I have written about the need for more simplicity in medical careers and the reasons we get too complicated. I am planning to explore this topic in more detail. These posts are more brainstorming than advice, and I encourage everyone to share their thoughts in the comments.
Zen Habits have published a list of techniques for achieving a more simple life and how to edit your commitments, which are worth considering in a medical context. My thoughts are in italics.
- Simplify work tasks
- Learn to say no
- Limit media
- Purge your stuff
- Free up time - cut out time wasters, eliminate stuff you don’t like
- Spend time alone
- Be present, live in the moment
- Streamline your life
- Create a simple mail and paperwork system
- Clear your desk
- Establish routines
- Time to eat and exercise
- Simplify your goals
- Accept what you have
- Have an inbox
- Don’t accept stuff in. 1 in, two out
- Find simple systems in the things you do, not complicated systems
- Don’t consume advertisments
- Carry less stuff
- Live closer to work
Set up protocols for oft-repeated tasks. Automate things that you repeat often. Make sure there are no tasks that you do that are irrelevant to making decisions.
Choose one service task that you love - such as education, examining or research, and limit everything else that you feel you “should” do. Don’t get trapped into administration just because you get asked (unless you want to).
Media includes free magazines, laden with advertising. It also includes journals, particularly if you don’t read them.
Book in work time to do things that you need to do, like charting. Don’t get trapped doing it at home. Booking in work time will mean you sacrifice outpatients or meetings to get it done, not family time.
I find I need to write every task, and every worrying patient down. If I know I keep track of everything, I can focus on the present.
Digital systems might help here, but the aim is not the system, but the ability to handle every piece of information only once.
A clear desk helps define boundaries and protect patient information. Leave it clear at the end of the day.
Doctors in training and allied health staff rarely have their own space, so have no inbox. This means “stuff” can attack us from any angle. Creating an inbox substitute or process, like an “infolder” or a”indropbox” could make a huge difference. (You could store your pager in it and only come back to it when you felt like processing it…)
Advertisements clutter medical life more than most other things. We not only have junk mail and junk media, but also junk appointments and junk presentations. This is life clutter.
I always carry too much stuff in the hospital. Aim to only carry as much as you need to be in control.
What are your suggestions for a more simple medical life?
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