Whenever I want to improve the quality of my work, my first urge is doing more:
- Read more journals!
- Attend more conference!
- Write more case reports!
If you really want to improve in your field, you have to the opposite. Doing less is often more. So stop doing the wrong things, so you can focus on the important tasks.
You need a stop-doing-list: So what should be on it?
1. Stop regurgitating information.
Sometimes I have the feeling we are talking 80% of the time about what we are planning to do and why, instead of just doing it.
Does it really make sense to discuss a patient with the colleague from the previous shift, with your boss, another consulting doctor and the radiologist? Remember, nothing gets done by talking.
2. Stop talking:
Easy on the smalltalk: I know, I know, keep the atmosphere nice, having a chat with the patients and the nurses is important. But I only use it as a time-filler, when I have to spend time with the patient. (during procedures etc). But besides that, I focus on the job.
3. Stop over-documenting:
Document only relevant things. The little amount of time left over after talking about our patients and what we are going to do with them is easily consumed by our legal obligation to document.
This was well meant, but as Tucholsky said: well meant is the opposite of well-done. So keep it focused, short and simple.
4. Stop letting others interrupt you:
Easier said than done. Of course you have to answer the phone. But many times I’ll ask: „What’s up, this an emergency? I’m in the middle of something”
At least the caller gets to the point right away. Many times they don’t call me again. Also, keep your door closed. Leaving your door open is like begging to be interrupted.
5. Stop confusing „chaos” with pseudo-emergencies (which will again cause interruptions):
Better organization, preparation and pro-active thinking would have prevented most of them:
- Patient goes to angiogram and has no IV-Line.
- Patient about to get a pacemaker but written informed consent is missing.
By the way, I’m not opposed to working hard and much. We just have to spend our time with things that are useful and avoid ineffective working habits.