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The Schedule Hack

Dike Drummond, MD and Rob Orman, MD

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What’s that 800 point gorilla doing in your living room? That’s your job. Managing the gorilla isn’t as hard as you think, but it takes a strategy and commitment.



  • Life balance is a problem for physicians.

  • Maintain a calendar that has life events in addition to your schedule.

  • Date nights are important. Maintain your relationships.


  • How do you make your schedule? If you are a physician and you don’t put some boundaries around your career, you don’t have much room. Your career is like a large gorilla. If you want life balance, you need to plan for life balance. Life balance is not a problem. Problems have solutions. Life balance is a dilemma and a balancing act. You address dilemmas with strategies.

  • You need a paper calendar with the month at a glance and be able to take a picture with your cellphone. What is on your calendar? Typically your work or call schedule and if you have children, their schedule. You have no evidence of a life outside of your job. You are going to create a life calendar.

  • Once a week, gather your family around you. Get some colored pens. Put your life in the week ahead on the schedule.  What about your workouts, date night or a free hour for scheduled spontaneity? Everyone has a weekly bucket list item that changes your reality (for example, riding your bike). Place this in your schedule every week. Take a picture of this with your cellphone.

  • Now you have a life calendar. This makes it possible to say no. “Can you take a couple extra hours on Thursday?” If you don’t have your life calendar, you will say yes because you don’t want to seem like a slacker or weak.

    • There are computer programs you can use. However, the physical act of writing makes it real.

    • If you have your life calendar you can look at it. “I am sorry I can’t.  I have plans.”

  • This isn’t magic. You might say yes. You may have a debt to pay or want someone in your debt. You might not be comfortable saying no. If you say yes for whatever reason, you can see who you need to reschedule with.

  • Practice saying no.

  • This will give you a more balanced week every single time you use it. It takes discipline and strategy.

  • Date nights are important. If you don’t have a strategy to keep focus on your primary relationship, it wanes over time. Things get stale. Don’t do it less than twice a month.

  • If it’s not on your calendar, it won’t happen.

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Feeling Restless Full episode audio for MD edition 198:53 min - 93 MB - M4AHippo Primary Care RAP August 2016 Summary 784 KB - PDF