The Schedule Hack

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Nurses Edition Commentary

Mizuho Spangler, DO, Kathy Garvin, RN, and Lisa Chavez, RN

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Katherine B. -

I really appreciate and enjoy these segments, but I have to disagree about making a paper schedule and pulling out colored pencils and then taking a photo. The ease of google calendar + tasks + reminders, can consolidate and better achieve "the schedule hack".

Rob O -

Hey KB! So interesting you say that. Dike and I had a long conversation about that very thing after the recording. I was a bit perplexed by the inefficiency of using paper, pencils, taking a picture, etc., but there is a benefit in the ritual of going through the process and being deliberate about making certain plans in analog. Also, many have not adopted electronic/cloud based calendars as their primary scheduling modality. That being said, I am using google calendar exactly as you say and feel like I'd have a mess on my hands if I broke out the colored pencils. Thanks for writing in.

Katherine B. -

Thanks for the quick response. I have read quite a bit in the productivity literature, and the greatest benefit for physically writing out plans has often been cited surrounding goals. For example, mapping out goals which includes breaking them into concrete steps and questions or when initially brainstorming. Personally in practice, that means I do some paperwork, and then those can be broken into tasks which I often place within my tasks. I am just surprised there is a large enough population of users which would not be using this modality to partially justify the method. There was a lot of great content in that episode, so thanks again.

Sherry Y. -

Some Real Life Schedule Hacks for the ED the ED MD

1. Use iCal on your phone (or the equivalent on anything other than apple). It is surprisingly easy to use and has the added benefit of being compatible with multiple other programs as you will see below.

2. Certain ER schedule programs are now compatible with iCal. So with a click of a button you can download your work schedule into your calendar. I currently use a great program called ShiftGen. Now this is an important step. Make sure you can share your calendar with your significant other. This may require he/she download it directly from the website or you can share your iCal with him/her. This will allow both you and your significant other (and potentially your kids, depending on their ages) to see when you will be at work, thus avoiding things overbooking events/kid activities/date nights/dinners/lunches and the list goes on. You can also share this calendar with other individuals who may be involved in child care. Most ER MD's know their schedules far enough in advance that evenings out and getaways can be planned around your schedule.

3. REMEMBER your ANNIVERSARY, special Birthdays, and Holidays. Your scheduler will not give you those days off, unless you request it prior scheduling deadlines. That means prioritize yourself and your loved ones. Request days off for dates that are important to you. If it is helpful put these dates into your iCal and set them for yearly repeats. Prior to turning in your requests, make certain to go through every day on your iCal to ensure these dates are noted. This also includes vacations. This also works well in ER's with some diversity ie. different religious backgrounds where not everyone celebrates Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanza etc. Try not to wait to the last minute to enter in requests as often that is when you forget to include important dates.

If possible try to give your family 1 reliable day off from the ED. Whether that is a Tuesday or a Sunday doesn't matter. What matters is knowing that you can count on having that day off every week. It allows you to re-set mentally, re-set with your family and provide some reliability to your loved ones. I have found that this also allows me to create "me" time, as referenced by the speaker.

4. Children. sigh. This is a moving target, as most parents are well aware. Every stage has it's own idiosyncrasies. While I would delve into each stage, this forum is limited. In general, I think here is the one place where iCal and paper/white board/chalk board work best together in whatever combination works for you. iCal is great for an overall view, but sometimes can be overwhelming with multiple children's schedules. So, for the day to day pick up/drop off stuff I suggest a routine (as best as you can) with dates such as - no school, conferences, field trips, early pick up in the iCal. Then a physical calendar to jot down who/when/where pick-ups will be for the that week, as well as after school activities and, if you are feeling especially adventurous, some meal planning . I find that doing this (for the following week) on Friday or Saturday (depending on my work schedule) is better than Sunday night. This allows you to make schedule changes for you or your children with a few day buffer. This calendar can then be put up on the fridge/home office etc. Somewhere where all parties involved can visualize.

5. Build a relationship with your co-workers. everyone needs to manipulate their schedule some time. it is better to be "owed a favor" and have a good working relationship with your peers, so when the time comes, and you need a last minute switch to participate in a lunch or child activity or last minute vacation, someone will help out.

6. Lastly COMMUNICATION is key. Talk, rather TEXT (if you don't have time to talk), with the people who are involved in making your family work! Your significant other, your parents, your in-laws, your childcare providers, your nannies, your teachers. Everyone! This can be a group effort when both parents work. Try to make sure you stay in the loop. Even if it is just to schedule a Date Night:) And remember we all went into Emergency Medicine because we didn't want our home life ruled by a pager and being on call. So make your time at home and out of the ER count!!

I think this program might consider talking about why our schedules are still so haphazard. Other specialties also require 24 hour care 7 days a week with more consideration into a regular schedule. Doesn't anyone think that may be contributing to our Burn Out Rate compared with other specialties?? Would love to hear more input from others about this.

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