Professional sports is all about maximizing performance of athletes and teams. Well, what makes a healthcare professional and their team any different? We all are incentivized to maximize our performance, regardless of the application or stage. This article is all about maximizing the finite resource of time and creating a higher standard of care for our patients. 

1. Pre-Game Planning


Every morning, wake up and block out 15 minutes. During these 15 minutes, stop, take a deep breath, go sit at your kitchen table or comfy couch and get out a journal. Complete the following exercise.

Put down the date and time of your entry, then:

1. Write down 3 things that you are thankful for

ex. Your Spouse, the sunshine, the warm cup of coffee next to you, etc. 

2. Write down 3 things that if achieved would make today great

ex. Making it to the gym, drinking only 2 cups of coffee, sending a thoughtful note to someone.

3. Write down in paragraph form a couple things that you'd like to focus on today or items that you think are important to achieve. 


The Takeaway: Completing this exercise will get your mind set on the objectives of the day and provide yourself with a blueprint for a successful day. 


2. Creating a Winning To-Do List - Goal Setting

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Most people will screw this one up because they have a To-Do list with 10 items on it. Believe it or not, the more items you have on your list, the less likely you are to achieve any of them. You ever been to a restaurant with 100 items on the menu? It's the old adage that too many choices confuse people. Do yourself a favor and make it easy to execute your To-Do list by keeping it simple and small and following these two steps: 

1. Make the items on your To-Do list actionable.

This To-Do list should be your guide to playing good offense for the day. These are actionable items that you need to get done. 

Offense examples: Send that thank you note, go deliver the items to your customer, get your cars oil changed. 

By creating and using a simple To-Do list, you give yourself the power to effectively play offense at least 3 times in a day, the rest of which can be filled with playing defense.

2. By playing effective offense, you create time for great defense in your day.

Defense examples: Answering email, answering the phone, process/repetitive oriented tasks. 


The Takeaway: Use To-Do lists! But for goodness sake keep them simple and limit them to 3 items a day. 


3. Crushing Your To-Do List - Goal Achievement 

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This advice comes from a leader in the field of productivity and execution - Tim Ferriss.

Tim advises, when deciding how to tackle your To-Do list, use the following 3 questions to determine which item to tackle first:

1. Which one of these if accomplished would make everything else easier or irrelevant?

2. Which one of these if accomplished would make me feel satisfied with my day if it was the only thing I accomplished? 

3. Which of these if done creates more time for me next week?


The Takeaway: Think of these as your strategy to playing good offense. These are the questions your coach would ask you to help you play offense to your best ability. 



4. Use your Timeouts 

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To continue upon leaning on a sports analogy, why do professional athletes get to use timeouts but professional caregivers don't? That doesn't really make sense does it?

Timeouts are mental and physical breaks during your day to recharge, refocus, and reset.

Examples of Timeouts:

A Lunch where you actually take a lunch and don't work through your lunch or commute during your lunch.

5-minute walk outside.

10-minute break sitting down somewhere and just allowing yourself to exit "the zone" for a brief time. 

The Takeaway: Taking timeouts are an investment in your day. Think of it as taking one step back (a sacrifice of maybe 10 minutes of not working) in order to allow yourself to take 3 steps forward.  



5. Post-game Analysis

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When you settle down for the night, take out your journal or a scratch sheet of paper and write down how your day went. This is a de-brief session from the day's activities. Some good questions to get your pencil moving are:

1. How did today go?

2. What was the best "win" that happened today?

3. What can be improved upon tomorrow?


The Takeaway: It can be tough to get in the habit of journaling in the evening, but trust me when I tell you it is a complete game changer in increasing your effectiveness as a healthcare professional. 


In Conclusion

Try thinking of yourself as a professional athlete today and ask yourself if you are doing the things that allow you to perform at your highest. These 5 tactics are just the beginning of a long list of things you can do to maximize your performance in a given day, but if you can adopt these 5, there is really no limit to the amount of increased output you can produce in your profession. 

Go get 'em!