Tag Archives: Getting Things Done

The Bliss of Zero

The clock hit 7pm. My thumb off the deadman switch on the dictaphone. The glow of the reading room workstation monitors reflected off my glasses. I squinted. A click of the mouse. A curious pause.

And then there it was. I saw…

Nothing. A worklist with zero unread exam.

Inbox zero, Epic Radiant variant.

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3 Ways To Build Better To-Do Lists (3 of 3)

This is a continuation of a thread of posts (part 1, part 2).

3.  Put the whole project on a list and off your mind, or don’t use one at all.

Computers are simple creations.  Despite dramatic advances in artificial intelligence – and the ensuing debate on what constitutes “intelligence” – our multi-core, multi-gigahertz processing machines touting terabytes of storage can’t make a decision that it wasn’t programmed to do.  Continue reading

3 Ways To Build Better To-Do Lists (2 of 3)

This post is part of a series (part 1 | part 2 | part 3)

2. if something needs to be done at a certain time, make it a calendar event, not a TODO ITEM.

Computer are actually incapable of recognizing time. When you tell the computer to “wait 1 second,” it actually converts 1 second to the number of CPU cycles to wait before executing your code.  This means that if another program suddenly tries to execute high priority code right before your timer is up, the CPU will go run their code and leave your program hanging to dry.   Continue reading

3 Ways To Build Better To-Do Lists

This prolific (and also very nice) guy wrote extensively about the importance of checklists in medicine, and how we need more of them. If you work in healthcare and are now accustomed to doing “timeouts” you have this man to thank.  Some people say checklists make medicine sound like a cookbook, making doctors work like computer software following instructions.   Continue reading

Getting past that gotta-get-this-done-but-too-busy-right-now feeling

In the state of Pennsylvania you need a special permit to practice medicine outside of the supervision of an attending physician, called the unrestricted license.  For most residents, this is not a requirement – your training license allows you to train, and your unrestricted license allows you to practice, well, without restriction (really, it’s not that complicated).  Usually this means moonlighting.

Moonlighting is actually a glorious thing for a resident.  You get hands-on experience for problem solving, and the extra income goes a long way to supplement rent, food, and student loans for an in-training doctor. Continue reading

Closing the loop of communication

One of the best advices a mentor gave me during school was to close communication loops as quickly as I can.  In a world when constant information flow can occur on cell phones and a variety of social media, even a one-day wait for an email reply can seem archaic.

This idea is not new, though.  A basic recommendation written in Getting Things Done by David Allen is triaging your email inbox – if you can answer an email in two minutes or less, then go ahead and do it; if not, leave in your inbox.  He also recommends cleaning out your inbox daily (using the Archive feature in Gmail, for example).

The need to close the communication loop is formally required in many organizations such as the military and in medicine.  For example, critical medical findings on x-ray cannot just be communicated to the doctor or nurse; they must be accompanied by an acknowledgment, which typically involves a read-back.

In online communication by email, texting, or social media, there are three major categories of responses in practice: (1) reply to resolve the request, (2) contacting someone else to gather information before resolving the request, or (3) diverting the request to someone else who will resolve it.

What is sometimes forgotten is that we own the communication even after we did the right thing by gathering additional information or forwarding the original email to someone else – categories (2) or (3).  In other words, the original sender is unaware of the actions taken and is still waiting for our reply.  In the end, an additional 10 seconds of our time taken to close the loop with the original sender by a quick “I will forward this email to the John” (or by simply cc’ing the sender in our actions) can significantly increase our rapport with them.