Nurse Practitioners and other clinicians are busy people – you practice, have a family, are back in school for yet another degree and even have a life. When you become a business owner, it’s magnified several times over.
Being able to get things done is essential. There are courses, books and tools available on the market about time management. In truth…we cannot manage time…we can only manage ourselves.
Here are 10 tips that if appropriate to you situation, will have you manage yourself and thus get more done in less time and ultimately, have more time for life.
1. Turn off the email. The plain and simple truth is that email is distracting. Productivity experts all agree that checking email should be delegated to specific times during the day and no more. I have found that if I do some work before looking at email, I can get more done. If there is truly an emergency that needs to be responded to, someone will contact you.
2. Along these same lines, turn off the notification from chat, IM and social media. Do you really need to know about the level in Candy Crush that your friends have just hit?
3. Batch your activities. If possible try to batch all your activities. In the clinic that may mean responding to phone calls all at once, refilling medications at a certain time, etc. If possible, arrange your schedule in the same manner. You’ll find that once you are in the groove, your activities will often go faster and smoother.
4. Train your staff. It’s really important that your support staff know and understand what you are trying to do and why. Encourage them to increased productivity with these tips as well.
5. Use tools that that will provide short cuts such as Short Keys (PC) or TypeIt4Me (Mac). It’s a macro program that allows you to choose a code, which you type and it’s replaced by the words, phrases, paragraphs and exams that you routinely use. For example, I have my standard brief exam that when keyed in shows up in 3 characters. I can then tweak the exam to reflect the person I am seeing, but I don’t have to rewrite the entire exam. Saves a ton of time. You can use this anywhere you would be adding text such as a word doc, your EMR, email, etc. Of course, if you have templates that you have customized to you, use them as well.
6. Train your patients and clients. Let them know how to best make use of the time they have with you so they can get more out of the visit as well.
7. Schedule time each day to give yourself a quick recharge, and each week for a full recharge of your batteries. It will help prevent burnout and is essential for your physical and mental health.
8. Multi-task. While many are saying multi-tasking is a myth and is not productive, I’m not convinced this is true in every situation. One suggestion is to consider listening to your continuing clinical and business education while you are cooking, cleaning, gardening and exercising. MP3 players or your smart phones make this quite possible.
9. Use a timer as I am as I write this. This self management technique is not used enough. Something happens in our brains when we know we have just x minutes to complete a project. Think back to the last time you had to get your desk cleared before leaving for vacation? What seemed impossible got done.
10. Long winded patients? Use a timer in the exam room. I started doing this, particularly on very busy days. It kept the patients and I focused on the task at hand. The patients loved it because they know I don’t like to keep them or others waiting.
11. Use apps that help you with coding. There are medical apps that can helps with all sorts of things these days, from medication to coding. It’s critical that you code the visits as soon as you can and using a tool that can help you quickly and correctly identify diagnostic codes and CPT codes is priceless. You’ll also want to make sure your biller is giving you a superbill that is tweaked to you and your practice.
Okay, so that was 11 tips. But I know there are hundreds more. I invite you to share you tip below.
Barbara C. Phillips, NP, FAANP is a professional speaker, author, clinician and business owner who provides business education, resources and support to Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and other Advance Practice Clinicians — both for the employed and self-employed clinician. Additional information about Ms. Phillips is available at www.BarbaraCPhillips.com.