Physician Health

4 physician-recommended steps to work- and home-life balance


Physicians often strive for “work-life balance,” but how do you define it? Getting the time you need may require a different approach. One physician and wellness expert recommends these four self-driven solutions to help you redefine balance and maintain a successful home and work life.

Family physician Sara Taylor, MD, has learned valuable lessons of her own as a mother of two teenaged children, practicing physician, part-time practice owner, blogger and wife of a fellow physician. When she’s not balancing this full roster, she writes about physician wellness, personal development and social media.

She recently shared some of her insights in the Winter issue of AMA Alliance Publication Physician Family Magazine. Here are some of the ways she’s learned to sort work-life and home-life into two balanced, productive spheres:

Prioritize what you value, and plan for it 

Early on, Dr. Taylor took a valuable lesson from Stephen Covey’s book First Things First: “My take-away message from this invaluable book is that if we spend more time dealing with things that are important such as planning, preparing and personal development, we spend less time in the ‘crisis/deadline’ mode that lends itself to feeling frenzied and imbalanced,” she wrote.

Dr. Taylor also noted that “Covey cleverly describes urgency addiction as ‘a self-destructive behavior that temporarily fills the void created by unmet needs.’”

Focusing on weekly goals is one way to effectively prioritize. “This does not mean to keep an exhaustive to-do list (like I used to), but rather to write down three ‘must-dos’ each day,” she wrote. “You can either do this for work-life and home-life separately, or as I do, approach it more globally.”

Still give yourself time to “just be” and feel rooted in the moment 

“In the book, An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Dr. Mark Williams and Danny Penman describe our common state of ‘doing mode’ versus ‘being mode,’” Dr. Taylor wrote. Being in a constant state of “‘doing’ ends up depleting us, leading to exhaustion and burnout,” she wrote. “By consciously attending to ‘being,’ or mindfulness, we are more able to give both our body and mind what they need to be nourished.” One tip she recommended: Try meditating to help practice mindfulness and channel a sense of calm.

Learn to say “no” to certain tasks 

“It not only helps us set boundaries but also prevents us from falling prey to other people’s agendas,” Dr. Taylor wrote. She said saying “no” is an essential step to finding balance and ensuring you have time to prioritize your well-being.

Practice self-care, focusing on small actionable steps 

Start by exercising, getting proper sleep and setting digital limits from work or peers, so you can properly rejuvenate, Dr. Taylor said. If you don’t have time for yoga classes or the gym, online exercise classes or instruction can be other options.

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