Physician Successes at Practice Count as Work-Life Balance Wins

November 15, 2011

In the life of a physician, your home to-do list sometimes takes a back seat to work at your practice. And sometimes, that’s OK.

I finally realized why I feel so unproductive. It’s because my to-do list is infinite; it never ends. Over the weekend, I was on call. I was also home alone, my husband having taken the kids to visit family. Those parents out there know the two sides of that coin. On one hand, you want to jump on top of the kitchen counter, yelling “freedom” while pumping your fist in the air. On the other hand, you want to race out of bed in the morning and do all the things around the house that only take a fraction of the time with no kids “helping.”

I had several major goals. I wanted to paint the bathroom and the living room. The new curtains in our bedroom still needed to be hung. The refrigerator has not been cleaned in at least eight months - possibly longer - and I know for a fact that there was farm-share produce in there that was rotting away. Oh, plus, I needed to do my regular Saturday clean up and all the laundry. No sweat, I thought, I have all weekend.

As my husband reminded me more than once, there was no way I was going to be able to get everything done. He was right. On Sunday, one of my patients went into labor, so I spent a long time at the hospital pushing with her. I also had a more-than-typical number of patients to round on, only remembering once I was there that the new computer ordering system had gone “live.”

Needless to say, I barely finished the bathroom and was madly drilling holes into my bedroom wall for the curtain rod as my husband pulled into the garage. Greeting him in the garage, I felt defeated. I hadn’t touched the living room, there was still a mountain of laundry on my bed, and only the first three shelves of the refrigerator were clean.

Then, in a moment of clarity, I realized how foolish I am. I delivered a baby today! Even though it’s a common occurrence for me, it’s still an amazing event and one to be celebrated. If my to-do list mentality is so severe that I still feel unproductive on a day when I helped usher a new little person into this world, then there is something seriously wrong with my mentality.

So, today (and hopefully tomorrow and the next), I am doing a serious edit on my to-do list. I won’t do everything. I’ll pick one or three or five things to do. If I finish those, I will just be … finished, not looking for other things to pile on. Wish me luck.

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