Career and Time Management Strategies for Clinical and Health Services Researchers

This paper is aimed at junior clinical researchers and addresses time management issues associated with balancing the competing demands of academic medicine. The authors identify a number of strategies, including: figuring out which goals are the most satisfying to fulfill, and prioritizing time accordingly; organizing one's schedule according to personal values and rhythms, such as writing in the morning if that is the time of most effective concentration; collaborating with senior faculty to use available datasets as the basis of new studies; identifying local resources available to junior faculty members; utilizing mentors to help limit the demands made and limit volume of work; postponing making commitments wherever possible, to allow adequate time for thinking through the demands of a new project; minimizing costs associated with excessive multitasking by limiting time spent switching back and forth between activities, and by leaving 'to do' lists, thereby minimizing the need to rediscover the thought processes associated with each task; and minimizing interruptions such as e-mail, by limiting e-mail (or other interruptive activities) to certain blocks of time each day.

The authors conclude this list of strategies by emphasizing that effective career and time management involves understanding oneself and one's work environment and the interaction between them. Accomplishing this task, as well as learning when and how to say no, will maximize productivity and allow for better, more satisfying management of work volume and of life as a whole.