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I Don’t Have Enough Time

May 20, 2024

Dr. B was sharing with me how she felt immense pressure on a given clinic day. She is an established internal medicine physician and typically sees 25-30 patients a day. She did not finish her notes consistently on the same day.

“I feel like I don’t have enough time when I start my day,” Dr. B said. “I am in a constant rush, trying to race through one patient and then the next. My mind is running a mile a minute.”

Does this sound familiar to you? When you see your patient schedule, do you feel like you do not have enough time to see them and take care of them?

That used to be me. I saw my schedule and I dreaded. Another day of racing against the clock and doing my best to take care of the patients. Something got to give, and that something was to sacrifice my own time – to delay writing the patient notes.

That was also kind of the approach that Dr. B chose. When we met, she had over one hundred patient charts left over from the previous month to complete.

When you believe that you do not have enough time to do what you are supposed to do, how do you feel? It is natural to feel inadequate, frustrated and angry. You may feel defeated even before you start your day. You may also experience some other unpleasant emotions. When you are feeling these emotions, how do you act? For Dr. B, it was a race against time. She felt rushed and seeing the patients became a burden. Sub-consciously, she was more focused on how she did not have enough time rather than to fully engage in the patient encounter. She was adding the burden of spending time she did not believe she had in the exam room. The result was that she did the essential work to take care of the patients and she was not able to complete all her patient charts the same day. She was going home late, exhausted and wiped out.

Is it possible to have a different outcome? Is it possible to feel differently?

Everyone has 24 hours. How is it that someone owns several hundred companies and still makes time for the family while someone else is barely surviving with one job?

The long answer is a complicated one and we may explore that another time. Time, since we all have the same amount of it every day - the difference is how we think of time.

Instead of thinking that you do not have enough time, what if you think that there is enough time in the day to see the patients and take good care of them? I am not saying to believe that you have time to do everything you plan on your to-do list. Many of us pile on many tasks and sneak in more tasks to do in a day, to the point that we plan to have more than 24 hours’ worth of work.

I encouraged Dr. B to be open-minded to believe that there is enough time for her to see the patients and take care of them the best that she can. We also discussed that some patients will take more time because their medical conditions are more complicated. We also discussed that taking care of the patients included adequate and informative documentation – not perfect notes, just good enough documentation. She can always “steal” some time from the more straight-forward appointments. She adopted the belief. A week later, she shared with me that she kept telling herself that she had enough time to take care of the patients and took into account of different patients had different needs. She did not feel rushed. She was mindful of the clock. She felt more confident and she was more efficient. She was able to finish her clinical day of 25 patients with their charts completed in the same day.

By believing that she had enough time to take care of her patients, Dr. B was not feeling rushed. She was paying attention of the time and was able to connect with her patients more. At the end of the day, she felt accomplished.

The first step to manage your time is to examine what your relationship with time is. When you think that there is not enough time, you are going to have feelings related to lacking or inadequacy. You will end up not having enough time, for example, to see your patients, do your charts and returning phone calls. When you believe that you have enough time, without questioning the “how”, you are going to have feelings related to adequacy or abundance. You are going to feel more confident in yourself. Your mind will be open to finding evidence to support your belief in having enough time. Your actions will also support that. The result is that you are not rushed and yet you accomplish more.

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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