COVID-19 is becoming boring

Radical statement. I know it may sound crazy.

We’ve been at the COVID-19 battle for what seems like forever. The fight is not going away for a long time; it’s going to morph into keeping the virus contained while we get the economy back in full gear. Get people back to work and play, kids back to school and reconnect with our family and friends.

So, for many, this becomes yet another component of the daily grind of medicine and another challenge to add to our already full plates.

How you choose to manage the repetitive elements of your practice will make the difference between being energized, fresh and happy, or exhausted and burned out. It’s up to you.

COVID-19 is a catalyst to change what’s not working. Many at the top of their game wonder if this is really all there is. They are still working as hard as ever and tired of seeing the same patient problems, hearing the same questions, doing the same procedures, even though they know they’re helping their patients with significant health issues. It’s hard to admit, but it’s boring!!

Here are three strategies used by physicians successful in getting past burnout to loving life again, especially now when everything is uncertain and crazy.

1. Rediscover your dream

Take a breath and put aside the nagging internal to-do list. Go for a walk, a drive, sit outside in the quiet, get away from the office for a little while. What dream have you squashed for as long as you can remember? Writing a book? Going on a mission trip? Working with a company on a revolutionary product? Research?

Picture what your days would be like with that dream integrated into your already successful lifestyle. Hold on to it and use the next two strategies to make it happen.

Now, look at the flip side, what makes your shoulders hunch because you dread doing them again? Finishing charts, specific procedures that you don’t really need to do, patient teaching, updating med lists? Pay attention to those activities and do one of two things with them:

2. Look at your daily routine through a new lens

Create a spark for yourself that makes the boring routine new and exciting. How can what you do every day prepare you to make your dream a reality? If you’re planning a book, what stories and examples can you draw from the 4th Mr. Smith that you see today with the same questions, the same issues, the same predictable path?

3. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Generously share what’s on your plate. The things that are routine and boring to you are just exactly what someone on your team would love to learn. Teach them! Look for the spark in their eye at learning something new, and even more importantly, in receiving your trust in their abilities. And then trust them and step away.

It’s small shifts that keep our minds and hearts engaged and energized. Drive forward to your dreams.

Karyn P. Grant is president, Karyn P. Grant Consulting.

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