Physicians have many tasks and responsibilities vying for their time, including mountains of paperwork, increased patient volume, electronic medical record demands, outdated technologies, and countless interruptions. All of these issues add stress and affect the ability of physicians to focus on their primary purpose for getting into medicine in the first place: caring for their patients. If you are dealing with exceptional levels of stress as a physician, the tips below will help you to increase your productivity and boost your job satisfaction. Better productivity can also improve patient care.
1. Delegate EMR tasks.
As a physician, you will encounter electronic medical records on a regular basis. However, with so many other things on your plate, handling this responsibility is taxing. If you aren't proficient with your facility's EMR system, you will spend even more time on this issue. To save time while still ensuring the proper data is recorded, consider delegating EMR tasks to other members of your team.
2. Establish and protect your daily schedule.
With so much to be accomplished each day, keeping a tight schedule is essential. Establish a schedule for each day of work, and protect your schedule throughout the day. Take control of your schedule from the beginning of the day, and don't allow anyone else to force additional meetings or nonessential responsibilities on you once your schedule has been established.
3. Work in bursts.
Multitasking is sometimes a necessity, but it can be counterproductive when it isn't focused. Instead of switching back-and-forth between different tasks all day long, concentrate on one task at a time as often as possible. Efficient multitasking involves completing similar tasks at the same time. This allows you to focus all of your energy on a single thought process, rather than engaging in the intensive mental gymnastics of switching between different subjects.
4. Turn off all distractions.
Distractions are everywhere, from notifications on your phone to the noise in the hallway outside your office. For most physicians, these distractions lead to lost time and lost productivity. When you sit down to handle essential tasks, remove as many distractions as possible. Turn off any notifications on your phone or computer, and wear noise-canceling headphones if ambient sounds bother you.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
As a physician, you already know that sleep is vital for both health and productivity. However, if you are like many physicians, you may not be taking your own advice. Without enough sleep, you will have trouble concentrating, and you may be more prone to make mistakes as well. Make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep every night.
6. Get some light exercise throughout the day.
As with sleep, most physicians already know that regular exercise is critical. Throughout the day, use small segments of time to engage in physical activity. For example, you may do some lunges in the hallway, push-ups on the floor, or squats by your desk. These activities will get your blood circulating and help you wake up. Regular physical activity during the day can also help you snap out of the mid-afternoon energy drain, and it can alleviate stress, improve your mood, and boost concentration.
7. Optimize your workspace for maximum efficiency.
When you are organized, you can complete almost any task faster and with greater efficiency. Keep your work space optimized so that the items you use most frequently are easy to find and access. Otherwise, you will find yourself wasting time looking for tools or documents, rather than being truly productive.
8. Anticipate the needs of staff and patients.
Staff members and patients often ask the same types of questions or face predictable problems. Try to anticipate common problems or questions so you can provide the needed information up-front. This will minimize interruptions, allowing you to work more efficiently.
Life as a physician is intense, but these productivity tips can help you feel more in control of your time. As you see your productivity increase and your stress decrease, you will also be able to enjoy a better overall quality of life.