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When is it EVER going to change?

paperwork Aug 18, 2019

Have you ever asked yourself this question when you are rushing home 1.5 hours after the last patient left and you still haven’t finished all your charting or results. You grab a handful of forms to take home with you with the hopeful expectation that you will get them done tonight too. That is - after you have done “enough” to appear to be a present parent and prepared supper and said goodnight to the kids.

You sink into the couch at the end of the household rush with the guilty constant “should be” invading your every breath. I should be finishing my notes, I should go empty that inbox, I should tackle one or two of those forms. But your body feels heavy and your couch entraps you with its soft embrace, you open Facebook and disappear.

Later you plod heavily to bed and allow yourself rest only to wake an hour or so later with another “should”. 

“I’m awake anyway, I should just get those consult notes done or I will never get back to sleep”. You exit the warm bed and the sound of your husband sleeping soundly and wake up your computer.

10 consult notes and 70 results. You get started and despise every minute of your feet getting cold on the study floor and knowing how uncomfortable it is going to be to wake up in the morning and have to get the day going with 2 hours less sleep.

Finally a sense of accomplishment, the consult notes done and the results checked. Many of which you read three times in indecision or because you couldn’t focus, so you closed it and opened then next one planning knowing that you would have to return to this one again later.

You wander back to bed, rewarm your feet and toss and turn back to sleep.


Each day you punish yourself for not keeping up with the work, for getting grouchy with phone requests and patients wanting to be fitted in. You wonder if anyone else gets it. You wonder if anyone is on your side.

The text from your husband at 6pm – “where are you” or “when are you going to be home”. Last patient left at 5pm and you feel like you have been putting out fires and working flat out since then. You have forgotten to text to say when you will be home. You are starting the evening off on the wrong foot again. 

“Can’t you just text me to tell me when you will be home” is his reasonable request. “No” my mind screams, the pile was all consuming and there was no end in sight, in fact I left the pile incomplete and will restart on it at 11pm tonight when you are sleeping soundly. 

Instead I just say “sorry” again for being disrespectful to my family. I try to remember to set an alarm for 5.30pm to tell him I will be home by 6, but I know I won’t be done by then, but at least I will try to be a better spouse by communicating.

Awake at 0630, to hospital for 8am. Clinic 0900-5pm, scheduled 1.5 hour lunch break which is actually squeezed in patients, phone calls, paperwork and crap for lunch at my desk. Paperwork, phone calls, forms, results and charting until 6.30pm. Into bed 9.30pm, Up at 11pm-12.30am to finish charting and notes.

Glass of wine or a gin and tonic as I prepare dinner and again on the couch after supper.

Weekends? Saturday morning or Sunday morning at the clinic for 3-4 hours with more charting, results, paperwork. It’s quiet then, no interruptions. I tell myself it’s helping me get prepared for the week.

I tell myself it’s going to get better, it has to change eventually. I ask senior colleagues how they manage but they admit to working in the evening and on weekends too.


This is not what I signed up for, it feels like it is sucking my life away.

I have no hobbies, no goals and a borderline drinking problem.

Forms sit in my inbox for 6 weeks unattended, often until a patient reminds me that they are waiting on them and I guilt myself into getting them done. It feels like I am tearing myself open to fill that form in, I HATE them, I hate giving my valuable life to forms.


Then one day I was on my way to a medical student orientation weekend. I am a preceptor and had to give a presentation to the students. I wanted to see if I could become a more inspiring presenter and give a fun interactive workshop. I was looking on Spotify for motivational material, a speaker that could give me ideas on how to present.

I had never listened to a podcast before, it was a 5 hour drive. I found a podcast titled “how to feel better” by Brooke Castillo.

Let’s just say I binged on life coaching podcasts for 10 hours that weekend. In fact in the evenings after the conference I went for long drives to keep listening. I couldn’t get enough.

Here was an opportunity to actually take action and change my existence.

I got a life coach and I inspected and scrutinised everything I did. Everything.

I said it was impossible to keep up with your charting, I was wrong.

I said it was impossible to have an evening free of paperwork, I was wrong.

I said it was impossible to exercise, I was wrong.

I said it was impossible to gets forms done the same week I got them, I was wrong

I said it was impossible to know what time I would be finished for the day, I was wrong.

I said it was impossible to have a weekend, I was wrong.

Work could be FUN!

I could see my booked patients and extra’s and still be home on time.

I could leave work with all my charting and results done.

I could stop drinking and not miss it!

I could have fabulous evening meals and great meal time conversations with my family!

I could have a better relationship with my husband!

I could sleep all night and have the energy to exercise in the morning!

I could make goals and take on projects as I had TIME and ENERGY and MENTAL SPACE.


It doesn’t change unless you actually make time to scrutinize everything and plan for change.

BUT It is POSSIBLE if you allow yourself to stop and decide what changes you want to achieve.

BE KIND to yourself and find your fun.

and If you need Help you can get it here!

xx Sarah, the Charting Coach

PS I would love to work with you to help you create time for the things you love

Join Charting Champions Program

Designed for Physicians to get Today's work done Today

And Make time for everything else!

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#burnoutprevention #chartingcoach

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