How Do You Value Your Time?May 24, 2022
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”
Fact: No one will value your time as much as you do.
Time is undoubtedly our most valuable and limited resource. Every day, so many people and things vie for our time. Our families, friends, patients, hospital administrators, and pharmaceutical representatives are just a few of the people that compete for our attention. Many of us also try to sneak some time for ourselves. Then, of course, there is paying bills, household chores, exercise, side gigs, and the list goes on and on. As our responsibilities grow, the number of people and things contending for our time increases exponentially. And, if you are anything like me, so does the overwhelm that comes with it. Many physicians wonder how they can reclaim their time. The answer is simple: You just do.
I realize that is an oversimplification. If we could just reclaim our time, we would. So why don’t we? The reason we do (or don't do) anything is to either feel a feeling or to avoid a feeling. The Motivational Triad dictates that we are focused on seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and doing both as efficiently as possible. Many of us don’t reclaim our time because we fear feeling selfish, self-centered, or egotistical for prioritizing ourselves, and our time, over others. So we people please, then complain that we don’t have enough time.
This was most evident for me when meeting with pharmaceutical representatives. My clinic had an open-door policy. I did not accept food or coffee, but I did receive drug samples for my patients. So when a drug rep showed up at my clinic unannounced, I would halt my day to chit-chat for 10 minutes when I should have been seeing patients or writing notes. I feared they might judge me for just taking their samples and not being cordial and friendly while listening to their spiel. I also feared my patients would not get the drug samples they needed if I stopped meeting with the reps. I would fake smile while making small talk about my family and the weather. All the while, my next patient awaited my arrival to begin their visit. I endured the conversation out of obligation while simultaneously resenting the interruption. Don’t get me wrong, I have interacted with some incredibly kind and gracious pharmaceutical representatives, but I never felt that they thoroughly valued my time. They didn’t see that their presence was an interruption. Those unplanned 10 minutes prolonged my workday and prevented me from leaving work on time.
All I can say to that realization is: Duh. Of course, they didn’t value my time as much as I did. It is not their job to value my time. It is their job to sell. So whose job is it to value my time? Another duh. It is mine.
This may sound harsh towards pharmaceutical representatives, but that is not the intention. It is just one example of an interruption that decreases my efficiency during a busy day. There are other days when an administrator adds an unscheduled meeting to my calendar. Still other days, a patient might spend 20 minutes chatting about the weather, then, just as I am about to walk out of the room, mentions that she has been having fevers with night sweats and a 20-pound weight loss over the last two months. How can I be efficient when people don’t respect my time? Again, it is not their job to respect my time; it is mine.
So we have gotten to the heart of the matter. I need to respect and value my time. Could it really be that simple? It can be, but first, you need to understand why you aren’t currently valuing your time.
In coaching, we often ask questions to uncover what keeps us from doing the things we want to do. If you find that you are having difficulty prioritizing your time, start by asking yourself some questions:
- What do I think will happen if I say no to that meeting or redirect a conversation to maximize efficiency?
- If I say no to something or cut a conversation short, what will I make it mean about me?
- Am I more concerned about what others think about me than what I think about myself?
- What comes up when I think about only allowing myself to do the things I genuinely want to do?
- What do I think about other people when I feel rushed or unheard? How would I feel if someone felt that way about me?
- Can I see a way to ensure that someone feels heard while remaining aligned with placing a high value on my time?
The magic of coaching is being curious without being judgmental. It can shed a lot of light on why we do the things we do. For many physicians, we spend so much time worrying about what other people will think about us that we lose sight of what we think of ourselves. So when push comes to shove, we prioritize the patient/administrator/drug rep in front of us rather than what we want and need. Answering these questions is such important work.
Time management can feel super tricky as a physician. You want your patients to feel heard, but you are also mindful that other patients and your family are waiting for you. You also know that innumerable people are looking for your input and expertise. Ultimately you get to decide which people and activities are worthy of your time.
When my clinic went virtual in March 2020, the pharmaceutical representatives disappeared. As I delved into physician coaching, I decided that the time I was regifted would remain mine even after the clinics opened back up. I had thought that if I didn’t meet with the reps, my patients would no longer receive samples, but that didn’t happen. In fact, nothing happened. I regained 20-30 minutes of my day to do my patient care-related work, saved myself some unnecessary chit-chat, and got a little closer to getting home on time after a long day at work.
Time is our most valuable resource, but our thoughts about other people, their expectations, and our desire not to disappoint can get in the way of our ability to protect our time. By examining our thoughts and being intentional with our day, we can get closer to living a life most aligned with our priorities, and that is the number one key to living a better physician life.
Are you intentional with your time? How do you align your time with your priorities and goals? How do you value your time?
Are you interested in creating more balance in your life? I want to invite you to check out my FREE TRAINING. Click here to get: How Busy Physicians Can Stop Trying To Escape Medicine And Start Living Their Best Life Today.
This training will teach you the five essential techniques physicians need to stop feeling stuck, burned out, and trapped in medicine. You will also learn how to stop racing toward retirement and start using tools that empower you to practice medicine your way.
PS. I get a lot of inspiration from music lyrics. Many people use inspiring quotes (and I do, too), but music really speaks to me. I hope you find inspiration in the songs too.
Kris Allen - Live Like We’re Dying
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