3 tips to boost your productivity without busting your work-life balance

By Jonathan Ford Hughes, for MDLinx
Published November 21, 2018

Key Takeaways

Doctors are time-starved. With fewer doctors working and added workplace demands, such as the time-consuming upkeep of electronic medical records (EMRs), physicians have more patients to see and less time to see them.

That leaves them with two options. Option one is to work harder. This is a non-starter, given the current burnout rate among physicians—a rate that increased from 45.5% in 2011 to 54.5% in 2014, according to results of an August 2018 study published in the American Journal of Medicine.

The other option for physicians is to work smarter by improving their time management. Here are three small changes that you can make to squeeze a little more productivity out of your already busy days.

Set limits on social media

In its latest report, Nielsen, the data analysis company, found that the average American adult spent approximately 45 minutes daily on social media during the first quarter of 2018. An occasional mental break to check on Facebook friends or Instagram photos may help, but think about what you could do with an extra 45 minutes in your day?

For those of you who are probably thinking right now, “Not me—I’m not on social media that much.” Have you checked?

The latest iPhone software update came with Screen Time, which will show you how much time you’re spending on social media. You can even set limits to your social media consumption, as well as see how many times you unlock your phone, use productivity apps, or consume entertainment. Need a timeout from your phone to focus on a project or critical task? You can even schedule blocks without screen time using Downtime.


According to Dike Drummond, MD, CEO, TheHappyMD.com, doctors struggle with delegation.

“We’re conditioned to be super hero, workaholic, Lone Ranger, perfectionists,” Dr. Drummond said in an interview with Physician Sense. “Nobody teaches the off switch on doctor. A workaholic only has one coping mechanism and that’s to work harder.”

Doctors have to push past what Dr. Drummond calls their “never-show-weakness” training and realize that asking for help is not a form of weakness. It’s actually a form of strength. Struggling with a difficult patient? Ask another doctor for their opinion. Bogged down in EMRs? Hire a medical scribe. You can also lean more heavily on your support staff and the nurses on your team in times of greater need.

You can even delegate in your personal life. Have you considered getting a virtual assistant? They’re not just for celebrities and high-powered CEOs. Digital assistants can handle everything from scheduling pick-up and drop-off of your white coats from the cleaners to gathering information on research topics. Virtual assistant options exist for all price points.

Set priorities

Many people set out on self-improvement plans or make New Year’s resolutions that only crash and burn. Why do so many fail? For one, they attempt to take on too much.

The Five-Minute Journal has been a runaway success among entrepreneurs and CEOs because it helps clarify what is essential for you to accomplish in a given day. However, you don’t necessarily need to shell out for the journal to reap its benefits. At the beginning of each day, just ask yourself, “What are three accomplishments that would make today great?”

As you progress through your day, keep these priorities in mind. Is the task at hand that’s demanding your attention an opportunity to support or accomplish one or more of those priorities, or is it a distraction? If it’s a distraction, set it aside. If it’s an opportunity, then get to work.

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