A physician’s guide to getting more time with family

Do you ever feel like time is always slipping away? Do you feel like you hardly get time to enjoy the things you love? For example, do you feel like you get enough time in your day to spend with your kids? If your answer is “no,” welcome to the club. You are not alone! I am a physician mom of young kids who used to feel like I never got enough time with my children. Thankfully, I can now say that I have figured out a way to spend more time with them.

Some of the things that have helped me get more time back in my day includes: taking inventory of my time, being ruthless about cutting out things that do not serve my purpose and keeping the things that work for me. It begins with asking myself two simple but powerful questions:

Does this serve me?

Can I delegate it?

As a busy physician mom, my personal goal has been to have more quality time with my kids. About two and a half years ago, I decided to be more intentional about my day-to-day life concerning my kids. I sat down and wrote out a time inventory, consisting of what my average day looked like from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep at night. I was sure to be thorough about the details of my day. I went through the list two times:

The first time around, I went through every detail of my day and asked myself, “Does this serve me?” And if the answer was “no” to something, that said thing was crossed off of the list.

The second time around, I asked myself, “Can I delegate this?” I put a star next to things I could delegate.

From that point forward, things that were crossed off of the list were gone for good or adjusted, such as watching less TV at night or lessening my time on social media. I then focused on the things I could delegate. At home, I delegated responsibilities by getting my husband and extended family more involved whenever possible. I also gave myself permission to hire help to do things around the house through the use of cleaning and laundry services. Depending on finances, getting a virtual assistant or concierge service to run errands can be very helpful. Automation of finances (such as bill payments and retirement account contributions) helps free up time as well.

When it came to my medical career, I wanted a position that gave me more flexibility in my schedule, so I transitioned from being a nephrologist into being a hospitalist, which allowed me two weeks off a month. After becoming a hospitalist, I decided to pursue my dream programs. I focused on programs that had flexibility in monthly and daily schedules. Many hospitalist programs have flexible scheduling during the day (only the individual on call is required to stay until 7 p.m.), which are the programs I gravitated toward. I also chose to work in hospitals with supportive culture from leadership, staff, and great comradery amongst colleagues. Eventually, I decided to do locums only, which has added another layer of (time) flexibility to my life. I can schedule work when there are no conflicts of interest with my responsibilities at home. I also have templates for my notes which helps with charting. One hospital I used to work at had scribes for us, which helped cut down on charting. While at work, I complete difficult tasks first and put in orders while rounding to cut back on the number of pages I get. This helps me stay more focused and efficient without too many distractions.

By taking inventory of my time and asking two powerful questions, I have been able to reclaim my time and redirect it toward spending more quality time with my children. You’re probably reading this and thinking, “Good for you, but what is in it for me?” I believe self-experimentation is the only way you can open up your life to new possibilities. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” Give this approach a try. What do you have to lose?

Nana Korsah is a nephrologist.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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