How many of you remember the movie “Multiplicity?” If you don’t, Michael Keaton is offered the opportunity to clone himself so he can be many places at once. If you are a supervisor who also finds yourself on the bench you may be wishing for that same offer. With many healthcare organizations trimming the budget and looking to decrease the work force, (Cleveland Clinic wants to trim $330 million from the 2014 budget), finding time for those administrative duties is going to become extremely difficult. Without two or three of you, organization and prioritization will be your biggest allies in the fight against time.
A few things that have helped me in this endless fight are simple yet save me enough time that I do not have to take a lot of work home with me. The first is I have a love/hate relationship with paper. If I can scan it into a PDF file I will. It doesn’t matter if it is one page or 200 I will scan to prevent my desk from looking like a shred box. These PDF files are unalterable, time stamped, and pass as an original document during inspection. Virtual files on your computer take up a lot less space than filing cabinets and in most labs space is at a premium. Second, if you can delegate to staff some of the general duties, paperwork, or reports, do it. The benefit is threefold. You ease up your task list, you empower your employees, and you start to find who among your staff has the ability to fill your spot once you have the opportunity to move up. Yes, mistakes will happen at first but the benefit far outweighs the possible speed bumps.
Organization and prioritization will be your biggest allies in the fight against time.
A third helpful tip is to make templates and use them. If you are not strong in Microsoft Office have someone help you. Setting up the same report each month can take hours in itself. I have an electronic copy ready and available for every paper form I use. Furthermore, for my temperature logs I have 12 months in a file so at the end of the month my technologists can just pull the next month’s forms out and place them in the binder. Nothing needs to be printed or created.
This brings me to my next tip: think ahead. If you know you’re going to need a form each month print them out for the year and place them in an easily accessible folder or drawer.
My final tip, be consistent. If you need to pull a report on a certain day of the month, print it, perform the task associated with it and get rid of it. You don’t want to put it off for an off-bench day you have coming up. You could then get put on the bench because of a call-off, and now you have a mound of paper on your desk collecting dust. There may only be one of you, but you can work like there are more.