Amy's blog about training

Don't Chase Cows, Instead Build Fences

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 @ 11:16 AM

fenceWhen the farmer was advised to build a fence in order to reduce the time he wasted chasing cows and focus on his business of farming, he replied “I don’t have time to build a fence, I’m too busy chasing the cows.” [This might be a Minnesota quote, cut us some slack, we're from the Midwest]

Call Scheduler wants to ensure that your investment in physician scheduling software is helping you to do your best work. One area where we noticed clients having issues was keeping a handle on calendar maintenance and requests, while still turning out the next physician schedule on time.

Taking the time to “build a fence” so you don’t have to spend the day “chasing cows” seems like such an obvious solution, but when we’re head-down in the details, it’s hard to have enough mental space to see the big picture. Where is that “low hanging fruit” to save time so you can plan and build that fence? And how does Perfection play a role*? 

How to Build the Fence

  1. Go in reasonable increments. It’s natural to want to get immediate, deadline-driven tasks squared away and off your mental to-do list, i.e. One Click and Done! Rather than All or Nothing, implement a physician on-call scheduling strategy that will incrementally move you in the right direction but doesn’t require much effort. Features that are easily used for this are Provider Requests, the Call Scheduler App, vacation limits, basic rules, etc.
  2. Go for Automation and beware the Perfect Schedule. The Perfect Schedule can be a double-edged sword. Having high standards and being very conscientious can help avoid errors, but what is “Good Enough?’
  3. Prioritize Call Importance. The least and most difficult On Call assignments must be determined. Then automate the most difficult On Call Assignments first as much as possible.
  4. Determine Limits. Of those important Calls, what is the maximum per date-range and how should they be distributed to be considered “fair?”
  5. Use Rules Judiciously. Great for even distribution of weekend call assignments, Spacing Rules prohibit providers from being assigned call too closely together during the week or cross weekends. We don’t have a limit on how many rules you can create (one client has 180!) And remember a simple Template may do the trick… such as Rolling Weekends.
  6. Allow yourself time. Unfamiliar but important tasks often have a learning curve that makes them feel more clumsy than efficient. Be sure to “clear the decks” and allow yourself time, even when that seems excessive, to learn and practice something new.

Rules for the “Perfectionist”

    1. Good enough is usually better than Perfect. You want to make the absolute best choice but doing so when it isn’t strictly necessary can lead to decision paralysis. Is the Big Picture “happy?”
    2. Let go of Sunk Time “costs” Having spent so much time and emotional investment makes it hard for a Perfectionist to step back and take the long view of what is most important. Doing it the old way to produce perfect results with recursive never-final tweaks may be counterproductive.
    3. The need to feel absolutely ready before trying it out. Perfectionists may feel unprepared before taking the plunge, even though they really “have it.” Start early, find a practice space and do some test drives! See rule #1.

Overthinking: A certain amount of “What if?” is certainly needed. However, overthinking about odd situations that failed in the past, or anxiety about remotely possible future situations that might occur can also result in analysis paralysis.