Work Logs During COVID

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Copyright : Dmitrii Shironosov 

Ever since the pandemic began, many of us have become accustomed to working from home. For some, the shift to a home office environment may have enhanced productivity, while for those who struggle with self-motivation, a home work environment may have served as nothing but a challenge. Suddenly, work environments became riddled with completely new potential distractions, such as pets, children, package deliveries, and household chores. We have had to take more responsibility over our accountability and work ethic, while also working at a pace which doesn’t burn us out. I have a hunch that while some people have slacked off while working from home, more have probably worked harder while trapped at home than they ordinarily would while in a traditional work environment. I know that I have stayed up incredibly late at night to perform asynchronous telemedicine visits from home, something I would never be willing to do if I was working in a traditional clinic or medical office.

One thing I hadn’t given much thought to, despite the fact that my telemedicine productivity is monitored online, is that some employers have required employees to fill out work logs which itemize every single task an employee performs while on the clock. Given the fact that home distractions are quite different from work distractions, I wonder how much reported work activities have conflicted with what someone actually did during a work shift. On the other side of the coin, should quick bathroom breaks and trips to the kitchen for a snack be reported as scheduled breaks?

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Copyright : lightfieldstudios

Work/life balance is critically important for us all. We aren’t slaves, nor should we be treated as such. I truly believe that if an employee performs all required tasks for a given day, then the employer has no right to monitor every single second of that employee’s time, whether it is spent in the office/shop or at a home office. Another consideration is that while some would consider the presence of a pet in the home work environment to be a distraction, having a beloved pet around would reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance mood. I know that when I have one of my cats sitting on my lap while I am working on the computer, I am much more at ease. As a matter of fact, I have my rescue cat Shima sitting on my lap while I write this blog post, and I honestly feel that she enhances the flow of ideas and gives me so much love and comfort, thus enhancing my work.

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Copyright : lacheev

There are a multitude of benefits I can come up with for working from home:

  • No need to battle traffic or spend extra time sitting in a car or other mode of transportation as a means of traveling to and from a work site
  • Ability to perform relaxation breathing, rant, etc. while working especially long or frustrating hours without getting berated for it
  • You can work in your skivvies if you so choose

I’m curious to know who prefers working from home, and who is actually looking forward to returning to their regular work environment.

Of Orifices and Zero Freedom

As a physician, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of studying every part of the human body, to the most minute detail. I have hovered over cadavers which were fileted and displayed for they eyes of inquisitive medical students, and scrubbed in on colon resections, open heart surgery, neurosurgery, cataract removal, etc. During my first month of internship as a newly minted physician, I massaged a dying heart with my gloved hands (no, the patient didn’t survive). I have also delivered over 40 infants via vaginal and Cesarean methods, and have pronounced the demise of patients in the wards. In fact, there are many stories I have collected over the years, some incredibly sad, some disgusting, some frightening, and some infuriating, but all true, and all part of my experience as a doctor.

I knew full well that by signing up for an education in medicine, I would be subjected to disgusting, morbid, frightening things, and that I would face mortality on a regular basis. However, after several years of working in family practice, I began to notice that I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I examined orifices of every kind on a very regular basis. Whether it was a nostril, a mouth, an ear canal, an anus, a urethral meatus (layman’s term pee-hole), or vagina I had to examine, I was never thrilled about it, and the orifices below the belt were certainly much more bothersome to address. My intense dislike of such examinations, combined with the tedium of primary care and the low insurance reimbursement for services and procedures provided, caused me to retreat from primary care and focus more on the areas I had more interest in, namely, physical medicine, cosmetic dermatology, and anti-aging medicine, all of which are much cleaner and which do not require me to conduct examinations on private parts.

Another feature of primary care which made me cringe was the intense demand on a practitioner’s time. The only time it ever seemed reasonable for me to literally lose sleep night after night as a physician was when I was in training. At this point, there is no way you could convince me that such a thing is healthy, and I refuse to sign up for that. I won’t give up weekends to take on three stacked 12-hour work shifts, and I will not give up the few holidays I celebrate (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day) in order to work. As it is, I give up other major holidays to work, but since the work I perform on those holidays is in bodybuilding and fitness, I don’t mind it at all.

I love being a physician, and I find it incredibly rewarding to make a positive impact on my patients. However, I will not sacrifice balance in my life, or the freedom to pursue my other interests, in order to prove to society what a good physician I am. I don’t believe for a second that running oneself into the ground working as a physician ever sends a positive message to others. I don’t ever want to be the kind of doctor who is saddled with so many chart notes to write that an entire weekend is devoted to completing them. Not for me.

