In this new installment in the “How I Work Smarter” series, we managed to find one of Dr. Victoria Brazil’s (@SocraticEM) call-outs. Today we feature Dr. Natalie May (@_NMay), who is from Manchester, UK and is an active star blogger at St Emlyn’s. If you haven’t read it before, this is definitely a blog worth following. I like to think of ALiEM as the St Emlyn’s from across the pond. Natalie was kind enough to provide her insightful tips.
- Name: Natalie May, MBChB
- Location: Manchester, UK
- Current job: I’ve just finished my training in Emergency Medicine (residency equivalent) and am about to start work as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine. In the last four years, I’ve also been working towards an MSc in Emergency Medicine, completed a post-graduate certificate in workplace-based medical education, and passed my exit exams in addition to contributing to the St Emlyn’s blog – so there’s the day job (which is sometimes a night job) and a whole other job too.
- One word that best describes how you work: Opportunistically!
- Current mobile device: iPhone 5S
- Current computer: Macbook Air 13 inch
What’s your office workspace setup like?
As a trainee I haven’t yet had my own office space at work so most of my productive non-clinical time is undertaken at home or utilising coffee shops/time on trains!
My home office is a desk with a set of drawers and some organised folders of paperwork – but most of my life exists between my Google calendar, Macbook, a remote hard-drive (for archiving), online space through Dropbox/Googledocs (for mobile access to the most important things), and an old-fashioned notebook (for scribbling notes in one place).
What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?
Learn how you like to be organised by experimenting with different options (paper diary versus online versus Filofax) – develop a process that works for you, then invest time regularly in organising and planning. I love colour coding; my Google calendar has a variety of different calendars (work, study, teaching, social…). Each is colour coded and synched to my iPhone calendar so I recognise the division of my time at-a-glance. Each calendar has reminder functions set-up differently; every morning I get an email digest of items in the day’s “work” and “study” calendars, while for every entry in “birthdays” I get an SMS message 48 hours in advance, which I reckon is enough time to get a card in the post! I also know I like to have an A5 spiral-bound hardback notebook in my bag for impromptu scribbling of thoughts, blog post ideas and to-do lists.
What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?
Google Mail! I never delete anything, and I love the search function which has led me to try to make better use of subject lines so I can find things later. I use the favourite function and folders by topic to keep track of important stuff.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?
My slightly lame name-stamp which prints my full name and GMC number; I use it along with my signature in excess of 25 times a day and I think it saves me 10 seconds for every set of notes I am writing in while ensuring that my entries can be clearly attributable to me.
ED charting: Macros or no macros?
We use paper notes so no macros! But write clearly, logically and concisely – it’ll save you time in the long run in responding to complaints or incidents.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient?
Keep a check on your time balance; most of your time should be spent on things you love/enjoy and/or are passionate about. Ask yourself why you’re spending time on anything else.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?
While the Myers-Briggs personality inventory is by no means perfect, it’s been a great platform for understanding more about the way I work and the areas I need to develop.
Having a longer-term plan or vision for my career has been really helpful in making tougher decisions about the way I spend my time – but flexibility with bigger-picture plans is one of the hardest lessons for me (an ENTJ) to learn – I don’t always get this right and I’m working on it!
Who would you love for us to track down to answer these same questions?
- Tessa Davis
- Cliff Reid
- Lauren Westafer