Hacking a productivity tip into healthcare

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Sitting down at the end of my work day, taking a break from the last of my client-related tasks, I scroll through my emails, following up on one of my many 7-day challenge courses that I periodically enroll in, mostly to help me with being efficient, planned, on target , etc.. in my business as a health advocate.

I came across this perfect summary of why projects don’t get done that I thought was so suitable to why our health-related tasks don’t get done ,that I just had to sit down and share this. 

Big shout out to Atomic’s Andrew and Pete, whom I always love to hear motivating advice from.

They basically summarize (and look them up for sure if you want more specifics) that most people’s to-do lists never get done, because basically each line is a project in and of itself. 

They’re talking about business related items (writing a newsletter, fixing a website, etc.. But isn’t it so true for our health related tasks?  

For example, doesn’t your to-do list say ‘get that imaging test my family dr told me I should have’ or ‘do growth follow-up for Moshe since he’s complaining he’s the shortest boy in his class?’   Been there, done that, have the gray hairs to prove it.   Basically, we look at that list, and we turn around and walk the dog, or have some coffee, or do anything BUT what’s on that list.  Because it’s seriously overwhelming!

But Andrew and Pete suggest something better. 

Three rules:

  1. You must be able to “start and finish the task in one go without doing any pre-tasks or extra thinking”.
  2. It should start with a verb, like create or call.
  3. It must be measurable.

So let’s apply those three rules to my imaginary to-do list (based on actual events with actual people who lived them). 

“Get that imaging test my family dr told me I should have”

So let’s break that down.  What needs to happen for that event to really occur? First, you need to take out the summary letter from your dr and look at the recommendations at the bottom of the page.  There you’ll see, “recommend follow-up heart ultrasound in two months.” 

You see?!  You work is already done.  Now you know that you need to schedule a heart ultrasound for two months from your last visit.

That’s what you write on your to-do list.  Go on to to kupah website, search for ultrasound centers in my area, and call the number that is listed there to make an appt. 

We all know that the whole endeavor will still take you 30 minutes, but at least now it is a defined task that you could put on your calendar that has a chance of being completed before you retire.

Let’s try one more example to see if we can get this right. 

“Do growth follow up for Moshe since he’s complaining he’s the shortest boy in his class”

Okay, for this you need to make a decision about the real goal. Is it that you want to follow up to see if something’s physically up with your 10-year old and you want to check it out? In that case, you’ll be looking for a pediatric endocrinologist [dr of hormones who handles growth issues among others].

OR you’re short, Moshe’s father is short, you know the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and what Moshe needs is more a helpful type of therapy to boost his confidence.   Is he really suffering? Are there other issues in the background?  Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be helpful.  Or is it a confidence issue?  Perhaps horseback riding therapy would be a better choice.

Have a 5-minute thought process and then on your to-do list, write “look up on kupah site for pediatric endocrinologist and make an appointment online” or “write to my facebook group to ask for good private endocrinologist recommendations.”

But, if, after your brief thought process you think therapy is an option, then your to-do list item could say “ask local branch medical secretary how to get horseback riding therapy.”  

Andrew and Pete recommend breaking down tasks into 15 minute segments.  When you are interacting with healthcare bureaucracy, I recommend you allot 30 minutes to a task like the ones we just discussed.

Thanks, Atomic! For the inspiration. 

Did you find this advice useful?! Let me know in the comments section.

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