The Ultimate Time Management Guide for GPs

time_management_gps_flat.jpgApparently, GPs only have use of the same 168 hours per week as everyone else. How unfair!

Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner have spent 10 years working with doctors to improve their psychological well-being and sustainability. They have also acted as consultants for a number of medical organisations including the APCC.

They tell us that most GPs love their jobs – if only there wasn’t so much of it!

They have recently written ‘The Ultimate Time Management Guide for GPs’, which collates the results of their research and their experience working with thousands of doctors.

The book makes the bold guarantee that if you invest the one hour it takes to read it, and try out just one of the strategies, you’ll get a minimum extra two or three hours back a week in return!

The alternative, as we know well, is that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you get.

Right from the start the book is refreshingly practical. It is full of shared real-world stories. Clearly, Hugh and Maria understand the life (and thinking) of GPs.

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One registrar told us that us that she regularly ran late. It got to the point where she wouldn’t drink water during the day so that she wouldn’t have to go to the toilet. Because this would have meant walking out past the waiting patients who she thought would be very displeased to see her taking a break while they were waiting.

As well as lots of very practical advice (“Do paperwork with the patient present”. “Book your annual leave now – and tell your family“), the book busts many of the myths that GPs believe. Hugh and Maria tell us that ”its the thought that counts“ – their background in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is apparent. The book challenges us to replace our usual ways of thinking with a more accurate appraisal of reality. ”I think that the community will suffer if I say no. But the truth is I can’t be responsible for everyone and everything – I have a limit.“


I’m indispensable.
I can do it all.
I don’t need a break.
It will get better.
I don’t have time.

The Guide is broken down into small bite-sized sections to allow the time-poor to read little bits when time allows. My personal motto is ”always put off till tomorrow anything that I could do to today“, so I was glad to read the chapter on Procrastination. (and, I’m writing this article, so it worked!)

Do you find it hard to say no? Try ‘the spouse test”. (“we sometimes tell doctors that they shouldn’t make decisions unless they have a consenting adult present“).

Other subjects discussed include setting priorities (where does your family fit? yourself?), running late, beating the paperwork monster, dealing with email, training patients and managing staff. Sustainability is a key issue (”Its a Mararthon, not a Sprint“).

There is a special section for rural docs.

Hugh and Maria – your ‘minimum extra two or three hours a week back’ guarantee is safe. I would highly recommend ‘The Ultimate Time Management Guide’ to all GPs (and their spouses!). I am sure that all of us can benefit from some of the practical suggestions and improved ways of thinking outline in the book.

The Guide is available from order Ventolin .

The APCC has purchased a number of copies that we will give to a selection of practices who post their top Time Management tip as a comment on this page.

order citotec The Ultimate Time Management Guide for GPs (and in fact anyone in private practice) by Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner
Published by Flinders University Press. 74 pages.

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9 Responses to “The Ultimate Time Management Guide for GPs”

  1. Kym Wendt
    April 17th, 2009 | 10:25 am

    Practice nurses can do lots of jobs GP’s do e.g. weigh babies at check-up time. They are an invaluable aid

  2. April 17th, 2009 | 10:44 am

    “Get the nurse to do it for you whenever possible – if she can’t then
    – train her up to do it!! – if there is no nures –
    – get a nurse!!”

    Corollary to this is the nurse needs to consider “Get the recptionist to do it for you whenever possible!!”

  3. Kim Gardner
    April 18th, 2009 | 8:45 pm

    At our practice we try and get our nurse to do all necessary investigations needed before the doctor sees the patient eg BP, weight etc and the doctor says he sees the patients when in the “red zone” which means the doctor can be more focussed on his patient.

    On a really busy day by doing this our nurse can often work the doctor from 2 different rooms by the next patient ready for when the doctor has finished with the one he is seeing.

  4. Rhys
    April 19th, 2009 | 3:35 pm

    Know your limits. If you are always runnning late you are taking on too much. Stop. Reconsider.
    If you like being late because you by being busy, you know are important, resume.
    If you don’t like it and you can cope without being important, do less, live longer instead.

  5. Asha d'Arville
    April 21st, 2009 | 10:30 am

    Have breakfast – Even if it is the new Japanese fad of a banana and a glass of warm water.
    I know I’m much more efficient in the mornings when I’ve eaten than when I’m distracted by hunger!

    And as for the registrar who didn’t want to take toilet breaks – my hint is LOOK BUSY. Even if you are ducking to the back room for a quick drink or a toilet stop, if you feel guilty about it then your patients may notice. If you look like you’re doing something important by walking quickly, or carrying a small textbook, they’ll think it’s about patient care, and have more leniency 🙂

  6. Sharon Muir
    May 24th, 2009 | 8:14 pm

    We produced a brochure for our patients that details “how to book an appointment” with an overview and examples to help them know how much time their issue might need. It includes a list of “tips” to help them get the most from their time with the doctor. We also give everyone a paper entitled “The List” at check-in so they can document their concerns while waiting, to present to the doctor at the start of the consultation. This has helped us run closer to time as we identify which issues might be managed in the time available. Our patients are better informed and less frustrated. We are all feeling happier about the way the day flows.

  7. Greg Malcher
    August 3rd, 2009 | 8:51 pm

    my top Time Management tips are: 1. never do something after the consultation that can be done during it.This legitimately turns Bs into Cs. 2. Never make a phone call that can be delegated to someone else.

  8. Sammy
    March 16th, 2011 | 1:03 am

    Please publish this in the UK – I want a copy but it’s not available on Amazon!

  9. suzanne stewart
    January 29th, 2012 | 10:01 am

    I would like to buy a copy of the ultimate time management guide for GPs in the UK and wonder how to access it?
    Many Thanks
    Suzanne Stewart

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