Physicians work more than most people realize. In fact, the time they spend helping others through their medical practice often leads to serious imbalances in their own lives. While it may be impossible to fully alleviate this difficulty, there are some steps that physicians can take to bring more equilibrium to both their jobs and their personal time.
7 Ways Physicians Can Improve Work-Life Balance
- Learn to delegate – Although it is tempting to do everything oneself, there is only so much any one person can accomplish. When there are people available that can help accomplish a task, utilize them. There may always be too much to get done, but asking for help can minimize the amount of tasks that go unfinished.
- Accept that time is limited – This is a reality that all serious professionals must eventually acknowledge. When working in a field as demanding as that of a physician, some things are going to remain undone. Hobbies and tasks that were possible before may remain permanently in the past, and this is OK. Other tasks and interests can still be visited, it just may take some time for this to happen.
- Understand the limitations of time – Time is a finite resource that must be managed effectively. One cannot create more of it, only increase the efficiency with which the existing time is used.
- Accept the reality of decision making – Making a decision means deciding on one choice while abandoning another. To compound the difficulty, one rarely has all the information necessary to know which choice is the best until after the dust has settled. This is true in life and especially true in the work of a physician.
- Avoid guilt – If a physician is making the decisions that must be made and filling his or her time effectively, feelings of guilt are usually not appropriate. There can be a host of reasons why one feels guilty and not all of them are valid. One cannot change the realities of time and decision making, and should avoid feeling guilty about making the best of a frustrating situation.
- Do not be bullied – Physicians can be prime targets for bullying by over demanding patients and staff if they are not careful. When a physician is doing the best with what he or she has, there may be no more room for extra demands of time and effort. It is OK to push back against unfair demands and to work out more realistic solutions.
- Avoid excessive self-criticism – Sometimes the worst bully is oneself. Having the drive to push through medical school and into the career of a physician is a special thing, but this same drive can turn inwardly destructive once it meets the limitations and realities of everyday practice. Self-criticism is appropriate in small doses, but if it is coming repeatedly and ignoring the facts listed in the steps above, it should be minimized.