“Time Striping” for Surgeons

I want to draw your attention to a great hack added by LifeHack recently. Dustin Wax talks about “Timestriping”. This is a variant of time blocking and uses the time you have free to work on the same project for a little time each day. This seems to have excellent applications for doctors and medical researchers where free time is limited, and there are lots of important tasks to complete in them. This is designed for long blocks of unscheduled time, but could be adapted to the medical space.

Dustin explains how it works:

So what I’ve done is created a loose schedule where each hour is dedicated to a generic project, i.e. “Project #1″, “Project #2″, etc. As I finish a project, I slot a new project into its timeslot; if Project #5 only takes an hour, then tomorrow it will be something different. It’s conceivable that a particular time block will be used for 5 different projects over the course of the week.

Each slot, then, creates a “stripe” of time from Monday to Friday. In some cases, where I know I need more than 1 hour for a project, I’ll block off two hours or more and flow the rest of my projects around it. For instance, every other Thursday morning I record Lifehack Live, and I need two hours to prepare, record, and write up my notes. So that’s a block, instead of a stripe.

I know this program would work well for me when I am working on my PhD. I have truckloads of non-time-dependent things to do, and really poor self-motivation. This system would allow regular swapping of tasks, to keep my interest up. Furthermore, I could block out longer sessions for experimental work, and not interrupt my progress on regular background stuff, like journal article reading, grants applications and writing up my research.

An example of Time-striping for surgeons

Clincial doctors have different sessions free during their week, depending on their set up. Time striping would work by allowing them to work on four projects in each free session.

I have mocked up an example below for a mythical surgeon who is just starting out, so has 3 free sessions a week. She also has some time on a Thursday and Saturday morning, which could be used to work on one project. In this plan, she works on four project in each free session in the same order. More time is allocated to project one in the week, so projects will change over more quickly in this slot. Time-dependent tasks could be preferentially allocated to this slot, if there was a choice. Some may prefer to set up the first strip of the hour as their email checking or other regular task.

What do you think about this system? Would it work for you in your practice? Maybe others can share mock ups of how their plan might look.

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