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How Medical Clinicians can Stay Better Focused at Work

As a clinician, your workday is chaotic and distractions are everywhere. With 74% of US workers reporting significant distraction at work, it can safely be said that this phenomena is certainly the case for modern doctors, nurses and other clinicians with clinical, administrative and managerial duties.

Combine these duties with the unique pressures of a medical environment and you have the makings of a very distracting workplace. Tapping into time management tips and tricks designed for healthcare professionals is one way to help streamline your day and be more efficient in how you spend your time. For those who simply want to avoid distractions and find ways to concentrate at work, try these focus tips.

Avoid Distracting Technology

While many healthcare environments have strict rules about personal device use while on the clock, work communications can also be a major source of distraction. As a doctor or nurse leading a team, you may get dozens of emails a day, maybe even each hour. Setting aside specific times to answer those emails (rather than every time a notification comes in) means you’ll better manage blocks of “free” time and get more done.

Work Alongside Productive People

While it may be tempting to take a laptop to a private space for note transposing and record keeping, social psychology might change your mind and actually help you be more productive.

The phenomena of being productive while being observed is called the Hawthorne Effect and you can use it to your advantage in healthcare environments. Working in the presence of others provides a way for you to concentrate through a subconscious system of self-accountability making it beneficial to work in public.

Want to enhance the Hawthorne Effect? Try a “work buddy” system where you share a public working space with someone doing the same tasks as you.

Be Healthier and Avoid Excessive Caffeine

A much overlooked focus tip is how we fuel our bodies and minds. The well-documented connection between a night’s sleep and the next day’s focus comes to mind. We must also consider food and drink as a means for us to be more calm and collected throughout the day.

Coffee and caffeinated beverages can be a great boost to focus; consume too much and our brains can go a little haywire. This effect can be made worse by the sugar in many coffee drinks. Consider cutting down on caffeine, as chronic overconsumption can have effects not immediately detectable.

Replace or supplement caffeine usage with other great energy and brain boosters like mushrooms, ginger and blueberries. Or switch to green tea to keep the caffeine and load your brain with healthy plant-based chemicals.

Know Yourself and Take Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive but as a clinician, knowing when you’re overloaded and need to step away is a skill in and of itself. In some cases, no amount of willpower can get you back on track once you’ve lost your ability to focus. This can be hard to admit but the trick here is to avoid punishing yourself for it and understanding that we are all human and that our ability to focus at work is finite. Being more conscientious about what stressors triggers an inability to focus helps you manage them better as a clinician.