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How to Stop Mindless Browsing as Physicians

May 09, 2024

Dr. AA and I are friends. She recently joined my 1:1 Coaching Program to work on time management, increasing efficiency and productivity at work. As an internist, she sees 25-30 patients a day. She does not finish all her charts in the same day. In our first coaching session, Dr. AA shared with me that she had around forty outstanding patient charts to complete.

We explored what her typical work day looks like. Dr. AA is diligent and she has a servant’s heart. She is always ready to give her best to take care of her patients. She does her best to keep seeing her patients as close to their appointment times as possible. The natural thing for her to do is to postpone completing her charts until later.

After she sees her last patient of the day, Dr. AA gets a chance to sit down. Facing the number of charts she has to complete, the billing, the phone calls and other administrative work, she decides to take a break. Taking a break means browsing on the internet for Dr. AA. Before she realizes what she is doing, she has spent two hours on the internet watching cat videos.

The undisciplined mind can be a dangerous weapon. After a day of hard work that is both physical and emotionally demanding, it is very tempting to seek immediate gratification. One of the most common ways physicians do that is to browse on the internet. You do not necessarily have a particular thing to look up. You are most likely not browsing to increase your medical knowledge as a means to relax. You probably enjoy looking at websites or videos which are entertaining in your eyes. You want to stop thinking about how much work you are supposed to do, especially when that work is draining. The colorful images, the funny skits, the silly tricks – all up as your potential “watch list”.

For Dr. AA, mindless browsing easily costs her 2 hours of a day. Imagine if she uses those 2 hours differently. Imagine if she is using even half of that time to finish her clinical work.

Are you allowing yourself to mindlessly surf on the internet? Or are you checking emails as they arrive in your inbox? Theses activities are tempting because they provide you with the immediate satisfaction of your curiosity. You can use these activities as an excuse to avoid doing the work that you are not keen on doing. Those websites or email messages also provide you with some degree of entertainment or relaxation.

However, without setting a time limit for yourself, it is easy for you to keep browsing on. In the end, you will feel guilty because your work is not completed. You wasted your time in things which are not constructive for your business or personal growth.

This is not to say that it is time to ban yourself from browsing the internet or checking the social media. The simple solution, not necessarily an easy one, is to be intentional about what you are doing and when you are doing them.

When you are at work, remind yourself to stay focused and keep your concentration on patient-related tasks. This is likely something you remind yourself throughout the day.

When you start your day, remind yourself what your goal is for the day. For example, you want to take good care of your patients and finish your work at a decent hour – it is best to specify about what time you want to be finished with your work. That way, your brain has a more specific direction to go to.

There are things you can do to minimize distractions. Whenever you want to do something else, other than taking biological breaks or scheduled breaks to recharge, remind yourself what your main goal is, and ask yourself if browsing or checking on social media is going to interrupt your goal.

Create time blocks in your day – assign scheduled times for breaks. You will have a chance to recharge your mind to better focus on the tasks at hand.

Turn off notifications – turn off the email notifications so you will not be tempted to see who sent you an email as it arrives in your inbox.

If you really enjoy browsing the internet, schedule a time to do it, and give yourself a time limit.

As you are keeping your goal in mind, taking care of your patients, writing their charts, completing your administrative duties, you also remind yourself to minimize any distractions which may interrupt your flow. Mindless browsing can be managed with a disciplined mind with intention.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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