How we start the day can set the tone for how we function the rest of the day. Here are seven tips for getting started on the right foot.
1. Start “on time.” This has a different meaning for each physician because how early you should get to the office before your first patient depends on the particulars of your practice. If you’ve got a well-trained staff that you’ve worked with for a while, you might be able to roll into the office when that appointment begins (or even 15 minutes into it) and trust that your team will have the patient roomed and ready when you arrive. Other practices may need more prep time. The test is whether you and your staff are ready for that first appointment, and not consistently scrambling.
2. Create a meeting-free, interruption-free zone. Imagine if, in the first moments of the workday, you and your staff didn't gather at the water cooler but instead gave each other some space, no meetings, just uninterrupted time to prepare for the day. Consider giving yourself back this time.
3. Perform an “intellectual mise-on-place.” Chefs have long known the psychological value of reading through a recipe and having all of their ingredients and implements arrayed and ready before they start cooking. Physicians can benefit from this philosophy too, by reading charts and plotting out the day’s scheduled visits ahead of time. It creates a sense of order, calm, and efficiency.
4. Eat a frog. Not literally, of course. This tip comes from an old saying credited to Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”1 In this context it means tackling your most dreaded chore — whether it’s hospital rounds, a difficult phone call, or an electronic health records task — early in the day so the anticipation of it doesn’t wear you down.
5. Plan ahead to enjoy something. The inverse of “eating a frog,” this means putting something on your daily to-do list that you can look forward to throughout the day. It could be a run, dinner with a friend, or anything that keeps you from daily doldrums.
6. Huddle with your staff. This need not be a “meeting” (see No. 2), just a short, stand-up conversation to flag any unique challenges or opportunities in the day’s schedule.
7. Start the night before. It’s not always possible to finish all the work in a day, but making sure that charts are at least caught up before you come in the next day can make the morning much easier.
1. Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. Quote Investigator blog. http://bit.ly/1CdDpDo. April 3, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2021.
Read the full FPM article: “How to Start Your Workday.”
Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights," featuring practical, peer-reviewed advice for improving practice, enhancing the patient experience, and developing a rewarding career.