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New Rules of Time Management

Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, woman, mother, wife, friend... So many tasks and roles that a woman doctor need to embrace in her everyday life.

Trying to “work smarter, but not harder” to get it all done and feel good, is a challenge, but only till climbing the mountain with a fresh list the next day.

Doctor’s goals are simple: peace of mind and a sense that there is a control of their life doing a good job helping the people who need it.

Although we act as if time is a commodity, it has no tangible essence. It can’t be owned.

New Rules of Time Management.And though doctors constantly behave as if it’s unlimited, they know it better, especially as physicians.

All they really have, is the present moment. What is it they’re really trying to manage?

And, equally importantly, what sense of failure do they inflict on themselves with their continuing unsuccessful attempts to fit more than 24 hours of activities into each day?

Allocating the daily time is not a management game or a puzzle with a perfect solution and a prize for the winner.

It is the most important thing, concerning and effecting their lives.

It’s time to reclaim it and regain some calm, and even joy, in their everyday lives.

- Each day is allowed no more than three priorities or critical tasks. Each day gets 3 top priorities or critical tasks to accomplish.

No more. Once your critical tasks are done, you can call it a successful day, and it can only get better.

Seeing the important items ticked off your list by the end of the day and the week will give you immense satisfaction.

You will make forward progress on the things that matter most to you.

- It takes as long as it takes.

How many times have you experienced frustration when something didn’t go the way you planned – usually because it was going to take more time than you’d allotted for it?

The ultimate crime for you is anything that wastes your time and delay you from finishing another task.

This is a recipe for near-constant disappointment. New approach: it takes as long as it takes. If it needs to be done, it is a priority for that day, and it takes the time that it takes.

And you can settle down and enjoy that process, whatever it brings.

- Some things are just going to have to be good enough.

For things that aren’t today’s priorities or critical tasks, good enough needs to be good enough.

Your life isn’t long enough to allow you to be a perfectionist in everything you do. You need to choose my priorities and identify tasks where you can let go of perfection and settle for good enough.

You can delegate more and worry less. It should be one of tomorrow’s critical tasks if it needs that much attention.

- If it doesn’t contribute to my mission and vision, should I be doing it?

There are plenty of things in life we don’t have choices about, and this is not about those things.

This is about the things that we continually say “yes” to, even as we have a sinking feeling that we don’t really want to do them or will regret the time we’ve committed.

Reflecting on your values and what has meaning for you helps identify the projects that you’ll be glad to be a part of despite the time obligations.

Be courageous – gracefully say “no” to something! It won’t be the end of your career, and you’re going to feel deeply satisfied with not adding something else to your list of duties. Maybe your “no” will create an opportunity for a colleague.

- Limit things that distract you or sap your energy.

This could refer to emails and social media. Set parameters that feel right for you. Climb out of the rabbit holes and reclaim some time!

- Lastly, remember to keep yourself on your list.

Block time for yourself, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. Time to exercise, read, or just sit and think.

Time that belongs to you. You matter, and this is your life too. Be willing to ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” and listen to the answer for your own well-being.

Balancing our lives can feel like a struggle, but Burkeman is right:

‘‘We only get about 4,000 weeks on average. It’s not much time but accepting that can be liberating’’.

Get those critical tasks done and enjoy your day!

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