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Aspirations for an Ideal Future in Medicine: Prioritizing, Timelining, and Calendaring

This month, we are continuing to walk through the basics to move toward your ideal practice of medicine. Last month, I walked you through the steps to envision what you want. Last week, we learned the step of changing obstacles into strategies. This week, we are moving forward with prioritizing, timelining, and calendaring.


Refer to your work from last week.


You likely have several steps for each category: logistical, skill gaps, and connection barriers.


The next step is prioritizing.


Think through an order that makes sense. There is usually a natural order within each category – logically, one thing must come before another. Such as, before applying for an MBA, you must research programs.


Sometimes, one category takes priority over another, such as outreach to build your patient panel (connection) likely takes place after you have signed a contract (logistics). But more often than not, the categories will be interlaced.


You can use the Einstein Matrix to prioritize based on urgency and importance. (Keep in mind that our brains often confuse "urgent" with important.) 


For the items on the list that you're not sure of the "right" order, you can ask, google, research, or decide and assign it. Ensure you don't let the illusion of always a "right" way keep you from progress.


Some things will likely take longer; you can decide to overlap some. Such as, your research about various practice settings in the area you are looking at working may take a few months, AND you can schedule and attend your ASCCP course.


With your list of small actions prioritized, the next step you want to look at is timelining.


Next to each step, estimate the amount of time it will take. If you are a "time-optimist" like my new friend Amy, you may want to add in a little buffer time. Each step can take minutes to months.


Once the amount of time is listed, you will want to pull out your calendar. You're looking for two major periods.

  1. The time you want to have completed the steps.


For example, if you are a graduating resident and want to start your new position on September 1, is that the date you want to have completed the steps by, or do you want to complete them by June 30 or sometime else?


  1. Any time-sensitive action items.


For example, that ASCCP course may only be offered once or twice a year. How does that affect the order or shift your timeline?


The last step for this portion is calendaring. Place each item on your calendar, starting with your target date and working backward. If the last item takes you two weeks, you list it two weeks before your target completion date (or earlier for a buffer). The next to last thing may only take you 2 hours. You can list it the day before that, etc.


This system requires you to keep your appointment (promise) to yourself. Treat it like your own doctor's appointment - if it's on the calendar, you do it. As you discover new information, you can permit yourself to alter the plan and the timeline.


Next week, we will walk through implementation strategies, a couple of frameworks, and how to handle setbacks.


Until then, have a joy-filled week! Tonya

Join me in my Weekend Reads for Sunday's Story with Sides of resources, fun, coaching, and reflections


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