Life Hacks for Doctors are not easy to come by. The life of a physician is very stressful and there is very little time to spare.
Finding ‘life balance’ seems like something from a self-help book. It would be nice to have but for doctors, it doesn’t work in reality. This is why life hacks for doctors work. Life hacks are basically taking the best of emerging technology and adding it into our routines to optimize performance.
With this in mind, here are 4 Life Hacks for Doctors that can simplify and also multiply results.
1) Update your own ‘Software’
Perhaps the best thing you can do to increase your effectiveness is to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. “Lifelong learners, physicians invest significant time in familiarizing themselves with the latest medical and health care policy developments. But many can get this information faster and easier than they realize” says David Pizzimenti, DO, director of medical education for Magnolia Regional Health Center.
One of Dr. Pizzimenti’s favorites is the free App NEJM This Week, produced by the New England Journal of Medicine. The app provides an audio summary of each week’s issues as well as research articles, editorials and more.
Just 20 minutes a day of reading or watching training can help to increase your knowledge and skills and make you more efficient and effective. It can also increase your confidence as a professional, and make your patients feel better cared for.
2) ‘Power Down’ at Night
It is amazing how easy it is to continue working in the evenings and at night. Thanks to advancements in smart phone technology, the connection never really severs. We are within arms reach of our phones almost 24 hours a day, even when we sleep, according to an article by Forbes.
One of the best life hacks is to simply stop looking at your phone after 7pm. Power it off completely if you can, or at the very least close all email and work-related apps. You might try this for a day or two to begin and notice how difficult it can be. The more you set this as a rule, the more you will find your mind clearer and focussed by the morning.
3) Focus on the 20 Percent
Vilfredo Pareto was famous for his theory of the 80/20 rule, meaning that 20 percent of your activities often account for 80% of your results. Sometimes it is even higher, depending on the situation.
The key to using the Pareto Principle is to observe your behavior and the results it brings. For one day, try writing down what you are doing every 30 minutes during the day, and the result it achieves. You might be surprised to find that often the results you achieve are due to less than 1 or two hours or actual ‘work’ per day.
From here you can outsource (or simply just stop) many of the tasks that give you little to no results. Another excellent idea is to time limit low value tasks (such as excess email checking) to a certain amount of time, or allot them time in your calendar each day.
Simply being conscious of the fact that some tasks are high value and some are low value, and asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing can make you more productive.
4) Ask for Help
This might seem overly obvious, but it is worth considering: how often do you ask for help in your daily life?
As a physician, there are many supportive people on your team, and just as likely in your personal life who want you to succeed. By simply asking for support when you are feeling tired, or overburdened you will find that a great deal of pressure can be removed.
If asking for help, or delegating is a challenge for you, here are some excellent tips from the UCSF Medical Center to help you get better at it.
Take heed doctors: you are not a machine, even though at times you might fantasize that you are. Thinking in terms or balance and downtime is essential if you want to be at your optimum when treating patients and making a difference. Care for yourself, and your level of care will be greater.