Twenty plus patients to see. Not enough time. Always running behind. 30…60 notes behind. Drowning. Never caught up. Anxiety ridden at the growing mountain of charts each day. I sat in our hotel room in Orlando on spring break and prior to going to the Disney parks with my family, I would chart for 2-3 hours every day. I resented it. Why did it have to be this hard? Why was I always behind? Yes, I am thorough, yes, I am meticulous, and I am a good listener.
Coming back from that spring break, I vowed, never again would I dedicate any part of my vacation to chartng. I had to find a better way. I had to prioritize time with my family on vacation, and for me, to recharge. It was imperative.
I brought mindfulness to time management. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgement. So, I assessed my use of time at baseline. I did an exercise called the Priority Matrix to help me see what activities were low importance and low priority that I could drop. This included unnecessary screen time on my phone and with TV. And you know what? I found time, by simply ceasing to watch TV, and being mindful of how much I used my phone. I’d take 1-2 hours the morning of or the day before clinic to pre-template my notes. I used to dread this and resent that I was working outside of hours I was actually getting paid for but prioritizing this preparation time has been invaluable. I made a cozy corner for me at home, with a comfy chair, a small table with a view of nature, playing my favorite tunes, with a cup of tea, setting the stage for a work environment that didn’t feel like work anymore. It was my space- with the time and environment for me to get ready for the clinic day. Here, I would review my prior note, or the referral request, look at test results, import them into my new note, and have an idea of what to hone in on for the patient encounter. I am now 99% able to close my patient encounters with the patient sitting there in front of me, before they leave the room because of this mindful pre-templating. For no-shows, my electronic medical record has a way in which to save those notes, that remain visible only to me, so that when the patient reschedules, I can re-access the note so that my prior work is not wasted. Closing my notes within the time that I am scheduled to be in clinic has been life-changing. The sense of satisfaction, the ability to leave work at work has dramatically improved my well-being.
I want to share what has worked for me during my mindful doctoring journey. I’m always trying to improve, mindfully doctoring myself to be mindfully efficient, while being reinvigorated, back in touch with my reason for choosing medicine. Mindfully thriving, in the practice of medicine.
I’m offering a very special discount for my first offering of the Mindful Doctor Course. Please join me and reclaim your presence at home and at work. Click on my photo to register and for more information.