Lasty, I think it’s so strange that society still assumes that doctors are supposed to give their time and knowledge at a moment’s notice, on demand, yet I don’t see those same demands placed on people in other industries. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a brief conversation with a complete stranger, who dares to ask me a medical question as soon as my profession is revealed. I swear, one of these days I am going to get a t-shirt made that says, “THE DOCTOR IS OFF-DUTY RIGHT NOW…NO MEDICAL QUESTIONS PLEASE”!

Working For Free – REPOST

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Have you ever completed a work project which offered no compensation except for a pat on the back? If so, did it bother you? It should have. By agreeing to slave away (pun definitely intended here) at an assignment with full awareness that you would receive absolutely no monetary compensation, you just devalued yourself.

I am not talking about volunteer work, or favors which you offer to do for a family member or friend. I am also not talking about getting your feet wet by taking on a task in an unfamiliar area so that you can gain valuable experience. I am instead referring to situations in which you are asked to provide your knowledge, expertise and service in an area in which you excel, and are coaxed into it with the promise that it’s a one-time favor, or that there will be compensation sometime in the future, only to discover that the promise was in fact a lie.

As a result of my abiding loyalty to companies, friends, family, and pets, I am the type of person who never leaves. You can count on me, and I honor my word. One of my faults is that I assume that other people are the same way, and even when I can plainly see that I am being taken advantage of, I often still hang on. This type of behavior spilled over into the world of medicine, wellness and fitness for a while, but a couple of years ago, I cut off all of the companies and individuals who got too much of a good thing for too long, essentially my time, services and knowledge for free.

In one situation, one company asked me to provide professional services on a monthly basis, stating that it would be unpaid to start out with, but that compensation would be given after a few months. Next thing I knew, I had provided those services free of charge for eighteen months! When I fired a warning shot, essentially stating that I no longer wanted to work for free, the company responded by inferring that the “exposure” I was receiving from them was payment enough. The funny thing is, I didn’t need the exposure, nor was this company in a position to help me. I merely agreed to the arrangement as a temporary favor to them, sort of a good faith move. All it ended up doing was getting me stuck in a monthly obligation which I got zero benefit from doing. Once I realized this, I severed ties immediately. Though I used very professional and polite language, it felt so good to tell them that I was done being an indentured servant. No longer did I have to put their assignments in my calendar, or resent the fact that each one of those assignments chewed up a good hour or two of my time.

More recently, I agreed to complete an assignment for free simply because I found it intriguing, and I had a small pocket of time in which to complete the assignment. I also felt that it was a good way to introduce my skill set to the company. However, I made it very clear that the assignment was isolated, and that if the company wanted my services in the future, I would only consider paid assignments.

Time is money, and because I hold a medical degree and a bachelor’s degree, am a board certified physician, and have worked in the fitness industry for three decades, I have value which deserves proper compensation. Would you like to work for free, especially if it is in an area in which you have expertise? Let’s face it, we all need to find a way to bring money in. We have skills, we have knowledge, and we deserve to get a financial return for services rendered in our chosen work environment.

If you are the type of person who has a tendency to take on more than your schedule can handle, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your obligations and see if any of them are a threat to your self-worth. If they are unpaid, uncontracted, require your skills in an area in which you are considered an expert, and are contributing to a decline in your quality of life because they are a time burden, then you should consider dropping those obligations.

Shut Up, I’m Trying to Concentrate! (Revised Repost)

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There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Since I spend a lot of time at home writing, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music will get me to the point where I get close to losing it. I am well aware of the fact that I suffer from misophonia, and have dealt with it since med school days, when I had to wear earbuds whenever I sat for exams.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

Cat shutting dog up

Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

How Social Media Has Messed Us Up

The majority of us can’t even imagine being without our cell phones. The relatively tiny devices we carry around with us now function as GPS devices, marvelous computers which connect us to every part of the world, tie us into a massive information network which we have become entirely reliant on, and also happen to function as the basic communication aids which were originally invented by Italian inventor Antonio Meucci in 1849 (Alexander Graham Bell won the credit in 1876 as a result of winning the first U.S. patent).

Cell phones have become a necessity in modern society, but they have also caused us to develop compulsive behaviors which feed into the irresistible distraction which they present. Though you may deny it, I am willing to bet that you experience a certain level of anxiety if your cell phone battery power winds down, if you lose reception, if you lose a Wifi signal, or are somehow locked out of a website you need to access immediately. We have become so reliant on the immediate gratification which comes with doing a Google search on our Smartphones or iPhones that we have turned into petulant children when glitches occur. We are so dependent on our cellular devices that they have become security blankets.

