We all can benefit from a dose of life management from time to time; however, when it comes to life management for physicians we tend to think they have it all together.
There is not a single occupation that does not have demands, stressors as well as rewards.
Perhaps physicians just stand out because they are who we turn to for optimal health and during times of crisis.
Afterall, if your doctor is able to see all those patients and show up at 2 o’clock in the morning at your hospital bedside he must have his act together, right?
A doctors life expectancy many years ago was only about 55, due to the demands of burning the candle at both ends, personal habits, and ignoring their own health issues.
Fast forward to 2011 and we see doctors living much longer; however, the burnout rate has escalated in certain specialties, especially primary care.
The changes you may be witnessing are doctors that once took care of you in the office and hospital are now making a choice to do one or the other. There are many reasons why they make the decision to do one or the other, but the primary response you will hear is needing more time for themselves, friends, family and the one they love.
It is no secret that the medical profession does not have a great track record when it comes to achieving success with long term relationships.
If a physician is leaving home at 6 a.m. and getting home at 10 p.m., something is going to eventually give even in the most committed of relationships.
Does this mean your doctor that has provided your care for many years suddenly doesn’t care about you?
Of course not, they are finally realizing that to provide optimal health care, they need to be taking better care of themselves as well.
Working up to eighteen hours per day does not leave anyone much time to focus on themselves.
To achieve health excellence we all need to address the spiritual , emotional , and physical aspects as our health care needs. We all know that being out of align in one aspect can wreck havoc on our overall health.
Doctors are required to be constantly learning new things, dealing with lower reimbursement, complying with documentation rules, seeing more patients, less income, phone calls, dictation, malpractice threats and many other issues all before they even consider the time their family wants and deserves.
I know, that is what they signed up for when they went to medical school, so they should just deal with it.
I am sure you have noticed that your doctor seems to spend less time with you year after year…the days of sitting down and chatting about your latest vacation or how the family is doing are about over. To maintain their incomes and expectations of the people that sign their paychecks, doctors are being pushed to see patients as often as every 10 minutes.
Now that is great if you are the patient that wants to get back to work and just has a cold or sore throat, but what about the older patient taking 10-15 medications for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. That visit will take a minimum of 20 minutes if no one talks.
So, I hope you can see the frustration many physicians face in the constantly changing world of health care.
Many would argue that physicians need to get better at managing their time.
How do you manage your time when their is no more time to manage.
Or is there?
Life management through time management for physicians is something we can all learn and benefit from.
If you are a doctor or someone dealing with the difficulties of any other profession, then the following strategies may help you achieve a more rewarding life in and out of the office.
1. Just Listen- instead of keeping your eye on the clock, take the time to allow your patient or customer to just talk about their problems, family and what makes them smile. Even if you only do this a couple times a day you will feel more rewarded for your efforts at the end of the day and your patient or customer will think you spent hours with them.
2. Emotional competence- look for emotional competence and professional competence when dealing with people and potential employees. Someone that knows what makes them happy, what upsets them, what they find satisfying, can be a great future asset to your business.
3. What Bugs You- take the time at the end of the day to make a list of the things that are bothering you before leaving the office.
4. Ask For Advice- ask your older patient or customer how they dealt with certain issues in the past. Their insight can be invaluable and many have a wealth of wisdom.
5. Stop Trying To Be All Things To All People- sometimes you just have to say, no, or I can not do this today.
6. Take Time Off- take regularly scheduled days off or half a day. Your patients and your staff
will eventually expect you to be off and unavailable during that time. Use the time for something you really want to do.
7.Become More Transparent– share with your patients, colleagues, and customers your struggle to find balance in your
life. They will most likely have some useful and uplifting advice.
8.Family Needs- ask your family what they need most from you. It may be something
different than you think. (Ask your office staff too.)
9. Spread Your Wings– when you’re out socially with colleagues and friends, make a real attempt to
talk about things other than medicine or business. There is a whole big world out there unrelated to the health care profession.
10. Balance Your Task- learn when to multitask and when to hyper focus on things that need your attention now.
11. Eat With Your Family- eat at least one meal a day with your family or with a friend. You will be perceived as having spent more time with them if you sit down and give them your full attention. Patients perceive the time spent with the doctor as much longer when the doctor actually sat down and listened.
12. Your Own Mental Health Team- develop a support system that helps you relieve or eliminate stress. Everyone needs family and friends to
rely on, but baby-sitters, house cleaners and someone to take care of the lawn can play a major role in keeping your stress under control.
13. Avoid The Office On Days Off- try to avoid getting into the habit of going into the office on the weekend or other days off, unless absolutely necessary.
It is rare you get caught up or stay caught up when you use the weekend instead of spending the time doing other things with family or using it for “me” time.
14. Keep Business Separate From Friendships- make friends with a few people who will agree to never ask you to be their doctor.
15. Learn To Shift- remember that life balance is a shifting concept and some days will be better than others.
16. Talk To Yourself- ask yourself a simple question, “Is doing ________ going to make me wish I was home with my family?” If so, graciously say, “No thanks, someone else will have to do it.”
17. Enjoy The Journey- realize that each one of us has our own mountain to climb. Try to remember to pause to enjoy the view along the way and to help and let yourself be helped by others you meet on the path.
Try to implement at least one of the above strategies into your business and life.
Learning how to tweak this and shift there will help create greater satisfaction and less stress leading to am more rewarding practice, happier relationships and more optimal health.