Saturday Morning Rounds May 30, 2020 - Where does your time REALLY go?

Posted by BossB, MD on May 30, 2020
BossB, MD

What we're reading

Productivity Skills to Help You Gain Time Back

We don't have to tell you that time is the scarcest of all our resources - being a woman physician is a masterclass in time scarcity and time management.

We also aren't here to give you more pithy "productivity-hacking" tips - the internet is full of those and if you really want our takes on which ones are actually useful, email us and we'd be happy to share some of our favorites.

What we do want to point out, however - and what this article does a great job of highlighting - is that not all tasks are created equal, and that we all should have SOME kind of system for determining which ones get (a) the best of our hours and (b) the most of our hours.

This article has a great graphic that offers such a system by breaking down tasks by their respective hourly values, going from $10/hr-$10,000/hr:

Now it's almost certain that your most important tasks are not the same as the ones in this graphic, so in our "tip of the week" section today, we'll give you some tools to recreate something like this for yourself that actually reflects your goals, values, and priorities.

Who we're following

America is hurting. And this particular pain is one that stems from a cancer that's been in our system since the founding of this nation - racial inequity.

When it comes to healing hurt, increasing empathy, cultivating a sense of shared humanity, and enhancing our understanding of the interplay between race and medicine - or even just race and everyday life - Dr. Kimberly D. Manning, MD (@gradydoctor) is by far our favorite follow on Twitter.


If you don't already read damn near everything she writes, you should. Here are a couple of recent examples as to why:

BBMD tip of the week

As we mentioned above, your most important (ie $1,000/hr and $10,000/hr) tasks are probably not the same as the sales & marketing tasks highlighted in this video.

Matter of fact, they probably fall into a number of different buckets, each replete with their own vast array of sub-buckets. So we're not going to try and give specific advice on how to maximize your effectiveness in any particular bucket - we're going to give you a tool to use on all of them to ensure that how your time gets spent aligns with your values, goals, and priorities.

And that simple, handy, and in our experience unbelievably impactful tool is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix:

The core of this system's usefulness comes from the observation that urgent tasks tend to get the lion's share of our time because they make the most attentional "noise."
But most urgent tasks aren't actually important. And most important tasks are not at all urgent. And as a rule, almost all of us spend way too much time on urgent, non-important tasks, and way too little time on non-urgent, important tasks.
Sounds pithy and simple, yes - but that's exactly what makes it so useful for quick decision-making. If you want to combine it with the dollars per hour concept from today's reading and do a time/value alignment exercise, we recommend you block off 30-60 min and conduct the following steps:
  • List no more than 5 time buckets (ie self, family, work, volunteer efforts, friends)
    • Order them in terms of priority
  • Now create no more than 5 sub-buckets (or task types) for each of those original 5
    • These task types should be a blend of which ones you spend the most time on and which are most important (even if you don't spend time on them yet)
    • Assign each task type a dollar per hour value
    • Assign each task type a quadrant in the Eisenhower decision matrix
  • Then, track your time in 15min increments for a week
    • Many ways to do this but the easiest in our experience is to list all the tasks on paper or a note-taking app, set a silent alarm to vibrate every 15min as a reminder, and then just use tally marks to track the 15min increments spent
    • Compare how your time is actually spent with what the dollar values and importance levels you assigned the respective tasks at the beginning of the week

We've never had a client actually do this exercise without having some foundation-shifting realizations about where their time goes. Those realizations almost always result in monumentally positive changes.

We do this practice ourselves AT LEAST once a year and it's always incredibly illuminating.

Even if you're not ready to hop into this now, or if your current time expenditures look so different from your baseline that it doesn't seem worthwhile, we can't recommend strongly enough that you come back to this when you have a relatively "typical" week lined up and give it a try.

Quote we're contemplating

 "What gets measured, gets managed" - Peter Drucker

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PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!