondary education and immerse yourself in the experience!
Decide whether a high-pressure, high-intensity career/job is right for you.
Always carve out time for old friends and new adventures.
Outsource tasks that you're bad at, to free up time for what you want to do.
Pick one outdoor activity and one hobby to really stick with, and do them a lot.

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Ana Isla’s Answer

Working long hours may affect your relationships, hobbies and interests if you are unable to prioritize. Working long hours sometimes involve running out of time to enjoy your personal life but you must be able to organize yourself, your hours and remember that all in your life should not be working. Find your ideal life balance.

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Richard’s Answer

During medical school and residency, you won’t be in control of your own schedule which makes hobby and relationship time difficult to obtain. However, after training, you can be in more control and can choose what practice to join based on your needs. You can work less and have more time for outside interests at the cost of making less money and possibly consulting on less interesting cases

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Samantha’s Answer

Hi Emily,

You need to make time for both and have a healthy work-life balance.

When people don't have time for hobbies and their families, businesses pay a price. Hobbies can make employees substantially better at their jobs for these reasons; they reawaken your creativity, give you a fresh perspective, and boost your confidence.

Take time for yourself, always!

Sam :)