Whether we like it or not, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to ordinary daily tasks. We could be sitting at work, cooking a meal, walking our dogs, or driving to work, while still concerned about what supposedly vital information we are missing by not staring at our phones. God forbid we miss our friends’ Facebook updates or allow our email inboxes to pile up as we try to navigate through a typical day! We are accustomed to having our phones close by at all times, and every time it makes a notification sound, we stop what we are doing to attend to our phones, which draws attention away from what we should really be focused on. Time ticks by, and suddenly, we are distracted from viewing a beautiful sunset. Even if we view that beautiful sunset, we tend to feel a compulsion to record the sunset by taking a picture of it with those confounded phones.

Even when we aren’t at work, our brains must sort through an enormous amount of information from our phones and computers. One 2011 study stated that we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day. And since the brain’s ability to process information is limited, we often end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as we try to power through all the information being thrown at us. Though the age of social media has enabled us to connect in novel and far-reaching ways, it also robs us of our attention and distracts us from other tasks.

It’s no wonder that the incidence of anxiety in our society has increased dramatically.

There should be a limit on the frequency with which we view social media sites. Be sure to set aside a brief designated time each day to check emails and peruse social media, then PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. Leave the bulk of each day to relaxing, sightseeing, engaging in outdoor activities, and enjoying life. Trust me, your brain needs a break from the constant influx of technology.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

Working For Free

bloggers-working-free

Have you ever completed a work project which offered no compensation except for a pat on the back? If so, did it bother you? It should have. By agreeing to slave away (pun definitely intended here) at an assignment with full awareness that you would receive absolutely no monetary compensation, you just devalued yourself.

I am not talking about volunteer work, or favors which you offer to do for a family member or friend. I am also not talking about getting your feet wet by taking on a task in an unfamiliar area so that you can gain valuable experience. I am instead referring to situations in which you are asked to provide your knowledge, expertise and service in an area in which you excel, and are coaxed into it with the promise that it’s a one-time favor, or that there will be compensation sometime in the future.

As a result of my abiding loyalty to companies, friends, family, and pets, I am the type of person who never leaves. You can count on me, and I honor my word. One of my faults is that I assume that other people are the same way, and even when I can plainly see that I am being taken advantage of, I often still hang on. This type of behavior spilled over into the world of medicine, wellness and fitness for a while, but I have recently done a 180 and have cut off all of the companies and individuals who got too much of a good thing for too long.

In one situation, one company asked me to provide professional services on a monthly basis, stating that it would be unpaid to start out with, but that compensation would be given after a few months. Next thing I knew, I had provided those services free of charge for eighteen months! When I fired a warning shot, essentially stating that I no longer wanted to work for free, the company responded by inferring that the “exposure” I was receiving from them was payment enough. The funny thing is, I didn’t need the exposure, nor was this company in a position to help me. I merely agreed to the arrangement as a temporary favor to them, sort of a good faith move. All it ended up doing was getting me stuck in a monthly obligation which I got zero benefit from doing.

I am not trying to toot my horn, but time is money, and because I hold two degrees, am a board certified physician and have worked in the fitness industry for three decades, I have value which deserves proper compensation. Would you like to work for free, especially if it is in an area in which you have expertise? Let’s face it, we all need to find a way to bring money in. We have skills, we have knowledge, and we deserve to get a financial return for services rendered in our chosen work environment.

As a result of my decision to rid myself of any unpaid assignments or other elements in my life which were eroding my sense of self-worth, I finally severed the ties with the company I mentioned above. Though I used very professional and polite language, it felt so good to tell them that I was done being an indentured servant. No longer did I have to put their assignments in my calendar, or resent the fact that each one of those assignments chewed up a good hour or two of my time.

If you are the type of person who has a tendency to take on more than your schedule can handle, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your obligations and see if any of them are a threat to your self-worth. If they are unpaid, uncontracted, require your skills in an area in which you are considered an expert, and are contributing to a decline in your quality of life because they are a time burden, then you should consider dropping those obligations.

Being Spontaneous Is Good For The Soul

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Most people who know me well would describe me as pretty organized and on top of things. I am also so busy all the time that I honestly have to put everything in my calendar so that I know what is happening. As a result of having so much on my plate, I am rarely able to make last minute plans. I often give people the impression that I am all work and no play, and that I am always serious.

