Time Management Hacks for the Hectic Schedules of Medical Professionals

It’s no question that physicians maintain hectic schedules. From patient appointments to meetings with colleagues to having to handle unavoidable administrative tasks, physicians have a lot on their plate. And for many, it often seems like there’s never enough time to do all they have to do.

But there is if you know how to manage your time.

Time management is an essential skill that all medical professionals can and should develop. Here are five time management hacks to help you better deal with your hectic schedule.

Limit Interruptions

From phone calls to email notifications to staff members knocking on your office door to ask a question, interruptions take precious time out of the day. If you can limit how often you’re interrupted, you’ll instantly have more time to focus on the task at hand.

Checking emails and listening to voicemails can be a huge drain on time, especially if you stop what you’re doing every time a new call or message comes through.

Rather than letting every communication interrupt you, block out specific hours throughout the day to focus specifically on checking and responding to messages.

Delegate As Many Tasks as Possible

Physicians should never do tasks that other staff members can handle. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if someone else can handle it, someone else should.

Delegate tasks to office staff whenever possible. For example, let your front desk staff handle all financial matters regarding patient billing. Let your medical assistants field phone calls and document patient medical histories. Rely on your nursing staff to measure vital signs, collect lab samples, and contact patients with test and lab results.

The less tasks you handle, the more time you’ll have to focus on the things that only you can do. Just make sure you delegate the right tasks to the right staff members and that everyone is trained properly so that they can handle their duties efficiently and effectively.  

Analyze Your Daily Patterns

If you’re constantly running behind on patient appointments or spending hours after work catching up on paperwork or administrative tasks, it’s time to adjust your schedule.

Analyze your current patterns to determine where and why you’re falling behind. For example, if you often run late for patient appointments, consider building ten or fifteen minute breaks in between appointments rather than scheduling them back-to-back. If you’re short on time because colleague meetings always run longer than expected, plan for that.

Building downtime into your schedule gives you a chance to catch up and remain on track so that your entire day doesn’t get derailed by mid-morning.   

Make Better Use of Technology

Make sure that your EHR system is optimized and up to date. The faster it runs and the easier it is to use, the less time you’ll waste updating and searching patient records. When a system is upgraded or updated, invest the time to learn the system inside and out. This may eat up some time in the beginning, but it can save you hours in the long run.  

Consider offering telemedicine services as well. Virtual visits, especially for follow-up appointments, can be done in a matter of minutes, saving time for physicians, medical staff, and patients. Checkout this article to see just how rapidly the number of telehealth visits has increased over the past several years.

Schedule Personal Time

Taking breaks and scheduling personal time away from practice helps you refresh your brain and be more focused when you return to work. When you’re more focused you’re more productive, and the more productive you are, the more time you can free up for other things. Time off also helps you establish a better work/life balance.

Schedule short breaks, including lunch breaks, throughout each workday. Schedule weeks off to enjoy vacation time with family and friends. Take days off here and there to handle important personal to-do’s, such as meeting with your financial advisor or signing up for a disability insurance policy.

If you don’t already have a disability insurance plan, checkout this article from Physicians Thrive to learn why it’s so important to have and how much it costs.

In Conclusion

Hectic schedules are the norm for many physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals, so developing strong time management skills is a must.

Learn to limit interruptions. Create a schedule that builds in downtime, breaks, and time off.  Delegate tasks that other staff members can do and make better use of technology. The better you manage your time at work, the more time you’ll have for you — and that’s a goal that almost every medical professional wants to achieve.

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