One word that best describes how you work?
Current mobile device
What is something you are working on now?
I am working on a series of EM department recommendations for the treatment of various environmental conditions, including heat associated injury and hypothermia, with multiple residents interested in wilderness medicine.
How did you come up with this Idea/Project?
Like all great projects, these were developed while chatting about interests over beers! We reviewed current recommendations from various sources during a wilderness medicine interest group meeting and discovered the department does not have official guidelines for these topics.
What’s your office workspace setup like?
Unfortunately, most work is done on the couch. When I need a truly dedicated space, I use my wife’s home office for multiple monitors and a desk.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?
Rely on a schedule! Be mindful and deliberate with your time so you can focus on a specific project for a shorter period of time in a day and know the boundaries of a new task. My calendar has brief “work periods” of 1.5 hours, where I turn off external alerts/distractions and plug away at a predetermined list of goals for one project. Also, use applications that will communicate with all of your devices seamlessly. If your email, calendar, to-do list, personal finance, etc. don’t play well with all of your devices, you won’t use them.
What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?
Don’t use it as a to-do list. I work hard to go through emails in the morning and at night and clear out or address them. If it is a request for a task or a new project/opportunity, I will respond right away with acknowledgment and let the person know I will give a full response before a deadline. Then that task gets added to my own to-do list, rather than the constant reminder and irritation of a positive email balance that continues to spiral out of control.
What apps do you use to keep yourself organized?
Apple Calendar app. My work, personal, and family calendars all get pushed to this. I have sub-calendars for to-do lists, exercise, work meetings, etc. I always open this up and make sure I am available before agreeing to a commitment.
I also recently switched to Microsoft To-Do after the app “Wonderlist” was acquired by the company. It allows me to create a specific “next step” action items for big projects and allows for some success momentum as I see progress. I can make personal deadlines and reminders as well as assign tasks to a daily to-do list.
How do you stay up to date with resources? (FOAMed, CME, Current Events, etc.)
With targeted subscriptions and personal organization. I subscribe to only a handful of resources that are automatically emailed to me or populate my podcasting app. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the incredible resources out there. I use Feedly as my aggregator and will scroll through frequently. After I exhaust my “go-to” resources, I search for Google FOAM.
What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?
Identify roadblocks to your flow and address them early on to decrease your aggregate cognitive load over the duration of your shift. Procedures and in-depth exams take priority so I can free up that mental space and be ready for more patients. #StopPuttingOffTheLumbarPuncture
ED charting: Macros or no macros?
Absolutely. I use “dot-phrases” when documenting and have a pre-populated chart. If you use macros, make sure you either created them yourself or are very aware of everything included in it and ultimately in your note. You always want to make sure every portion is reviewed to ensure all of the abnormal findings are changed from your prepopulated “normal exam.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about work, life, or being efficient? (Give multiple if you have them.)
Have and rely on a family and personal time calendar. I tend to have a self-inflicted busy schedule due to projects and work events, and it is easy for me to see free time and fill it up with work. However, I know it is essential for me to prioritize my family and ensure my wellness. My wife has access to edit my electronic calendar, and we frequently block off and reserve time for date night or time with friends. This helps me turn off “work brain,” as I am forced to complete my daily goals before spending time together, and I am not always thinking of my other projects or work.
Prioritize your work, not someone else’s. It is easy to start the day looking at your email and complete tasks like getting documents signed, responding to requests, and completing EMR training modules (yuck). These are all based on someone else’s timelines rather than your own. It is easy to go through a large chunk of time in your day completing tasks without making progress towards your personal goals and ultimately feel like you were “busy” but not “productive.” I set aside time blocks where I don’t respond to emails/slack/text messages and focus on one of my own projects.
Identify all of the small steps needed to accomplish a big goal and give yourself some wins by completing the tasks. It is sometimes very daunting to think of how to start or end a new project or job. I spend some time being mindful of all of the smaller steps that will need to be completed before finishing a final product. If you set and complete specific, measurable, and time-sensitive goals, you will gain that momentum to finish that fantastic project!
What advice would you give other doctors who want to get started, or who are just starting out?
Never stop learning. When you finish residency, continue to take the same advice we give to new residents: read as much as you can, learn something new each day from a patient. We are fortunate to have the best job in the world, and we must continue to grow and learn, allowing us to provide the best care possible throughout our careers.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?
Work with a mentor! Find someone you think has a sound system for organization or efficiency and reach out to them to ask what they do.
Who would you love for us to track down to answer these same questions?
- Mike Gottlieb
- Drew Kalnow
- Luz Silverio
Read other How I Work Smarter posts.