How to break the cycle of being busy

interruptionIn a recent opinion piece from Joseph S. Eastern, MD, he reminds us that the time we spend out of the office can be just as vital to our success as time spent in the office. Here he enumerates on the value of stepping out of your normal routine and keeping your mind and your practice fresh.
Few movies have universal appeal these days, but one that comes close is Bill Murray’s 1993 classic, “Groundhog Day,”in which Murray’s character is trapped in a time loop, living the same day over and over until he finally “gets it right.”

One reason that this film resonates with so many, I think, is that we are all, in essence, similarly trapped. Not in a same-day loop, of course; but each week seems eerily similar to the last, as does each month, each year – on and on, ad infinitum. That’s why it is so important, every so often, to step out of the “loop” and reassess the bigger picture.

I write this reminder every couple of years because it’s so easy to lose sight of the overall landscape among the pressures of our daily routines. Sooner or later, no matter how dedicated we are, the grind gets to all of us, leading to fatigue, irritability, and a progressive decline in motivation. And we are too busy to sit down and think about what we might do to break that vicious cycle. This is detrimental to our own well-being, as well as that of our patients.

There are many ways to maintain your intellectual and emotional health, but here’s how I do it: I take individual days off (average of 1 a month) to catch up on journals or taking a CME course; or to try something new – something I’ve been thinking about doing “someday, when there is time” – such as a guitar, bass, or sailing lesson, or a long weekend away with my wife. And we take longer vacations, without fail, each year.

I know how some of you feel about “wasting” a day – or, God forbid, a week. Patients might go elsewhere while you’re gone, and every day the office is idle you “lose money.” That whole paradigm is wrong. You bring in a given amount of revenue per year – more on some days, less on other days, none on weekends and vacations. It all averages out in the end.

Besides, this is much more important than money: This is breaking the routine, clearing the cobwebs, living your life. And trust me, your practice will still be there when you return.

Recently, my wife and I packed our carry-ons and left for a 2-week trip to Antarctica. As we crossed the Drake Passage, and then explored the Antarctic Peninsula’s spectacular glaciers, icebergs, and vast penguin colonies, I didn’t have the time – or the slightest inclination – to worry about the office. But I did accumulate some great ideas – practical, medical, and literary. Original thoughts are hard to chase down during the daily grind, but in a refreshing environment, they will seek you out. When our trip was over, I returned ready to take on the world, and my practice, anew.

More than once I’ve recounted the story of K. Alexander Müller, PhD, and J. Georg Bednorz, PhD, the Swiss Nobel laureates whose superconductivity research ground to a halt in 1986. The harder they pressed, the more elusive progress became. So Dr. Müller decided to take a break to read a new book on ceramics – a subject that had always interested him.

Nothing could have been less relevant to his work, of course; ceramics are among the poorest conductors known. But in that lower-pressure environment, Dr. Müller realized that a unique property of ceramics might apply to their project.

Back in the lab, the team created a ceramic compound that became the first successful “high-temperature” superconductor, which in turn triggered an explosion of research leading to breakthroughs in computing, electricity transmission, magnetically-elevated trains, and many applications yet to be realized.

Sharpening your saw may not change the world, but it will change you. Any nudge out of your comfort zone will give you fresh ideas and help you look at seemingly insoluble problems in completely new ways.

And to those who still can’t bear the thought of taking time off, remember the dying words that no one has spoken, ever: “I wish I had spent more time in my office!”Click here to read the original article from MDEdge

Taking a vacation may be one of the best ways to break the cycle of being busy, but there are certainly others. Here are 4 ways to break free, brought to you by The Muse.
1. Stop Talking About Being Busy

… Instead of telling people that you’re busy, try talking about what you’re actually doing—the accomplishments that are making you feel busy and thus making you feel proud. For example, “I’m doing well! I just got a promotion and it’s given me the opportunity to travel quite a bit more.” …

2. Stop Multi-tasking During Leisure Time

… Make sure to not only carve out time for yourself, but to actually acknowledge that you’re on the “leisure clock.” Don’t multitask—enjoy the downtime, and mentally label it as such.

3. Rethink Your Definition of Self-Care

… In her book Thrive , Arianna Huffington identifies the “Third Metric of success” (i.e., a redefinition of success that goes beyond the two traditional metrics of money and power) and breaks into four components: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. While she begins with well-being, which includes taking care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep and staying healthy, she considers lifelong learning, meditation and mindfulness, and community involvement equally as important in achieving and defining success …

4. Outsource and Delegate More than You Think You Should

… At the end of your day—every day!—write down two things that you did that someone else could have done for you. They might be administrative tasks, housework, or simply to-do items that someone else could have accomplished just as easily. The next day, delegate those items. You may think that you’re a master delegator and that you’re maximizing your productivity every day, but this simple habit will help you measure your delegating skills each and every day.Click here to read the entire article from The Muse