I wrote a post this past weekend on doing nothing.
I think it was a successful strategy, albeit unintentional. I arrived fresh on Monday morning intent upon a full detox of my current state of academic and clinical affairs.
It was to start with the inbox. Somehow (well, I know how–too much spam targeting my clinical work, too much spam targeting my research, too many mass emails from my medical center, too many mass emails from my medical school, too many predatory journals, too many published before print journal alerts, and well too many bogus unsubscribe links in the past), it has burgeoned to >3500 emails. Most were read but just had not be disposed of or allocated. In the ensuing 4 days I meticulously cut through these emails. I made choices not to be tied to past opportunities for knowledge or connection and got down to <10 rather efficiently.
In between I had several important meetings which were a good break from the task of purging all of these electronic communications. I also found a few almost missed opportunities and was able to take a break from the inbox to write a grant application due Friday and an abstract due Friday. I finally got around to editing a manuscript sent to me a few weeks ago. I updated my CV as with events/accomplishments I was triggered to remember by some of these emails.
When the inbox was a tamed beast it was time to shed more excess weight from my work life.
Though not really behind, I did not look for an excuse to wait another day to get my billing and coding done (yes, I was trained and educated to be a surgeon and a researcher. no, I did not go to school to become a medical coder. yes, I code and generate a bill for my own notes only to then have a trained coder submit them without ever having to code them for a portion of the fee). The electronic record came after that. Every time a resident gives an order over the telephone it has to be signed later. If it does not get signed, when the chart gets sent to medical records it becomes my job to sign the order. So on top of the discharge summaries, operative notes, etc. that I got of my front burner (yes, undropped bills and unsigned charts don’t really care what else must be done and there’s a stiff penalty looming so yes never on the back burner like say 3500 emails or a manuscript without a hard real deadline) I signed several dozen orders for the likes of “may go to x-ray off telemetry” and “okay to resume diet.”
And finally, even though I decided a few months ago to forego paper subscriptions to journals in so far as possible (mostly for the environmental impact but also to remove the possibility of visual clutter in my office; sadly, with this came a burgeoning of full journal contents in my inbox!) I had a pile about 5 inches high that I tackled. I read a few articles and scanned a few more after looking at each TOC and determining which were worth my time. I then filed some for my endnote library to keep for my future perusal. I have this thing about losing knowledge even if it was not mine in the first place (I think I got it from my immigrant parents). So if it shows up in my mailbox, it will get read lest I miss a chance to learn something I didn’t even know I wanted to learn.
And now, a mere four days after I walked into morbidly obese office situation, I feel cleansed and ready to tackle my real jobs.
I hadn’t planned on hitting the week this way. I did shift around my to do list a bit. I can’t help but wonder if it was the awesomeness of just doing nothing that gave me the pep to get through some of the most onerous stuff I have to do for my work.