But I am a spunky one and thrive on variety. Though I like consistency and stability, I am always keen on new adventures, and much like a horse in a corral, I go a bit stir crazy when I am cooped up in a place or a situation for too long. As a result, the spontaneous part of me sometimes takes over, and I will do something out of character. I honestly wish I had more of a chance to do something on a moment’s notice, but I am a grownup, with a career and some pretty big goals which require my focus and attention.

Every once in a while, I have to contend with last minute schedule changes which usually make me feel anxious. It is pretty challenging for me to have to completely rearrange my schedule when one event shifts, because a domino effect occurs. However, I have been more adaptable in recent weeks, and have even found myself changing things up without having a compulsion to resist the changes. Instead of rushing home after work to do even more work, I have recently allowed myself to visit friends, lounge on the sofa with a cat or two, or take myself out to dinner after a particularly long day.

I also love finding a gap in my schedule and throwing a weekend getaway into the mix, because it enables me to recharge my batteries, escape the rhythm of my regular schedule, and have a little fun. There is also a part of me which yearns for international travel, so much so that I am willing to move everything around to accommodate a visit to another country. My attitude is that life is short, and that you only live once. I have no intention of waiting until the “perfect” time to travel or take a vacation, especially since I was stuck in that mindset for far too long during my 20’s and 30’s. If I can visit a different country ever year or so, I will be a happy camper.

Who knows, you might see me visiting a new country very soon!

Give Your Brain A Vacation!

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Please check out my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/give-your-brain-a-vacation/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito, Physician and IFBB Pro

Leaving Work Behind

Americans have a bad habit of skipping much needed vacations, either because they cannot catch up with their workloads, or because they can’t afford the travel expenses. However, everyone needs to press the reset button and allow their bodies, spirits and minds to relax. The brain in particular needs a break from all the factoids and sensory input which assault it on a daily basis. Yet we often feel the urge to check emails and social media while on vacation in an effort to keep up with the hectic and exhausting to-do list which seems to always hang over our heads. Guilt sets in over being away from work, even though we truly deserve to a have a little time off. The problem with tending to emails and other work-related items is that the break is eradicated, with the only distinction being that we have taken our work with us.

Information Overload

Even when we aren’t at work, our brains must sort through an enormous amount of information from our phones and computers. One 2011 study stated that we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day. And since the brain’s ability to process information is limited, we often end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as we try to power through all the information being thrown at us. Though the age of social media has enabled us to connect in novel and far-reaching ways, it also robs us of our attention and distracts us from other tasks.

So when we go on vacation, there should be a limit on the frequency with which we view social media sites. The best tactic while on vacation is to completely avoid electronic devices, but if you aren’t able to do that, set aside a brief designated time each day to check emails and peruse social media.

Leave the bulk of each day to relaxing, sightseeing, engaging in outdoor activities, and enjoying life. This way, your brain will enjoy the fruits of the vacation as well.

Shut Up, I’m Trying To Concentrate!

I-like-the-sound-you-make-when-you-shut-up

There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Now that I write content almost daily, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music (which I listen to through earbuds) will get me to the point where I get close to losing it.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

Cat shutting dog up

Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

When You Need To Get Away

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I am the kind of person who burns the candle at both ends, not necessarily because I like to constantly feel like I am being run ragged, but because I always have an insanely busy schedule which has me switching gears constantly throughout each day. My usual response to the question, “What did you do last weekend?” is that I worked. I am ALWAYS working on something, and there is always something to do in my hectic life.

There is a bit which comic John Mulaney performs which captures the feeling which I feel whenever I get the rare chance to actually relax on a weekend. Here’s his bit:

Kids always want to do stuff, kids get angry. They go, “awww, we didn’t do anything all day!”
You ever ask an adult what they did over the weekend and they say they didn’t do anything, their faces light up. It’s like, “What did you do this weekend?” Ï, uh, (big smile across one’s face) I did nothing. I did nothing at all! Did we do anything? No, we didn’t do anything!”

I am definitely feeling the urge to get away so I can get a break from the constant movement which defines my daily life. I firmly believe that everyone should take vacations and go on weekend getaways every now and then to recharge the spirit and relax the body and mind. Though I won’t be able to take any big trips this year, I know that a weekend getaway needs to occur soon so that I can preserve my sanity! The telltale signs of burnout are showing, such as lack of concentration, irritability, and fatigue. The nice thing about living in southern California is that there are so many options available for weekend getaways, so I will make sure to plan something very soon.