The Never Ending Search for More Time

Posted on October 10, 2016 by VITAL WorkLife

DocThe dollar value of time is difficult to measure.

Some people consider the value based on their hourly wage. Others consider the time they spend with family and friends as priceless. No matter how you look at it, everyone agrees there is never enough of it. Physicians and providers know this all too well. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors, on average, work 10 hours more a week than other professionals, with nearly 40 percent working 60 hours or more. (1) And that was four years ago. The substantial increase in the administrative burden placed on health care professionals in recent years, along with the aging population is taking a heavy toll and driving the number of incidents of over-stressed and burned out physicians to an all-time high.

So what can be done?

WorkLife Concierge

There’s a difference between “having it all” and “doing it all.” As part of Physician Well Being Resources from VITAL WorkLife, physicians/providers and their family members can take advantage of a broad range of personalized, time saving services to help with daily living tasks. WorkLife Concierge is an all-in-one travel agent/personal assistant, free for you and your family to use as often as you like.

Here are a few examples:

  • Deliver meals to your family while you are working late
  • Research colleges for your high-school junior
  • Day-to-day support for aging parents
  • Yard and home maintenance while you’re with patients
  • Find your kids a summer camp
  • Get help planning a destination wedding or a family reunion
  • Find a replacement for your leaky, 15-year-old dishwasher and clean up the mess before you get home

Time-Management Skills

Time management has been taught to business professionals for years. It is not a topic that is necessarily presented to physicians and providers. A Medscape article listed 12 time management tips specific to Doctors.

Here are three examples:

  • Develop self-awarenessTake a close look at your strengths and weaknesses. Consider the times of the day you work better and recognize when you typically struggle – some people are morning people and others feel energized later in the day. Try to plan your projects accordingly.
  • Establish a strategy for dealing with messagesUsing your improved self-awareness; identify the best way for you to respond to messages. Some doctors set aside a small block of time every 2-3 hours while others sneak in a couple of calls between patients. Don’t wait until the end of the day as you’ll have a backlog and potentially angry patients leaving multiple messages.
  • Set the agendaBe prepared for each patient visit and review the specific topics, symptoms, treatments and questions with your patient. Gain agreement on what can reasonably be accomplished during your time together.

Time Saving Tips from Doctors

Last year, Physicians’ Life asked a group of doctors in Rhode Island for tips and tricks on how they find a little time and space in their hectic schedules. Here are a few of their suggestions.

  • Get to work an hour before your shift starts and avoid interruptions.
  • Use a paid homemaker to take care of your family, your house, run errands, grocery shop and even help take care of aging parents.
  • Utilize voice activation services for real-time documentation and to help with capturing the most accurate patient information.
  • Make a list and prioritize. Put time for yourself and family at the top.
  • Time-Saving Apps: For iPhone: Checkmark, Due, Evi, Vokul and for Android: Aivc, Life Reminders, ToDoReminder, Skyvi

We Can Help

If your time management skills are having an impact on your work or home life, consider taking advantage of your VITAL WorkLife Resources, like Peer Coaching, Counseling or WorkLife Concierge. Contact VITAL WorkLife at 877.731.3949 or through the VITAL WorkLife App any time, day or night, for the support you and your family need.

(1) “Time in the bank: A Stanford plan to save doctors from burnout,” by Brigid Schulte, August 20, 2015, The Washington Post

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