Welcome to the Women in Medicine Badass Radio Show, where we deal with the real issues to get you from Overwhelmed to Optimal. And now, your host, Dr. Sharon Grossman.
Woohoo! We are officially launched. I am so excited to talk to you guys and part of the reason being is that I am really a big fan of women in medicine and I understand some of the challenges that you guys are going through and I am excited to put this together for you guys where we can talk about what are some of these real issues in day-to-day life for women in medicine in particular. Women in general tend to carry this double-duty and, you know, the world doesn’t prepare us for having to deal with all of these responsibilities.
Now just a bit of background for those of you who don’t know me. I am a clinical psychologist and a success coach and I really specialize in things like Emotional Intelligence and helping people really manage their thoughts and create the results that they want in the world. And that’s part of what I’m going to be training and talking about in this podcast.
But today we’re going to talk about something that a lot of people really struggle with and that is how to balance work and home life. A lot of times, people think of the term work-life balance as something that is impossible because it sounds like a 50/50 split. But really, that’s not the case. But just to avoid any sort of confusion, we’re going to use the word work-life integration and that’s why I called this episode, “How to Integrate Your Work and Personal Life.” But it’s not just about the integration, but it’s about a meaningful integration. So let’s talk about how other people do it, what’s involved, what are some tips that you can take away and start to implement right away.
To start us off, let’s define work-life integration. A definition that I found online is that it is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life,’ which include work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health,” which really ties in nicely with what my coaching is all about. It’s about integrating all these different aspects of your life and coaching on that so that you get to a nice healthy balance, so you get to a place where all aspects of your life are coming together as a meaningful whole.
And who doesn’t want that? Beside being caregivers at work, you are moms and daughters and spouses and are responsible for the lion’s share of the work. In fact, women are often asked to do more simply because they are women and it’s really important to learn to manage the demands that are placed upon you and the things that you say yes to and take on because otherwise, you can easily burn out.
And so today we’re to talk about how to really manage all of these demands so that you can live that more integrated life.
So the first thing that I want to share with you is how to really be purposeful with your resources. What I mean here is that you have limited time, which is your most important resource. And when you are in the office, when you are doing your work, you need to be really mindful about how you spend your time and the more time you have left over, the more time you will have for your personal business outside of work.
Let’s take a specific example of this. I recently came across an article written by a primary care physician by the name of Erin McAdams and she talks about four things that you need to keep in mind when you say “yes” to something and take something on.
So the first thing she mentions is if that item is an area in which you are skilled. And that makes sense, right? You want to engage more with your strengths. And so if somebody offers you to do something, to take something new on, if it’s an area where you are strong and you are skilled in, it makes more sense to say yes to that sort of thing as opposed to something that you’re not very skilled in. So that could be one filter that you use to say yes or no to a request.
The second thing she mentions is when the activity would be rejuvenating. So are there things that when you do them you absolutely love them? It fills you with a sense of purpose or meaning or it energizes you, whereas other activities that you engage in are draining? You don’t enjoy them very much. That is a clear distinction about when to say yes or no to something.
The third criteria is if it’s something that moves you closer to your long-term goal. So obviously you need to have goals in order to be able to meet this criteria. But assuming that you do, think about how this moves you forward, helps you to get a little bit closer to where you want to be long-term. And if it’s completely unrelated to your goals, then that could be another filter that allows you to say no.
And lastly, we have if it is the best use of your resources. One of the things that I like to share with my clients is that when you are faced with a menu of options there are so many different things that are vying for your time and attention, you have to ask yourself the question, “Am I the best person to do this job?” Or another question you can ask yourself is, “Is this the best use of my time?” In other words, if I were to spend my time on this, I am not able to spend my time on something else. And so the thing that I spend my time on, the thing that I focus on should be the thing that is the best thing for me to focus on.
So these are some criteria for you to consider to just take some stuff off your plate and to make sure that the things that you do focus on are meaningful.
Another thing she talks about is just how to create more time for yourself. One of the things that women in medicine often struggle with is that they have to take work home. They work all day. Then they come home and they’ve got all of their home life responsibilities and then on top of that they’re still trying to catch up on their charting. And so Erin McAdams gives some other criteria about how you can create this flow during your work hours in order to minimize charting at home.
And here again she’s got three criteria. So the first is to do some pre-charting for clinic encounters. So think about how you can pave the path for yourself. Before you start to see a patient, what can you do ahead of time?
The second thing she talks about is to close the chart before seeing the next patient and I would add to that another way to do it is to batch your notes after, let’s say, seeing three patients. So a lot of times what people do is they’ll see patient after patient after patient and they’re left at the end of the day with a whole number of notes that they have to catch up on. What I am recommending for you to do instead and what Erin is also saying here is try to fit it in after each visit. Don’t leave it until the end of the day where you now have run out of time and you need to go home and do some more work. What you want to do is to have a clean break where you finish all your work and you leave it at the office. Then you can come home and have an opportunity to recover. Because it’s when we don’t recover at the end of our work day that we can burn out.
Lastly she talks about how between visits you can have some minutes for paperwork and that can include reviewing prescription refills, releasing normal results to patients or other providers who are on vacation, and even calling a patient about abnormal results which takes a little bit longer. So depending on how long you have, you might have a running list of all the things that you need to get to when you have those little moments and then you start crossing them off your list. The more organized you are, the more mindful you are of your time, the more you’ll be able to get done.
And I want to leave you with this quote from Dr. Erin McAdams and she says, “This requires mental energy to actively manage tasks throughout the day but, the added value is invaluable” and I think that is so true and so very important when you’re thinking about how to really make the most of your time and your energy.
So we talked about how to be purposeful with your resources. We also talked about how to focus on things that bring you joy, that you’re passionate about. And lastly I want you to think about how to focus on activities that integrate both mind and body. For example, yoga. The reason that I think this is so important is because it brings you into alignment and from that place you will be on top of your game to be able to show up for your responsibilities, your family, and for yourself.
Remember, it’s always about finding that integration, that way of balancing all the things that you have going on for yourself. Not sacrificing your health in order to get more work done. Not sacrificing your sleep in order to catch up on your notes. It’s about working smarter.
So I hope that there are some tips that you can take away from today’s episode and actually start to implement in your work day so you end up having more time for yourself and start to enjoy yourself more at work. Have a wonderful rest of your week and I’ll talk to you next time.
Thanks for listening to the Women in Medicine Badass Radio Show. If you loved what you heard, join my tribe to thrive. It’s a free community where you’ll receive daily tips and weekly trainings to optimize your life. Go to drsharongrossman.com to sign up. I’ll see you on the inside.