In this new installment in the “How I Work Smarter” series, we are featuring one half of ultrasonography royalty, Dr. Matt Dawson (@UltrasoundPod), who has dominated the EM ultrasound world along with Dr. Mike Mallin (who is featured next week!). I am always impressed with how Matt can do it all – create, podcast, publish e-books and journal articles, and email responsively. Take a read of his practical pearls, although now I no longer wonder how he manages to reply to emails so promptly …

What’s your office workspace setup like?

I can’t sit still, so I have several work spaces and usually use them all throughout the day. I have a work office with plenty of screens to work on and a green screen thumbtacked to the wall always ready to record something ridiculous if inspiration strikes.

work office

At home I have a desk, but I usually record in the closet because the soft clothes dampen the sound and give the best acoustics. When not recording, I actually do most work on a spinning bike at home because I can’t concentrate well with my heart rate below 100. To be honest, though, I always have my laptop and a Rode USB microphone with me so I can work from anywhere. (see attached pic of said offices – the one with Mike is the back of rental car driving in Alaska).

recording studio bike office

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.13.16 AM

What’s your best timesaving tip in the office or home?

Concentrate on projects that you can find several uses for. It’s one of the reasons I started podcasting. It was very painful to spend many hours creating a lecture for a group of students and then be done with it. Now I choose work that I can use for various projects. An example is the a large lecture set that Mike Mallin, Mike Stone, and I worked on for over a year. We’ll now use it for the Ultrasound Leadership Academy, the podcast, Course in a Box, for our students locally, and at courses we teach. It gives us the motivation to spend a ton of time on it and really get it right if it’s going to be used for multiple purposes.

What’s your best timesaving tip regarding email management?

I always answer at least 1 email while going to the bathroom, and 2-3 if doing number two… Think about that the next time you open an email from me.

Also, I’ve got an awesome app for gmail called “boomerang“. It let’s me schedule emails to send later, get read receipts, track how many times links are clicked on in the emails, automatically send again if not opened in a certain time period, and all manner of wizardry.

What’s your best timesaving tip in the ED?

I carry a portable ultrasound machine in my pocket. As many scans as I do, it’s amazing how many times I’m searching for and lugging the machine around. 80-90% of the time, I can answer the clinical question (hydro, pneumo, AAA, gallstones, IUP, etc) with my pocket machine as soon as I talk to the patient instead of going to get the machine and coming back to the patient.

ED Charting: Macros or no macros?

Macros or no macros? Tons of macros.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient?

Delegate! I used to think it was a badge of honor to just do everything myself and plow through. Then I realized I really stink at a lot of things and it would be much more effective if I let people better than me do some of the tasks that need to get done. Focusing on my strengths and others strengths really makes for a much more productive team.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

As much as I’ve blabbered on above, my greatest secret to productivity is a very carefully compounded mixture of caffeine, Bengal tiger blood, and methamphetamines. Mix it wrong and it’s deadly, but get it right and you’ll work productively for days straight.

Who would you love for us to track down to answer these same questions?

  • Mike Cadogan
  • Chris Nickson
  • Roger Harris
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD