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In a world where everything seemingly moves at the speed of light, it’s easy to become accustomed to the stress of constantly needing to rush.  Nowhere is this truer than the highly demanding field of healthcare. This state of continuously keeping one eye on the clock as you finish one task only to jump right to the next can yield beneficial results in your professional life, but ultimately can have a negative effect on your personal life.  The physician known as “Doc. G.” writes about his experience with this phenomenon in his article A Physician’s Experience with Time Stress.

Professionally

The drive to work quickly can benefit your career if managed correctly.  Any boss will take notice if you always show up early to meetings, are efficient with your time and complete more work in one day than your peers do in a whole week.  Using your innate sense of urgency to achieve your goals in an impressively short amount of time can be a surefire way to climb the corporate latter.   Doc. G attributes a good portion of his success in the workplace to his ability, or rather need, to work efficiently and always keep a swift pace.

The key to success here is to know the difference between working and using your time efficiently and just plain rushing.  If you let the stress inspired by the ticking hands of the clock get the better of you, the quality of your work can suffer. To make matters worse, the quality of your health and well-being can suffer.

Personally

Outside of the workplace, the constant need to rush can put a strain on any personal relationships in your life.  Friends and family are guaranteed to be annoyed if you’re walking out the door before they even stand up from their chair.  Doc. G. details how his daughter and wife are frequently irritated as he is consistently forcing them to match his speed, as opposed to him respecting and adjusting to their pace.  As a result, he has found his relationships with family to be strained on a consistent basis.

Other effects of the constant rushed state is being chronically late. You may try to accomplish so much, so fast that you leave others waiting on you or miss important occasions. The innate sense of urgency can have ugly consequences in our personal life if left unchecked.

Time stress leading to burnout? Check out our white paper on healthcare burnout and how to address the stress.

Options

It can be incredibly difficult to learn how to slow down, especially when most of your day is spent within the fast-paced environment of a hospital or clinic with a never-ending line of patients waiting to be treated and a pile of paperwork and documentation in the EHR to go with each of them.  Luckily there are ways to break the habit.

Both these methods have proven to be helpful for Doc. G. in his struggles with time stress:

  • Take the time to meditate and refocus on what is the most important.
  • Guided visualization can also be an effective way to help you see yourself calmer, take your mind off your growing to do list and gain perspective.

Some other ideas as you wrestle into submission your own internal rushed sense of urgency are…

  • Set reminders on your phone or work calendar to breathe and relax. If you’re continually alerted to take a breath and release some muscle tension, you’ll begin to be more aware of the building stress that your busy schedule can cause.
  • Get away or take a walk every two hours. Your brain is continually taxed at maximum capacity, and rushing makes things worse. Going for a casual stroll for even a few minutes can provide a much-needed reset for your mental clarity and calm.
  • Consciously slow down your rate of everyday common tasks like walking, talking and writing.
  • You might even try something as seemingly simple as breaking your daily routine. Change meeting times or check emails later instead of earlier. Sometimes a shake-up with how you spend your time can recalibrate the set point of your sense of urgency.

The constant rush may feel like the norm, but it’s actually a habit that you’ve formed over time. Like any habit, it can be broken and replaced with a new, healthier way of operating with conscious effort. No matter what method you use to kick your time stress, just make sure that you aren’t too busy focusing on your next patient or task to see the opportunities for happiness right in front of you.

 

 

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