Improve your work life balance: A schedule hack for doctors

Improve your work life balance: A schedule hack for doctors

In this article I will show you a push button shortcut you can use to quickly create more work-life balance, no matter how busy your practice and your life feels at the moment.

When it comes to creating balance between your medical career and your life, there is a simple rule in play. The strongest structure wins. When we are talking about how you spend your time, that structure is your calendar or schedule.

Most busy doctors carry just one calendar/schedule with them at all times. Usually that calendar only has your work and call schedule on it. If that is true for you, work wins. Your life will continue to be out of balance until you create a structure to defend your life priorities.

Reality check: Take a look right now on your phone or in your briefcase or purse. What calendar are you carrying? Does your life outside of medicine appear on your calendar? Let’s fix that.

The key to creating balance is to have your life calendar with you at all times as well. Now most doctors are hesitant to put everything on one calendar or learn a new phone app or computer program to set this up. Let me show you a schedule hack that takes just a single push of a button you already know how to use.

If you are like most doctors, you actually do have a life calendar. It is often a print calendar that hangs on the refrigerator at home. It is where your children’s schedules and your vacations are recorded. Here’s how to perform the hack and the magic word it allow you to say.

Set a regular time to update that calendar with everyone’s schedule – your children, your spouse and your life schedule. Put everything on it.

  • Date nights with your significant other
  • Alone time with your kids
  • Your workouts
  • Vacations
  • Time blocked off for schedule spontaneity

If you want to have something in your life, put it on this calendar.

Make sure it is accurate from today to about two months in the future and update it a minimum of twice a month. You don’t have to learn any new technology. You may want to use several different pen colors for the different activities.

Ready for the hack? Take your cell phone out and snap a picture of the latest calendar. Presto. Now you have your life calendar with you at all times. You can pinch that photo to enlarge any given day and see exactly what is on your life schedule.

Get ready for some balance because here’s where the magic comes in.

The next time you are in the office and someone says, “Hey, can you take call next Thursday night?”. You can say, “Hang on a second”, pull out your cell phone and check your schedule. If you have something already scheduled, you can look that person in the eye and say in full integrity, “I am so sorry, I have a prior engagement. I won’t be able to help out.”

Without your life calendar, you are very likely to say “yes” to that request because your programming will tell you that you have nothing else better to do. With your calendar right there in your phone, you have the ability to perform the single most important life balancing activity – the clean and honest use of the word “no.”

Now it’s your turn. I encourage you to take this on in your life.

  • Create your life calendar
  • Update it regularly
  • Put everything on it
  • Carry it with you at all times
  • Practice saying “no” in front of the mirror until you are comfortable
  • Enjoy the balance this creates

Dike Drummond is a family physician and provides burnout prevention and treatment services for healthcare professionals at his site, The Happy MD.

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  • Doctor K Says

    Another way to get “balance” is to not program everything on your Smartphone and twenty other electronic gadgets but wake up one day, go to work, and talk to people all day and don’t schedule to be anywhere at any specific time. Now that’s balance!

    • Dike Drummond MD

      There is no programming here Dr.K … unless you call pushing one button “programming”. Your suggestion sounds great on paper … give it a try and see if it creates the balance you thing it will,

      I think what you are talking about though is regaining a sense of spontaneity, rather that feeling your every minute is scheduled. That is different than looking back on your 2012 and feeling like you created some balance.

      I will tell you this for sure … if you don’t schedule your life … you will just get the leftovers your career/job leaves you. And as a doctor that is often not much. This is the easiest way I have found to help my clients create much more balance WITHOUT having to program anything.

      Dike Drummond MD

  • Lasik

    Too bad that’s hard to do nowadays!

    • Dike Drummond MD

      what’s hard to do @Lasik?

      Dike Drummond MD

      • Lasik

        balancing work and life

        • Dike Drummond MD

          Gotta start somewhere. I am going for a walk this afternoon. You ?


          Dike Drummond MD

          • Lasik

            I’m reorganizing/digitalizing my papers…

  • Lawrence Roy Dultz

    with all due respect, Dr Drummond, I could take you more seriously were it not for the link to your website where it appears you are a for profit guru to us unhappy doctors.

    • Robert Luedecke

      I am impressed with his suggestions and he did not ask me for any money before I read them. This helps me and I do not have a problem with him making money to help others. Isn’t that what all doctors do?

      • Lawrence Roy Dultz

        that we do, sir. At a discounted rate depending on the contractual allowance (if we are in private practice) whereas Dr Drummond can count on full billed charges. I don’t have a problem with his business model and fulfilling what I am sure is an ever growing need given the morass of medical care in this country and its effect on its providers. I just don’t think a post on this forum should quickly link to a for profit website by the author. I could link my response to the next listing I put on Ebay, but I don’t think it’s appropriate, do you?

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