Anyway...for March, I made a very vague commitment to "recognize what I need and to meet those needs". I was feeling in a bit of a slump at the time, and I couldn't quite figure out what would make me feel better, so my goal was essentially an attempt to identify anything that would make me feel better and do it. After a few days of self reflection, I realized that one of my biggest sources of unhappiness was feeling like I was spending all of my time doing the tedious parts of my job (dictating, editing dictations, reviewing labs) without ever being finished with it. In response to this, I made it my priority to get all the stuff done, and I did. (As I wrote about here).
In getting caught up on my work, and even more so in trying to prevent the work from reaccumulating, I have come to realize that I was making the fatal mistake of letting my work expand to fill the time available to me. I'm usually in clinic only about 50% of the time, leaving me with more than enough time for office work when I'm not on call, and I was allowing the tedious work to unnecessarily fill up all of my non-clinic time. I would come in a bit late, have a nice long coffee break, check Facebook, and do all kinds of things to procrastinate getting the work done because there wasn't a real urgency to doing it. When I had another project to work on, such as a presentation with a firm deadline, then I would get more efficient at the tedious work to make time for the other project, but otherwise I was dawdling. And feeling trapped in paperwork hell.
Forcing myself to finish my tedious work on a daily basis (as much as possible) has made me much more efficient. I come in on time, I minimize non-work activities, and I use even the random five- or ten-minute chunks of available time between events to be productive. There is absolutely no way that I want to stay later than I need to because I've been scrolling through Facebook instead of signing off on dictations. By making much better use of my time, I've finally freed up some of the big chunks of time that I need for bigger projects. Which feels awesome.
So, March goal? Let's call it a success.
April Goal - Eat Food:
A lot of my time with patients is spent counseling them on living a healthy lifestyle. Many of them hope that I hold a magical secret to living better, but in reality, my advice to them is always pretty basic: Get exercise (30 minutes per time, 3-5 times per week). Eat more healthy food (fruits, vegetables, lower-fat dairy, lower-fat meat/meat alternatives, whole-grain products). Eat less unhealthy food (pop, chips, fast food, processed food, sugar). Simple in theory, frustratingly difficult in practice.
After spending my days giving (what I think is) fundamentally sound advice, I unfortunately often go home and sit on my couch eating precisely the things I tell my patients not to. I love pop. And chocolate. And ice cream. And eating out in almost any restaurant, including the greasiest of greasy spoons. I am an extraordinary hypocrite, and I know it's something I need to work on.
About a week ago, my girlfriend and I watched an excellent documentary featuring Michael Pollan, an author who has written books about the problems with the industrial food system and with our current approach to eating healthily. The documentary focuses around Pollan's simple advice on how to eat:
1) No pop. It's something I don't need, and it's one of the worst things I can possibly consume. So for this month (if not longer), I'm done with it.
2) Take one fruit and one vegetable in my lunch every day. It's a small start, but it is at least a start. I bought an assortment of vegetables at the grocery store today, I've cut up a bunch of vegetables to take in my lunches, and I'm ready to be successful at this one.
Now I'm off to Red Lobster for dinner. I wonder if they sell any real food....