Last Post…

No worries, it's not in any sort of morbid way, except for the true fans(?) of this blog. My last post was 31 July, more than two months ago. I believe it's the longest hiatus I've taken from posting, but it has been, er, “hectic” during the last couple months of my internship. I've had the occasional thought to post here, or the occasional time and inclination to compose completely random posts; instead, though, like the truly selfish surgeon I've become, I've chosen to use such times for more, umm, personal relationship time and, of course, sleep (usually in that order).

As such, I'll include just a few final thoughts on “time management”, since that seems to be the difficulty. My interest was piqued this morning by another blog article entitled “Dealing with Professional Burnout without Quitting Your Job”. Even if burnout per se isn't my concern, there's almost always the risk for it in my profession, and it's safe to say that my days are quite filled with frustrations. Indeed, almost any of the suggestions in the aforementioned article would make my workday significantly more pleasant—were any of them actually possible.

Unfortunately, I don't have the option to “take a vacation as soon as possible”, “spend a week or two doing only the tasks you enjoy”, or even “prepare your resume to move on”. In fact, I would suppose that most of us—from fry cooks, waiters, and cashiers to physicians—don't have the ability to significantly change the tasks we do during our workday or the times in which we do them. Some may have more choice in moving to another position or career than most resident physicians do, but, like some comments in that article noted, I don't believe it's in any way where I work that causes difficulty in my daily life.

Please understand that my goal here is not to complain without suggestion for relief a la punditry, but rather to note the difficulty with traditional “how to enjoy your job more” suggestions—they're for businessmen, managers, paper pushers, contractors, and so forth. They're not for those of us in service industries where the customer's immediate need—be it ATLS, placement of an external ventricular drain, or the location of the latest DVD releases—must suspend all other activity, where the least favorite part of your job may be the most important part, or where the “dream job” in which your enjoyment really is assured is a dozen years away and requires success in a more nightmarish scenario before you can arrive there.

Thus, my grand suggestions for all those who wish relief to their miserable positions, my epiphanies of the last several weeks which I can only hope will enable me and others to improve our lot as it is, my commandments to which thou must adhere:

  1. Suck it up. Yup, it's tough, but there's some reason you're where you are, and the most likely reason is some choice you made previously. Desperately try to remember what that choice was. If it was a choice you regret now, quit bitching and try to undo it. If it was a choice you don't regret, remember it and keep coming back to it when you feel like bitching. I think many of us fall into the latter category; certainly most residents do. If nothing else, just try to head toward the ever-elusive “something better”… and suck it up in the mean time.
  2. Find someone who will help you suck it up. My significant other is amazing. She cooks, she cleans, she continuously tells me how proud she is of me and that I'll get through it all. She'll also suck it up as necessary, so when I'm doing work I don't want to be doing, I don't also have her telling me she wishes I wasn't doing it. I can't emphasize enough how important such a “someone” must be—and while for me it's a spouse, it could be just about any friend or family member for you.
  3. Don't let anything else get in the way. I'm minimizing. Uncluttering, if you will. Getting Things Done. Oh, there are plenty of projects to do. Crap around the house. A media center PC. Just watching some television. Stuff that's fun, or needs to get done, but is also a distraction from sucking it up and from spending time with your someone. Keep up with stuff that's really important to you, keep doing things that are fun—but get rid of things that have little point. Your future PC won't run Windows? Why spend time optimizing one that does? You're planning to “at some point” put surround-sound speaker outlets directly into the walls? Why tear up carpet for an interim solution?

You don't have time to write on your blog anymore? Don't.

Oh, I'll be archiving everything anyway—I'm really bad at number 3—and I will probably revamp the site to be a non-blog personal page at some point in the future. Still, I'm considering this “last post”. I still enjoy writing, and I thank those of you who have read my rants and prodded me on. See you all around!