In this new installment in the “How I Work Smarter” series, we are featuring Dr. Mike Mallin (@UltrasoundPod), who is half of ultrasound education royalty with Dr. Matt Dawson, who was featured last week in this series. Mike’s work is impressive and I often cite and quote his 2014 publication in Academic Medicine entitled “A survey of the current utilization of asynchronous education among emergency medicine residents in the United States” [Pubmed]. Genius idea for a paper, which no one has done before. Mike was kind enough to share his sage words of wisdom. Did you know he has sub-macros for his macros? #MindBlown 

What’s your office workspace setup like?

I’ve got several. Sometimes I work at home, in the office, at a coffee shop, or on a run with my phone. My work has to be mobile, because I’m always moving around and get my best work done when traveling. I’ve got several mics at work and home so I can record in both places. I keep all my work on a Macbook Air that I never turn off and a Dropbox account that is bulging at the seams. My home office has a green screen setup and sound dampening foam on the walls. My work office is full of screens for teaching during our weekly QA sessions.


office 2

CF 2013 podcasting

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

Set goals for the each day and each week. I keep a running list of goals on a piece of post-it paper (yes, written with pen… I know) attached to my computer. That way I see it every time I open it. The pen and paper gives me the satisfaction of crossing though when tasks are completed and crumpling the paper when I finish a list. I love that feeling.

What’s your best timesaving tip regarding email management?

Best move: start a podcast with a hypomanic guy that lives somewhere 2 hours ahead of you so you wake up to a bunch of emails that he’s already answered.

Seriously, teach your Siri to understand you while you’re running. You’d be amazed at how many emails you can answer like that. A good mic on your headphones helps…

Also, move important emails to Gmail tasks, or Todolist. I recently downloaded the Mailbox app and am happy to report I’m now at mailbox zero!

What’s your best timesaving tip in the ED?

Run the board every time you come back to it to figure out what you’re missing or what you’ve forgotten. Dispos are usually waiting on you, not the other way around. Minimize excess movement by combining trips to multiple adjacent rooms at a time. Take report from the student or resident at the patients bedside, and integrate your own history and exam at the same time (or while you’re performing the ultrasound). Makes for more patient interaction and better teaching… sometimes.

ED Charting: Macros or no macros?

I even use sub-macros for my macros.

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

Don’t be afraid to fail. My dad told me this and I think it’s applied in more areas of life than I ever imagined.

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

Sometimes efficiency blurs the line between personal and work life. Don’t let it do that if you want to stay sane and productive for years to come.

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

  • Cliff Reid
  • Mike Stone
  • “Mike Dawson”
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