Results, incoming telephone calls, scripts to sign, screen messages, electronic tasks, supporting clinical staff, scanned mail, interruptions from reception, paper inbox… Let alone a new patient every 10 minutes….
Now add… email, online news, text messages, app notifications, eConsultations. Twitter is now a useful source of news and opinion. GP only groups such as Resilient GP and Tiko’s GP Group have even made facebook a (several times) daily work related destination for many GPs….
No wonder I find it so hard to stay on top of everything.
There is such pressure facing the modern GP to stay on top of multiple work streams. To be responsive. To stay connected. To be up to date with the latest news and developments. It can sometimes feel like we are drowning in work and information.
We know that if we just had some time and energy we could improve our practice systems. We could find better, smarter ways to work. But, life is just too busy. There are too many plates to keep spinning.
This week I stumbled across a useful concept which resonated with my feelings of information and action overload. Cal Newport is an academic Computer Scientist and writes about the impact of technology and how to learn successfully. I listened to a fascinating interview with Cal on James Altucher’s podcast.
Cal describes two types of work:
- Deep Work: Activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push cognitive capabilities to their limit. Deep work is rewarding, generates real value and multiplies the return on invested time.
- Shallow Work: Non-cognitively demanding repetitive tasks often performed while distracted. Shallow work is procrastination at worst and fighting fires at best and generaly mundane.
“Shallow work stops you getting fired. Deep work gets you promoted” – Cal Newport
Do you remember that essay you left until the last minute and the intense rush to complete it? The grade was as good, if not better than the essay you spent much more time on. How did that happen?
You did deep work and focussed hard. You were selective about sources, prioritised and worked efficiently.
High quality work produced = (time spent) x (intensity of focus)
We need to tame shallow work. We need to do more deep work… This much is obvious… But how?