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Three small habits of ultra-productive clinicians

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Clinicians are notoriously time-starved. From the ever-growing patient list to the towering administrative load, clinicians are working harder and longer than ever before. The irrevocable limit here is time, shifting the focus to working smarter, not harder is key...

Top Productivity Tips for Clinicians

Here we have compiled a top three list of small daily shifts you can do right now to save hours a week and improve your overall work-life balance.

Prioritize administrative tasks...

While deadlines associated with patient care are a lot more time-sensitive, notes and paperwork are often viewed as more flexible. Because of this, you are a lot more likely to tackle your administrative work ad hoc, jumping from one task to the next draining mental energy and eating into pyjama time…

Instead, try these effective daily practices:
  • Plan for tomorrow- Before the end of each working day go through your to-do list and prioritize administrative tasks for the upcoming days. Only allow yourself to write down 3-5 things that you want to accomplish each day. Although it will be tempting to write more reframe from overloading yourself, the key is to make the tasks focused, actionable and achievable.

  • Prioritise your to-do list- From the 3-5 items on your to-do list ensure you prioritise the most important or challenging task first. Tackling your most challenging tasks first thing is not just advantageous but, a necessity for a productive day. Knocking out big tasks from your to-do list that you would ordinarily put off sets the tone for the rest of the day, creating momentum that you carry throughout the entire day.

  • Schedule distraction-free time blocks- will discuss the facilitation of this in the next step!

  • Do not jump between tasks- Begin with the first task on your to-do list and do not move on to the next task until the first task is finished. This prevents you from jumping from task to task and wasting mental energy!

  • Review your day- Ensure that at the end of the day or admin session, you review your progress for the day and plan for the next. This will not only help clear a pathway for tomorrow but also make you feel more accomplished.

Prioritise deep work...

Deep work is the ability to devote 60-90 minutes of your time to productive work and not get distracted. As a clinician, deep work can feel like something of a myth, but if mastered correctly can be your superpower...

Studies have shown that every time we get distracted our brain takes on average 22 minutes to refocus. This means that “innocent” email disruptions or a quick text to a family member are all eating into a solid 22 minutes of your deep-thinking time. This has been termed attention residue which implies that your cognitive resources are still in part focused on the previous task, demoting your brain power from the task at hand.

Attention residue impacts a whole range of cognitive functions affecting your efficiency, your listening abilities, increasing your chances of making errors, decision making and ability to process information.

Ironically, so many people struggle with deep work, but the fundamental principle is extremely simple: remove all possible distractions.

Top tips to create a distraction-free environment:
  • Reduce the mental chatter- Keep a notebook next to you and write down any quick thoughts that pop into your head during this time. That way you do not get distracted in the moment, but rather make a note not to forget.

  • Set boundaries with yourself and others- Turn off notifications from your phone. Most phones nowadays have a no-distractions feature in which you can mute notifications of your choice; this is ideal for those that can’t completely turn off their phone.

  • Get all your senses focused- Listen to a playlist that helps you focus or put on noise-cancelling earphones. Noises distract us more than we realise.

  • Minimise internet distractions- Close all internet tabs that may be unrelated or distracting, bonus points if you can turn off email pop-ups!

  • Schedule your disruptive time- This might seem counterproductive but hear me out. Set an allocated time to deal with tasks that are seen as disruptive such as email, that way you won’t get tempted during times of deep work.

Prioritise healthy habits…

If you believe the term “well-being” is reserved only for patients, I have news for you…

As high-performing individuals who make life-and-death decisions daily, it is essential that your well-being is a top priority. Being the most productive version of yourself begins and ends with you. You won’t drive a car with no fuel, so why are you trying to perform on an empty tank? Realistically, prioritising your own health isn’t always that straightforward, an overflowing diary and patient list often means you put yourself on the back burner. Luckily, we have compiled easy-to-implement steps that can make a massive impact on your health.

Top tips on creating healthy habits:
  • Identify what you need- The healthiest version of you is the most productive. I want you to think of yourself as a patient for a moment, assessing your daily life and pinpointing certain areas that you believe could overall improve your health. Improving your general well-being is the ultimate productivity hack and acts as a safeguarding method against workplace burnout.

  • Replace goals with habits- This may go against everything you have ever been taught but replacing lofty health goals with healthy daily habits will give your well-being and productivity the boost it needs. Goals essentially set the direction, but habits make the actual progress. For any goal set, you need to define a habit or daily routine to facilitate the requirements of these goals. For example, if you want to lose 10kg setting a daily routine to facilitate this is by far the most effective strategy.

  • Optimize your environment - At the end of the day self-discipline is great but ensuring your environment is optimised is the ultimate productivity hack! This means making good habits the easiest possible way to perform and bad habits the hardest possible way to access. The more that you shape your environment to support these systems the more goals will effortlessly become achieved. For example, if you want to increase your energy, certain routines such as walking to work and ensuring that you bring healthy food into work could be implemented. Making healthy habits a non-negotiable part of your day will elevate your chances of success.




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