To be completely transparent: I’m writing this post as much to serve as a message to myself than a strategy for other healthcare providers…

I just finished a project for a national medical society. I reluctantly agreed to remain on one of its committees because they needed help, but I knew I should say no. I had put much more time and effort that I wanted to do in two previous stints on the committee.

Sure enough, this latest project took me 40 hours to complete last week. I had to stay up until midnight many nights and ask for extensions for some of my other projects. But I refuse to get angry at myself or the society. I’ll just use this huge commitment of time and effort to remind myself of a critical message going forward.

We must learn to say no.

As healthcare providers, we are accustomed to help people whenever we can. We return patient calls quickly, we fill out tons of medical forms and so much more. Occasionally, though, we have to decline when the request is not a good use of our time.

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The easy target for me is a meeting request. As anyone I work with will tell you, I hate meetings and turn them down almost any time I can. In a previous career position, I had to sit through scheduled sports medicine meetings every six weeks. (No, I did not request or plan them.) We had those meetings whether or not we actually had any issues that needed the attention of all 10 or so people involved. One time the only tangible outcome of the meeting was that we decided on the wording at the top of our letterhead. Seriously?
Audience sleeping during presentation
You must look at every request for your time and attention and decide if it is a good idea for you. It could be meetings, committee positions, office lunches with drug reps, and many other activities. And it applies to time commitments in your personal life too.

You aren’t saying no for the sake of being difficult. You want to free yourself from some commitments in order to free up time to be productive in ways that are much more valuable to you.

Use that hour or two to write a blog post or record a video. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish on your website and on social media if you open up a few hours each week.