Now more than ever, physicians are busier with day to day tasks but have less and less time for patients. In a study by the non-profit advocacy group, The Physician Foundation researchers found that the average physician spends at least 20 percent of their time doing uncompensated tasks. Considering that most doctors get paid based on patient productivity, it’s important to realize what time wasting activities professionals deal with. Sure, every practice is different and doctors adapt accordingly, but learning ways to increase productivity as a physician never hurts!
Whether you’re starting out in your career as a physician or have been practicing for years, productivity never becomes irrelevant. With every demand made on your time, you’re constantly evaluating priorities — especially working in higher stress specialities. After completing medical school it probably seems like nothing is impossible, and yet finding ways to increase productivity as a physician remains elusive — until now!
Increase Productivity as a Physician | Three Tips
1. Be Conscious of Your Internet Usage
Face it, we’re living in an overly connected digital world and that means information is inundating. With the addition of EHRs, there are plenty of physicians who find their daily schedules filled up with unnecessary amounts of time spent behind a screen. Not only that, but we’re always just one click away from the productivity black-holes of YouTube, Facebook, or LinkedIn. One major way to increase productivity as a physician is learning how to manage your internet usage.
One technique involves setting timers when you sit down to start working on something online. If you can finish your task before your timer goes off, you’ll know that you had been staying focused. At that point, it’s appropriate to take a short break of a couple minutes to give your brain time to avoid seeking time-wasting activities. And if you’re really struggling with this, certain apps exist to actually disable sites that waste your time such as RescueTime. Whatever you choose, becoming more conscious of your internet usage is one way many physicians increase their productivity.
2. Get to Work Earlier to Plan More Efficiently
Even if just for five minutes before the start of each day, taking time to plan out your schedule is another great way to increase productivity as a physician. Doing this for your personal agenda or even as a team will ultimately help everyone anticipate potential challenges before they arise. This might involve going over the list of patients with appointments that day, or even just checking into to see if there are any issues to address.
From a personal standpoint, getting to work earlier not only eliminates the need to rush but it also provides the opportunity to orient one’s self. Maybe you’ll end up using this time to take some deep breaths, or even catch up on some EHR work that got left over. Whatever you decide, adding slightly more time to your schedule can go a long way, especially before the pressures of the day start to add up!
3. Learn to Delegate Tasks to Guard Your Schedule
Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but as a doctor, you’ve probably confronted the tendency to be a bit of a control freak. In reality, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing — as long as you can harness your ability to direct and delegate team members as needed! Instead of doing everything yourself, start by understanding ways you can organize tasks to better utilize everyone’s time. Although doctors often take on more than they should, it’s important to know just how much you can realistically accomplish in a day.
One final way to really increase productivity as a physician is to make it clear when you’re not to be disturbed. Maybe that means putting your phone in airplane mode or just closing the door to your office. Really, just making it clear when meetings about important subjects need to take place will help the flow of everyone’s schedules. The bottom line is don’t overextend yourself, while at the same time knowing what demands you can accommodate.
Have any more suggestions to increase productivity as a physician? Let us know in the comments below!