Time Management: 8 Tips for Clinicians

Hefty patient loads and administrative tasks make time management a challenge for rheumatologists. Here are 8 tips to better manage your time.

Between hefty patient loads and a seemingly endless flow of administrative tasks, it may feel like working a reasonable amount of hours each day is a pipe dream. Considering that working late into the night on a daily basis can adversely affect your health and well-being,1,2 it’s paramount that you break the cycle and restore balance. These 8 time management tips for rheumatologists can help.

1. Make a List

At the beginning of the day, take a couple of minutes to write down a list of tasks you absolutely need to accomplish and by when. Post that list in a visible location and refer to it often.

2. Monitor and Adjust Your Schedule

Spend a few days tracking your efficiency. If you find that you are consistently running behind, increase the time allotted for each patient. In addition, look for patterns in scheduling. If, for example, you find a high volume of patients scheduling emergency appointments on Mondays, reduce or eliminate these visits on Tuesdays.

3. Acknowledge Your Limitations

Before taking on new patients, ask yourself whether you can handle it. If you can’t, consider referring patients to a trusted colleague. If you have incoming deadlines, don’t agree to sit on a board or steer a committee. Taking on extra responsibilities can leave you exhausted and unable to provide the best care possible for your patients.

4. Automate Certain Administrative Tasks

Rather than ask your staff to manually handle scheduling, billing, and prescription refills, automate these processes. Numerous automated systems are available that can handle these tasks efficiently.

5. Delegate

Sometimes it’s quicker to do something yourself than to explain it to somebody else. However, by delegating tasks, you’ll allow your staff members to grow professionally and you won’t have to worry about handling those tasks down the line.

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6. Set Up an Internal Communication System

Time spent walking back and forth between rooms to delegate tasks is time wasted. Set up an internal communication system such as a chat program so that everyone can communicate instantaneously.

7. Manage Interruptions

Schedule time for only the most important calls and meetings. Also be sure to express your time restraints. For example, at the beginning of a phone call, inform the person on the other end that you only have a few minutes to talk.

8. Avoid Clutter

Don’t let stacks of paper pile up to the ceiling. Instead, set aside time each day to fill out, sign, process, and file documents so you don’t get stuck playing catch-up for hours on end.


  1. Carmichael SG. The research is clear: long hours backfire for people and for companies. Harvard Business Review. August 19, 2015. Accessed December 26, 2018.
  2. O’Connor A. Really? The claim: long work hours can cause depression. The New York Times. February 6, 2012. Accessed December 26, 2018.