Physicians, practice managers and medical staff everywhere, we know your time is valuable. Since the response from our previous blog post on "life hacks" for doctors was so positive, we decided to add to the list. Here are six more simple tips that can make your day more stress-free and productive!
1) Leave Early
This tip from Kevin MD is actually a great productivity hack for the whole office. A meeting has reached a decision or action plan, but hasn’t officially ended yet? Leave early. You’re done with your tasks for the day, and maybe even a little ahead of schedule, so you’re using the downtime at the computer or making small talk? Leave early. This applies to your personal life, too — leave arguments, cocktail parties and gossip-focused phone calls sooner than you normally would. Your time is valuable, so make sure you’re spending it wisely.
2) Learn to Work Smarter
We've previously talked about using downtime for CME, but there are also quick ways to become more productive in just a few minutes each day. Try looking for journaling tactics, such as bullet journaling, that can help you remember daily to-do's and highlight the important moments of your day. Or teach yourself a new skill, such as basic coding or new email marketing techniques, that can be used around the office to get more done every day.
3) Ask for Help
This can be a tough habit to break. Sometimes we equate asking for help with laziness or incompetence, but that’s simply not the case at all. You probably have some idea of your office staff’s skills inventory — that is, the catalogue of skills that each person is best at. Utilize it! If you face a particularly daunting financial puzzle, or are having trouble composing an email, don’t hesitate to ask someone who can take a look with fresh eyes. It’ll be faster than laboring over the task yourself for longer than you should.
This extends beyond your personal practice investment as well. Don’t be afraid to call in the help of outside billing services, a marketing team, or other departments that your staff just doesn’t have the resources to tackle. As soon as you shut off your panic button when asking for help, you’re on your way to getting everything done faster and with less stress.
4) Get Comfortable
One of the downsides to the connected age is the strain electronics can put on your body — slumping over tablets, squinting at phones and staring at screens all day isn’t great for you. Make sure your computer has a large monitor, and install a light temperature-changing program like f.lux so your eyes won’t be quite as tired at the end of the day. Invest in an ergonomic chair, a raised keyboard stand, or wrist cushions to make typing all day less of a hassle. And consider keeping a mini fridge at your desk so you can always stay hydrated.
5) Sign Up for Netflix
Or Hulu. Or Amazon Prime Video. Or if you’d rather read, try Kindle Unlimited or a book-of-the-month subscription. The important thing is that you “subscribe” to downtime, especially if you have trouble leaving work at the office. Paying a small fee for a service will make you want to use it, and choosing something with flexible scheduling options will make sure you actually can use it.
If you sign up for a subscription mailer like candy, makeup or clothing deliveries, try making your “unboxing” a ritual and relish the opportunity to have a little fun in the middle of the week. Or, try something you can do at a moment’s notice. Many spas have monthly massage packages that often include unlimited use of automatic massage chairs or beds, in 15- or 30-minute sessions that you can squeeze in on the way home. All the more reason to leave work a little early.
6) Re-define “Everything”
Yes, technically, you need to get everything done at some point. But decide what “everything” really means to you. Does it include tasks that other people have fallen behind on and you feel obligated to pick up? Does it include tasks that won’t move you towards your monthly, quarterly or annual goals? If you have trouble saying “no” to people, changing the meaning of “everything” gives you a little more leeway to back down from a challenge.
Consider the necessity of what you’re being asked to do, and realize that “everything” can change based on your other priorities, your staff’s responsibilities and your own mental health. You don’t have to get everything done in a week. As long as you hit everything important, you and your practice will be fine.
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