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Three Time Management Strategies to move from Chaos to Control for Woman Physicians

boundaries change coaching healthandwellbeing self-care timemanagement womanphysician womenphysicians worklifebalance Jan 06, 2023

Chaotic, unpredictable, and exhausting - this tends to be what a typical day for us as women physicians is like. Daily time for ourselves, or even having a meal without working, is impossible due to ever-changing work demands. Lately, I have been asking myself, how can I move from chaos to control despite the mayhem? Is it possible?

Time Management Skills for Women Physicians

Our day as female physicians begins in the early morning hours or sometimes in the middle of the night, for those of us who work in acute care. We start our day around 5 or 6 in the morning to get things done in our home life and get to the clinic or hospital in time for our first round of patient care. After our long time of clinical work, we have paperwork, charting, and administrative tasks waiting.

We are not just managing our clinical time, but also leadership roles. We are trying to manage meetings, research projects, and medical education responsibilities. At the end of the day, we may find ourselves responding to our to-do list of phone calls and emails from patients, writing letters, and reviewing results, or imaging studies. 

Once we get home, many of us start our second shift of work time. Running kids, preparing food, groceries, bedtime, the whole lot. Then, after our little people go to bed, most physician women spend 1-2 hours at home catching up on charting and getting ready for the next day.

This actually breaks my heart a bit – the third shift of charting, more work hours. As an anesthesiologist, I don’t experience this as much as doctors of internal medicine. But, as a coach of women physicians, I know the third shift is a real thing.

The truth is that we as women physicians will always face challenges of balancing our professional and personal life in a way that is difficult for others to understand. So how can we have better time management? How can we make sure that despite taking care of everyone else, we take care of ourselves?

Let’s start here: 

Do We Have to Live in Chaos as Women Physicians?

As a woman physician, chaos can become normal. Chaos is a common scenario with a clinical practice and it can feel like we have no control or power to change it. A high-stress level and unrest can actually become comfortable for us. We don’t know how to shift or change the system of chaos, so we just embrace it as the status quo. 

Four Effective Ways to Shift from Chaos to Control

Being a woman in medicine requires a whole lot of persistence, hard work, and dedication, which can often lead to physician burnout. All these negative thoughts and feelings are valid, and if you are a woman physician that struggles with them, I am telling you that moving all this chaos to control is possible with these 3 effective ways:

  1. Prioritize Good Time Management

As a woman physician, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by a long list of tasks that need to be completed. We are used to a work environment that demands us to get things done in a timely manner. With all the work-related madness, it is easy to get lost and not keep tabs on your time. This instance paves the way for work to cross personal time and boundaries. 

One of the most efficient ways that will help move the chaos and take control is to prioritize your time and have a strategic plan. More often than not, most of us women in the medical profession let work demands control our day and we think, “If I get the work done, I will take time for me” which is a COMMON limiting belief. Have you downloaded my FREE time management guide HERE? If not, do so now!  

Guess what? The work is never done! If we want any time for ourselves, we have to get intentional and change our mindset. Time management strategies help when we are overwhelmed. STOP in the moment and use this task list to ask yourself: 

  • What matters most?

The first strategy is to prioritize from the most important to the least, or to what is urgent to not. It is also helpful to establish realistic goals and deadlines with a time limit for yourself and strive to stick to them. Do not be so hard on yourself in meeting deadlines and allow yourself to rest and reflect. Grace sister, grace!

Also, if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, take breaks and practice self-care. Taking time for yourself can help to reduce stress and ensure that you can give your best effort to your work. Taking time for yourself can include activities like:

  • taking a walk;
  • reading a book;
  • listening to music or podcast;
  • Meditating, and
  • relaxing and taking a few deep breaths. 

Taking time to focus on yourself and your mental health can help you to be more productive and effective in your work, as well as more emotionally stable and aware. Additionally, it can help you to better manage job stress, which can in turn help you to better manage your work-life balance.

  1. Delegate Responsibilities & ASK FOR HELP!

As a woman physician, I am not only responsible for my patient's needs, but also the needs of my family, and myself. We have to juggle all so many things, it is so overwhelming. Dealing with these can lead most women physicians to get lost in their established boundaries, ending all things mixed up.

I understand that being a physician entails enormous responsibility, and I take that seriously. I understand that my primary concern and responsibility are the health and safety of my patients and providing the best possible care to them. At the same time, I also recognize that I have a duty to my own family. I need to make sure I'm taking care of myself and doing everything I can to be the best mom for my kids. I learned that to be the best mom, is to be a WELL mom and that means focusing on my own well-being. 

