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Work-Life Balance: Three Power Tips

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Here are three quick action steps to help you create more work life balance this week -- field tested and doctor approved.

Work-life balance is key to preventing burnout , but exactly HOW do you create balance in the first place?

I am an executive coach to hundreds of over-stressed physicians. One of the key components to preventing physician burnout is restoring some balance to your life. You must chisel out some space in your weeks for yourself and the important people in your life for one simple reason.

When you are stressed at work, home is where you must be able to recharge.

There has to be some balance, or you will eventually tumble into the downward spiral of burnout.

I know for a fact that doctors don't learn how to create a balanced life at any point in their training. In fact, residency is where we learn to focus 110 percent on work and keep going right through the complete exhaustion of 120-hour weeks.

There are no role models. Faculty members often model just the opposite... the chronically burned out and unbalanced doctor. Fortunately you will see certain older physicians who have this figured out. They have outside interests, seem more relaxed, have great relationships with their significant other... I can tell you many of them went through a burnout crisis a few years back to reach this balanced state.

Bypass the crisis... take the shortcut to work-life balance. Here are three tools I teach my physician coaching clients. Each one is short, simple and proven to work in the real world. They will work for you too.

1) Date Night Secrets

My highest work-life balance recommendation is a date night twice a month without fail. My recommendation holds even if you don't have a significant other -- see (a) below. Use the Schedule HACK Process to make sure you have a date night at a minimum of once a month -- twice is way better.

Here are two date night power tips.

a) Don't Forget to Date Yourself

If you don't have a significant other (or yours is unavailable) take YOURSELF out on a date for gosh sakes. Dinner and a movie, mani/pedi, massage, read a book for pleasure (imagine that!) Just do it... twice a month... together OR alone.

b) The Pay it Forward Rule

Always follow this date night rule: Your date night is not done until you put the next one on everyone's calendar.

Here's why.

I see people try to make date night a habit. They are all excited about the first one -- in many cases it is the first date night in YEARS! -- and the second one never happens. They don't schedule the next date and never find time in their busy week to put it on the calendar. Don't let this happen to you.

At the end of your date (even if it is just you, as above) get out your calendar(s) and schedule the next one... every time. Stick to this rule and you will create the habit.

2) Put Big Rocks in the Bank

If you have a big vacation travel trip on your big rocks list for this year, here is how to make sure it will happen. Don't wait to book it.

- Look out as far as you need to on your calendar
- Pick the dates for your trip
- Book the tickets and pay for them now

If you don't book and pay, you will always find a last minute reason not to go and your trip is in serious jeopardy.

When you book and pay months in advance, I will guarantee you will make that trip.

3) "Scheduled Spontaneity" Pressure Release

Here is something that will stop you from scheduling date nights or time with your kids... not knowing what you are going to do.

- You want to spend time with your son or daughter this week
- There is time available on Thursday evening
- You hesitate to book it on your life calendar because you don't know what you will do with them

Book it anyway and let me show you something that will take the pressure off.

"Scheduled Spontaneity"

Scheduled spontaneity is not an oxymoron. This is when you book out the time with no plans... then when the time comes around you are completely spontaneous. You decide in that moment what you will do.

Let's go further.

Here's an option for you. Let your child decide what you will do. Watch their eyes when they get to take the reins on your time together.

If you are by yourself, make a list of possibilities during the week and pick one when the time comes. Loose your inner bohemian and "eeny meeny miney mo" it. (Have some fun!)

There you go...

Three power tips for more work life balance. Each of these are field tested and doctor approved. I encourage you to take them on as a part of your efforts to create the balance you seek.


How do you create work life balance? What are Your Power Tips?

Dike Drummond, M.D., is a family physician, executive coach and creator of the Burnout Prevention Matrix Report with over 117 ways doctors and healthcare organizations can work together to prevent physician burnout. He provides stress management, burnout prevention and leadership development services to physicians through his website,