Hello colleagues. You look stressed. Your blood shot eyes have little golden crusty particles stuck in them. Oy. And your face has taken on a sickly grey hue. Have you missed me my pasty, swollen friend? Of course not. You are too busy with EHR, surgery, robots, family, research, horse meat chatter, papal scandals, Twitter, Facebook and emails. Relax my people! Have you not read any of the latest research on productivity?
It is clear – my hard working friend – that you are not resting enough. A multitude of bio-shrinko-sociologic studies have proven as much. Did you read Tony Schwartz’s New York Times essay entitled: “Relax, You will be more Productive”. In it we learn that you can only work effectively for 90 minute intervals. In fact there is a biologic basis for this assertion. Borrowing from sleep cycle experts and psychologists who have studied successful athletes, musicians, and artists it is a biologic factoid that we can only concentrate in 90 minute packages. That is all you need to know. Start compressing your operative cases to 90 minutes! Never mind that 90 minutes would only incorporate the bladder removal portion of your operation. We can do the nodes and reconstruction after my jog and light lunch of spinach tofu salad.
Want some more advice from the productivity experts? Of course you do. I am here to solve your problems today. Perhaps you have missed the latest and greatest TED talks on “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”. Spend some time listening to this profound man – a Mr. Ted Allen. Find him here on YouTube. Let me paraphrase his advice: create a project list of everything that has a defined beginning and end in your life. Everything. Go ahead start writing it all down people. You need to look and update your lists every week. You need to sort, prioritize, collate, and make a master list that is all encompassing. You can not? Why? Because you are a surgeon and lead a life of uncertainty. Weak brother. Weak.
Fine. Let me suggest another tact: Get your pens out please. Read this essay by a famous oncologist Dr. Stephanie J. Lee entitled “Tips for Success As an Academic Clinical Investigator” published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology this past month. Ooh how the urotwitterati loved this essay. For days the reviews were glowing. And she does have some great words in this essay (chronophage is the best). To be clear there are 43 tips! Thankfully the last one is “Have fun!”. The others have a more pedantic and ridiculous tone – like “surround yourself with people of high standards, skills, work habits, and compatibility”. This amounts to making sure you work with eHarmony.com compatible co-workers – it’s a must for academic success but sadly impossible to implement. Other gems: “work many hours” (check!), “work efficiently” (uhhh I have residents), “think deeply and clearly”, “make a to-do list”, and “study others you admire”. The productivity list reads like a moral sermon from a high school teacher only less helpful.
Have I depressed you enough? I hope not. I want you angry. Very angy. Why? You must not have read the article by Nakamura et al “Prognostic Value of Depression, Anxiety, and Anger in Hospitalized CAD Patients for Predicting Adverse Cardiac Outcomes” in this week’s American Journal of Cardiology. You see anger my obese, stressed-out urology friend PREVENTS adverse cardiovascular outcomes (hazard ratio 0.34, p <0.01). So perk up my friends! Get angry – it’s good for you.
Benjamin Davies is Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh; Program Director, Urologic Oncology Fellowship and Chief, Division of Urology Shadyside Hospital. His views are his own. @daviesbj
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