Run On Time

Yeah right.

No, seriously.  One of my New Year’s resolutions is to run on time in the office, as much as it is in my power to do so.  I read a really good book over the holiday:  No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs:  The Ultimate No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Guide to Time Productivity and Sanity.  The book is even better than the title 🙂  Dan Kennedy is one of my favorite authors.  I’m trying to use some of the tips from his book to help improve my time management skills which my husband will tell you are sketchy at the best of times.

So today (Saturday) I ended office hours over an hour late.  Sigh.

I’m trying.  Here’s what have I done so far to improve my on-time arrival percentage for any given appointment:

  • When I am NOT on call and rounding at the hospital before office hours, I have committed to start each half-day on time.  That means coat and purse put away, stethoscope around my neck, computer booted up and ready to go.  (Pssst.  Anybody looking to get in and out of the office quickly, book with me, early in the morning or right after lunch, when I’m not on call.  Don’t tell anybody, it’s a secret…)
  • I have lengthened the time of some of my appointments from 10 to 20 minutes.  This is definitely a work in progress!
  • I am limiting my same-day work-ins somewhat.  Each day I look at what’s already scheduled and pick 5-8 slots for same-day double-books.  Again, this is a work in progress because, especially right now, we are extremely busy with sick folks.  Flu, sinus, stomach bugs, you name it, we’re seeing it.
  • I am giving myself permission to practice a time-honored time-management strategy:  Just Say NO!  I can only do what I can do, and there’s only so much of me to go around.  When I reach the pre-set number of same-day work-ins, that’s it.  Any time I give to a same-day double-book, I’m taking away from someone else’s follow-up appointment or making the next person wait.
  • I am taking small amounts of time (3-4 minutes tops) twice in each half-day to check for urgent messages.  Otherwise I ignore them unless somebody puts something under my nose.  The other messages wait until the end of the day.  Likewise lab results, X-ray and test results, correspondence, etc.  I’m learning that batching my tasks (like doing all the labs at once, all the X-rays at once, all the phone calls at once) is much more efficient.

I would love it if anybody has any suggestions how I can run on time more reliably.  I HATE running late.  It’s disrespectful of other people’s time.  It makes me look sloppy and disorganized.

That having been said, I have very little ultimate control over whether I run on time in the real world.  For a meeting (or appointment) to start on time BOTH parties must arrive on time, and patients are regularly late for appointments.  Patients are sometimes sicker than we anticipate, and figuring out what’s wrong takes longer than the time slot.  I’m also one of those people who has a hard time getting up and walking out when somebody is in tears, so I usually spend more time listening.  (Blame my mom, she taught me listening is almost always much more important than talking.)

When I’m on call ALL bets are off.  No matter how early I get out of the house it seems I never can get done rounding and to the office on time if I have more than 3 patients in there!  Call creates havoc with my office rhythm too.  Pages from the hospital, calls from nurse practitioners about patients that might need to be hospitalized, lots of stuff happens that I can’t control.

So in spite of my very good efforts and intentions, just in case I run late for our next appointment, let me just get this out of the way:  “I’m really sorry I’ve kept you waiting.  What can I do for you today?”

PS – check out Dan Kennedy on Kindle or at your local bookstore.  He’s awesome 🙂


One thought on “Run On Time

  1. Dr. Jen,
    You are doing a great job….you practice personal medicine..which means you give every person the time they need…Everytime I see you in the office, the attention that you give me, makes me feel like I am your only patient. I don’t mind waiting, you are well worth it…Thank you.

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