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  • ilselarsoncoaching

In-Basket Freedom

I absolutely love celebrating when clients meet their goals.

A few days ago I met with a beloved physician client who succeeded in closing all of her charts by the end of the clinic session for 4 days in a row.

As any physician can attest – this is a BIG deal. Life-changing, as she proclaimed.

The mental weight of unfinished charts had been lifted.

How did she do it?

She decided to believe that it was possible for her to finish her charts before the end of the clinic session.

And then she experimented with these tips - trying one thing, adjusting, trying another – until she found the combination that worked for her.

I’m sharing the same tips with you today, in hopes that you will borrow my client’s belief (it IS POSSIBLE for you to finish YOUR charts by the end of the clinic session!!) and that you’ll experiment to find your combination.

  1. Avoid multi-tasking. The human brain is simply not designed to multi-task. There is great evidence that when you try to multi-task, you are significantly less efficient and more error-prone. Focus on one thing at a time. When you’re charting, focus on charting – and don’t allow yourself the distraction of checking email, scrolling social media, or making your mental grocery list at the same time.

  2. Look at the majority of in-basket items only once. If you don’t have time to deal with the tasks in your in-basket right then, don’t look at them. Untended tasks linger in your brain and take up precious brain space with niggling worry.

  3. Start by starting. When facing a long list of unfinished tasks or open charts, your brain has a tendency to freeze. You think “I’ll never get through all of these” and so you avoid starting. Once you get started, its easier to keep going. So just start, anywhere.

  4. Set small, achievable goals. If you have 47 open charts, set a goal of finishing 4 and then reward yourself by dancing at your desk to a fun song before you do 4 more. Cluster things that you dislike (charting) with things that give you pleasure (music, a cup of tea, a scented candle, or a piece of chocolate).

  5. B- work. This is not the time to aim for perfection. The definition of a good doctor is most definitely not someone who types without a single grammatical error or missed capitalization or someone who replies to each patient message with a multi-paragraph response and linked references. Expect A+ work for things that actually matter in your work, but be very careful not to let that perfectionism spill over into tasks where B- work is just fine.

  6. Delegate when you can. Know your resources and use them. Even if it may take a minute longer now to explain to your staff how you’d like something done, it will save you time in the long run.

  7. Decide to put down the weight. When you are not working on your in-basket, FORGET ABOUT YOUR IN-BASKET. Worrying about it does not help it get done; it only adds to your angst and prevents you from being present in other areas in your life.

What’s holding you back from finishing your charts or clearing out your in-basket? Is it the belief that it will never be possible for you?

I’d love to help you build new beliefs.

Reach out to schedule a free strategy session today. And tell your friends – every physician deserves to put down this weight.




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