4 Simple Steps for Creating a Better Work-Life Balance
by Natasha Mohr
Finding a work-life balance has been a challenge for ages. And chances are good you’ve heard the basics: get good sleep; hire a reliable staff; exercise and maintain a healthy diet; say “no.”
These are all important. But sometimes, you just need a little something “other” that tips the scales a little bit further in your favor. We spoke with Drs. Suneel Chilukuri, Joe Niamtu, Kevin Smith and Joel Schlessinger for their tips – so read on!
Step 1: Define the goal. What does ‘balance’ mean for you?
Remember that you can’t have it all – at least not all at once. Choices and sacrifices must be made. Make the ones that allow you to sleep well at the end of the day, and those that will bring joy to you and your loved ones while moving you toward your end goal.
Once you have identified your priorities, dedicate your time first to those things. It’s the theory of the big rocks: if you fill your bucket with sand and tiny pebbles, you won’t have room for the big, beautiful rocks.
One way Dr. Joel Schlessinger, Omaha, NE, has done this is by eliminating the ‘bucket list.’ “While many people have a bucket list, I try to avoid it by doing things when I think of them. A recent trip to Bhutan is one of my bucket list things that I decided to do instead of considering it for years. I used to wait and pencil things in but now my idea is that a bucket list should be empty if at all possible. On the other hand, going to the moon may have to wait a bit!”
Step 2: Ask yourself where you can be more efficient
As the saying goes, “There is always room for improvement.” Below are some suggestions for improving your efficiency to make more time to dedicate to what matters to you.
In the office:
Dr. Joe Niamtu, Richmond, VA, nails it when he says, “Balance is important and a single doctor can only do so much. Working too much while building a practice is sometimes required, but you have to know when to cut back. If you find yourself overworked, it is important to consider several things that can make you more efficient.” He also offers the following for consideration:
- Consider hiring a physician extender to your practice. NPs and PAs can generate as much as a full time doc and they get paid less.
- Consider adding a partner.
- Decrease your work week. Many doctors can be equally productive in 4 days as they are in 5 if scheduled correctly.
- Quit doing procedures that are not remunerative.
- Charge a consult fee for cosmetic procedures. This eliminates “tire kickers.”
- Increase your fees. It sounds counterintuitive, but patients will pay for quality. Work less, earn more.
Dr. Suneel Chilukuri explains how this works in an important part of his morning routine. “I always schedule in 1 to 1.5 hours for exercise. Most often I work out in the early morning by myself without a trainer. I find this time to be useful for brainstorming, organizing my thoughts and planning my day. It is also the only time I do not pick up the phone, check texts or answer emails.”
Another way to overlap: introduce your loved ones to activities you enjoy. You get to do something you enjoy, they get to learn something new and you get to spend time together – a win-win-win!
A very simple example of this is shared by Dr. Kevin Smith, Niagara Falls, Canada, who goes “for a nice, long walk with my spouse every day, ideally in the morning.”
Step 3: Carve out small spaces.
- Get chores out of the way during the week to keep your weekends free.
- Practice good communication. Being on the same page as the important people in your life will not only improve your relationship, but will increase efficiency! Fewer dropped balls and double-bookings are good for everyone.
- Free time does not equal available time. Doing ‘nothing’ can be very rewarding.
- Schedule enjoyable, recurring social activities. A book club, a monthly friends’ dinner or a quarterly golf outing. Planning fun activates will force you to take a break.
Identify singular actions you can take throughout the day to give yourself a chance to breathe. Close your office door for 15 minutes. Sit alone on your porch for 10 minutes before going to bed or when you wake up. Listen to your favorite song in the middle of the afternoon when you need a pick-me-up. Call a loved one just for a quick ‘hello.’ Slow down for just a few minutes – these small actions scattered throughout the day can have a big impact!
Step 4: Ask the hard question.
Are there areas of your life in which you need to make wider-reaching changes? We need to be honest with ourselves about our choices. We may be the cause of why things are off-balance.
- Spend time only with people that bring good things into your life.
- Limit time-wasting activities.
- Release any feelings of fear of judgement or of not being good enough.
- Learn to trust. Sometimes our need to control and manage – or micromanage – erodes our confidence in ourselves and in others.
- Respect boundaries – yours as well as others.
Balance looks different for each of us, but with these 4 simple steps, a healthier work-life balance is just around the corner!