One word that best describes how you work?

Organized chaos (that’s 2 words)

Current mobile device

iPhone XS


2020 13″ Macbook Air + iPad with keyboard as a second monitort

What is something you are working on now?

Incorporating FOAM into our EM clerkship

How did you come up with this Idea/Project?

COVID decided for me — we’re working on a way to keep students engaged even though we’re still semi-distance learning. Additionally, I want to send my students into residency knowing that FOAM exists but needs to be assessed in the same way we think about peer reviewed literature.

What’s your office workspace setup like?

I have an office at our medical school that is a big flat surface in a square room with an internet connection. All of the art on the walls is of landscapes, no diplomas! It is off the beaten path (and also around the corner from the hospital Starbucks), which makes it a great place to get work done.

Since COVID, I’ve been doing the majority of my non-clinical work at home with essentially the same set up, but including a cat.

What’s your best time-saving tip in the office or home?

Everything goes into my Google calendar. If I need 30 minutes to read articles for our department journal club or food shopping, it goes in my calendar. It keeps me honest and on top of my to-do list. I try to protect a certain morning/afternoon a week (this year it’s Tuesday afternoon) for my own projects and writing and will defend that time from other obligations. I am still learning that I probably need 1.25-1.5x more time than I think to achieve any goal, though.

What’s your best time-saving tip regarding email management?

I am an inbox zero person. The 5 digit unread email number of one of my good friends gives me palpitations. My Gmail automatically sorts emails into buckets (e.g., advertisements, bills) so that my actual inbox is only emails that need immediate attention. If I can give a response immediately, I will. If I need more time to research an answer, I’ll reply as much, and stick it on my calendar to come back to. I’ve also really leaned into “snoozing” emails in both Gmail and Outlook. Things like the didactic conference schedule for this week or the agenda for a meeting later this week will get snoozed until 30 minutes before that time. Similarly, I schedule a lot of emails to be sent (like the medical student schedule that we send out weekly) so that I can put in a little bit of effort upfront and then trust Outlook to send that to faculty at a certain time.

What apps do you use to keep yourself organized?

Gmail, Tasks, and Google Calendar primarily. And also the notes app on my phone for random things that I don’t want to forget that come to me while driving or in the middle of the night.

How do you stay up to date with resources?

I subscribe to a few journal aggregators that send me weekly summaries of new articles and, of course, the EM:RAP and Twitter FOAM universe that sends me back to primary sources.

What’s your best time-saving tip in the ED?

Enter orders and write/dictate at least HPI/PMH after every patient. Every time I try to stack a bunch of patients (even low acuity ones) I end up getting interrupted and realize that I’m more behind than I thought.

ED charting: Macros or no macros?

Macros, with cautions. I have some standard physical exam and discharge instructions, but only use them for specific patients.


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

    Say no to things after your first year out. Once you know what you like, ask yourself: is the time/effort required to participate in [admissions committee/ interdepartmental project / extracurricular project] worth what you get out of it? If the answer is no, don’t do it. If the thing that you get out of it is rest/relaxation that is a valid reason.

  • What advice would you give other doctors who want to get started, or who are just starting out?

Say yes to things your first year out. This helps you meet people and learn about different niches that you can fill. But you can’t do this forever (see answer above).

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

Accept that things will not go according to plan and forgive yourself. One of the best things that I did in the last month was blow off a long meeting in that I had nothing much to add besides being a member of the quorum in order to go on a walk and watch a movie with my husband. I came back to work re-energized and was much more productive the next day. Totally worth it.

In the same vein, I’m a new mom and still struggling to find a balance between being home and present, clinical work, and non-clinical work, and am continuing to remind myself that as much as my son is growing, I am growing too! (Some days work out better than others).

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

  • Eric Blazar (@eblazar)
  • Sugeet Jagpal (@ysugeety)

Read other How I Work Smarter posts, sharing efficiency tips and life advice.

Laryssa Patti, MD

Laryssa Patti, MD

Assistant Professor
Emergency Medicine Clerkship Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
Rutgers - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School