(PS: Check out my podcast season on motherhood and medicine HERE)

My advice to you is you do not need to do everything. Speaking from my own experience, I am no superhero. There will be days that it may seem like daily tasks are a lot and I can tell you on these days, I am a master of delegation. 

DELEGATE mamas, delegate!

Delegate ALL non-essential tasks to others and focus on the tasks that are most important to you. This will allow you to focus on your strengths while also allowing someone else to take on a task that they may be better suited for. This can help you reduce your stress and free up more real time for family life. It is also critical to take breaks and make time for yourself. Spending a few minutes each day doing something you enjoy can give you the energy to tackle tasks with greater zeal.

Don’t be afraid to ask for staff support. Delegate tasks to staff members, colleagues, and family members when possible. This will help to free up your time and allow you to focus on the more important tasks and take control of your time and responsibility.

  1. Take Time for Yourself

As a woman physician, it is sooooo easy to forget to take care of your own needs. We are always in the zone of work that dedicating some precious time to ourselves seems impossible. It is, however, necessary to take breaks and do things for ourselves now and then. Taking some time for yourself provides you with a better mental state to take care of others. The best thing, whether it is a personal or work commitment, you can show up as the best version of yourself.

With all the madness and mayhem happening in your workplace, as a woman physician, at the end of the day, we all want something to look forward to coming home. Apart from spending some time with family or friends, dedicating some time to yourself is something that comes in handy to escape from work chaos and finally take control of your life.

  • Start with baby steps: take 30 minutes each day for self-care. This can include anything from reading a book to going for a walk to relaxing in a hot bubble bath at night and doing all the things you want in your alone time. The key to self-care is to do something that makes you feel relaxed, recharged, and happy. Taking care of yourself can help to reduce stress and maintain control in your busy life.  
  • Creating a morning routine that you enjoy can help strike a work-life balance. It is also critical to schedule time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Sometimes, all we need is to make it a point to take breaks throughout the day to do something we enjoy. Do not be afraid to slow down and take breaks because we deserve to have one.

Start to Take Control Now

The possibility of taking control of chaos will only be feasible when you spark to make change happen. Change can be terrifying to some, but just like chaos, there will always be beauty in it. 

I am inviting you to JOIN ME this February in my FREE webinar series, The Best You Yet: Three Myths to Unlearn to Take Back Your Time in 2023. I created this webinar just for women physicians, so we can make the changes we need to take back control – DESPITE the chaos! 

Change is possible, and this will start within you. With change comes clarity and control. WE are going to cover this: 

Webinar 1: “Myth 1: I’m Too Old to Change”

Webinar 2: “Myth 2: I’m Too Comfortable to Change”

Webinar 3: “Myth 3: Can’t Change the System, So Can’t Change My Situation”

Making changes in your life takes courage and strength. It can be difficult to make changes alone, so I am inviting you to join my community as we go through this webinar series! Change can open up new doors, help you grow and learn, and help you become the person you want to be. 

(If you are reading this and you want MORE of this… join my CME class that kicks off March 5! Find out about Brave Balance here, where I have helped hundreds of women physicians move from burnout to thriving). The best way to gain control of our lives is to start with small, actionable steps to improve ourselves: time management, self-confidence, setting firm boundaries, and learning to say no to others while saying yes to ourselves.

Sustaining Work Life Control as a Woman Physician

As a woman physician, I often reflect on how I can manage to sustain control all the time, and here are my ways to do it:

  • Identify your goals and objectives. It will be easier to create a plan for maintaining control once you have a clear understanding of what you are attempting to achieve. Setting boundaries and rules for yourself and others is an important part of maintaining control. You must also be willing to make difficult decisions, such as saying no, when necessary, to stick to your plan.
  • Staying organized by having a MAX of three goals a week. Make sure you're tracking your progress and constantly evaluating your strategies. It is also important to create a timeline for your objectives so that you can determine whether you are on track or not. 
  • Finally, Give yourself grace. You may not always be able to maintain work-life control with daily activities and clinical care and you are going to need massive grace. It is also crucial to remember that work-life control is a process that takes time. 

Aside from these tips, I suggest finding a supportive community and networking in professional societies with other women physicians. Talking to someone faced with the same chaos as you will allow you to gain new insights and provide you with a deep understanding of how to take things in control. 

Chaos can be beautiful but taking control of it is what woman physicians like you and I, ultimately need. 

The Best You Yet: Three Myths to Unlearn to Take Back Your Time in 2023

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