Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Martha Kenney who is a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist, clinical researcher, and productivity coach. Dr. Kenney shares her top tips for tackling time management as a medical student and physician.
Values, Habits, and Systems (VHS) approach
To be truly productive, begin with examining your values. Determine what is important so that you can choose what to spend time on. Values are your principles that will influence your repeated behavior. Engage in actions that will help you get closer to your goal. Regular action will eventually turn into habits. Once you have formed habits, you can make use of systems and tools to make compliance easier. Always start with what you value, so you can make clear decisions that will bring you closer to success.
Tackling Time Management
The basic tools that everyone needs to have are a calendar, a project management system, and a focus tracker. A calendar is not just for events. You can use it to plan ahead and block out time for your work schedule. The project management system is your to-do list. For Dr. Kenney, she has a results list instead, which is a list of the deliverables she wants to accomplish for a given time.
The focus tracker is a tool that helps you concentrate. The pomodoro timer is a popular focus tracker wherein you allot 25 minutes for work, which is then followed by a 5 minute break. You can change the time intervals to best suit your style. Don’t be afraid to experiment with techniques and tools to find what works for you.
How to be Productive as a Clinician
During your clinical years, you have a rigid schedule. It’s most beneficial to study during your peak hours of focus and energy. Plan your study hours when you are most concentrated. But if you can’t, it’s still a good idea to use whatever time you have to get things done. Avoid having an all-or-nothing mentality. Make good use of time, even if it’s just a short interval, otherwise it will be challenging to make progress.