The world is a busy place and is going to keep getting busier. Everybody seems to be running against the clock and physicians are no different. Already swamped, physicians find themselves even busier with the addition of approximately 22.4 million new patients – courtesy the Affordable Care Act. Treating patients, administrative work, departmental and team meetings, conferences, keeping up with the latest developments in healthcare – all these coupled with taking out time for the family and other social commitments, is definitely taking its toll on our healthcare professionals. The result – stress builds up, energy levels drop and very often, mistakes occur. While this is true for nearly all professionals in most fields, the problem with healthcare professionals is that their mistakes can often end up being life threatening.
The reason why most people end up in such stressful situations is because they are not trained to manage their time. Professional courses (other than corporate management training programs) very rarely offer any training on time management. The result – most people end up juggling multiple activities with knowing how to streamline and manage them. Given below are some well tested time management tips that should help you – the healthcare professional to balance your time between the various activities throughout your day.
Prioritize your activities
One of the primary tasks in time management is to prioritize your activities of the day. Make a list of all that you need to do on that day and the time required for each one of them. Keep checking that list to see if you are falling behind schedule. However, remember that the list is not sacrosanct – adjust the activity and time if required. You will find yourself completing more tasks this way.
To effectively manage your time, you need to know what type of a person you are. Conduct a SWOT analysis to understand your strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities and threats that you face. Are you energetic in the mornings or the evening? Do you dash headlong into activities or are you prone to procrastination? Understanding yourself and then allocating time to your activity based on your strengths will help you manage them better.
Use technology to the fullest
Technology is a two way sword – while the internet has made it faster to send and receive messages; it is also the reason for a larger number of not so important messages interrupting you throughout the day. Use technology judiciously. There are software’s available that allow you to streamline your healthcare practice and reduce paperwork. Use mobile applications that allow your patients to review their medical records, book appointments and even get prescriptions without having to visit your facility, save time for both you and the patient.
Optimize your EHR
As in the tip on technology – your EHR can be productive or a time consuming part of technology. This depends totally on how user-friendly your system is, how functional it is for your practice and how well your staff and physicians are trained to work with it. Although it requires time and effort to optimize your system, it pays huge dividends in the long run saving your time and energy by cutting down on paperwork and allowing access to information on your fingertips.
Learn to delegate
You may be a ‘hands on person’, but remember you just have two hands. There is no shame or loss of control in delegating some part of your work to others around you. After all, your administration staff, medical assistants, interns and volunteers are there for this purpose – to take on responsibilities and work and leave you with time to manage your patient’s well being.
You are allowed to say ‘No’
People look up to you and ask for your help frequently – be realistic about your workload. Can you accommodate the request without compromising on your priorities? If yes, then go ahead but if the answer is no, then do yourself and the other person a favor by saying no. Saying yes when you should be saying no will only increase your stress levels, exhaust you mentally and physically and decrease your productivity – none of which will benefit either of you. Attending every conference, speaking at seminars is definitely good for your career – but only if you can continue your career without suffering a burnout from over-exhausting yourself.
Learn to relax
The brain rejuvenates itself when you relax – it could be a power nap, listening to music, taking a walk or just sitting with your eyes closed. A rejuvenated brain works faster and better, allowing you work more efficiently and thus save on the time taken. Schedule small relaxing breaks into your day and follow them as rigorously as you would follow your other activities.
- Casey, J. (2016). 6 Tips for Better Time Management. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/time-management-tips
- Kersley, S. E. (2016). Time Management – The five mistakes doctors make. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.support4doctors.org: http://www.support4doctors.org/detail.php/46/time-management-the-five-mistakes-doctors-make?category_id=15
- Reese, S. (2016, April 27). 12 Smart Time Management Tips for Doctors. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.medscape.com: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860328_2
- Taylor, J. (2013, October 15). 6 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.carecloud.com: http://www.carecloud.com/blog/6-time-management-tips-for-healthcare-professionals/