Tip of the week: Stay on top of tasks in the midst of the orientation frenzy

Residency Program Insider, June 22, 2010

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With orientation activities ramping up, the last few weeks of June and the beginning of July are complete madness for program directors and coordinators. With all of the last-minute preparations and requests, it can be difficult to stay on top of e-mails and daily tasks.

Tame your inbox by checking and responding to e-mails at specific times throughout the day. Try twice a day at first. If that’s too infrequent, check every two hours.

Rather than using your in-box as a storage unit, create folders for specific events or topics. File the e-mails you want to save so they’re easy to find.

E-mail filters, or mail rules, are another time-saver. Filters send e-mails from certain senders directly to a specified folder instead of your in-box. This feature is especially helpful for e-newsletters or listserv messages that can easily pull you away from work. Go to the folder when you have a minute and feel like reading. Typically, you can set up filters by going to the “tools” or “settings” section of your e-mail program.

Learning to work around interruptions is also critical. A coordinator’s desk or office is the hub of the program. The door opens and closes constantly, so it’s hard to have an uninterrupted thought.
Break assignments into smaller pieces that you can complete between interruptions. For example, divide an hour-long project into four 15-minute steps. That way, when you get interrupted, you’re probably at the end of a step, so it’s not as disruptive.

If you need to focus intensely on an assignment, ask your boss if you can temporarily adjust your work schedule. Come in at times when the office is less chaotic such as early morning or on weekends.

This week's tip is from Residency Program Alert, a monthly newsletter offering program directors, coordinators, and GME office staff tips for program management, resident education, and ACGME compliance.

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