Developing Work-Life Balance as a Doctor
The work that doctors and dentists do can pull you in so many directions at once that it's easy to lose your work-life balance. But if you don't schedule time for yourself away from your practice, you're not just missing out on vacation time -- you could be doing real harm to your career, your relationships, and your Return on Life.
Fortunately, doctors and dentists also have a little more control over their schedules than many other professionals. You might just need to give yourself permission to exercise that control and find a structure that works for you. Try this four-step process to regain and maintain a healthier balance between what you do and who are you.
Your daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities at work. Your kids' soccer games and dance recitals. Weekly date night with your spouse. Half an hour of daily exercise. Personal time to read, reflect, recharge. Learning opportunities that could help you build your own business or develop a specialty. Cooking dinner. Doing the laundry.
Writing down everything that you have to do, everything you should be doing, and everything that you want to do will give you a better perspective on the true scope of your responsibilities and how you've been spending your time. This list will also be a good reminder that there is a lot more to living a full and happy life than how you earn your money.
In the moment, getting called into an unexpected meeting or an opportunity to pick up an extra weekend shift might feel like a top priority. But are those extra hours at work really more important than spending time with your family? Do you need to top off your paycheck? Or do you need to devote more time to your mental, physical, and emotional health? Attending an extra conference this month could help you make some important professional connections. But it could also drag you further behind a personal goal, like training for a half-marathon or donating your time at a local free clinic.
That's why it's so important to rank the things on your to-do list, and not just put all your work tasks first. Yes, many of your 9-to-5 responsibilities should take precedence over some of the things you do in your free time. But once those high-priority work items are crossed off, you might be tempted to tackle low-priority work instead of high-priority personal tasks. Let your priorities list guide you so that the most important tasks from all facets of your life get done before secondary tasks that could throw off your work-life balance again.
You may wear many hats -- doctor, spouse, parent, businessperson, mentor -- but there's still only one you. Take another look at your list of priorities and try to identify tasks that you can delegate to employees, colleagues, or family members. Perhaps your spouse could handle a few extra meals during the week so you have more time to exercise. Is there any paperwork you do by habit that an administrator or resident could handle?
Or, better yet, are there tasks on this list that are no longer necessary and that you can eliminate altogether?
Considering how much you have to do and the limited time you have to do it, you might not get your to-do list and priorities right the first time. Some days, the demands and urgency of certain tasks will overwhelm the rest of your list. Stress at work or at home might cause you to slip into old habits that throw off your priorities. You might gain new responsibilities, and others might fade away.
Remember that an essential part of our planning process is to help you get more from your life than just more money. We can include your priorities in our annual review of your Life-Centered Financial Plan and run some of your essential tasks through our interactive planning tools. Make an appointment and let’s work on finding the balance that will improve your Return on Life in 2024.