We often admire individuals who dedicate themselves to their professions.

Spending too much time at work, however, can be detrimental to mental and physical health.

Work-life balance is particularly important in the medical field.

With today’s technologies, it’s increasingly difficult for young physicians to leave their work at work. This can lead to work dissatisfaction, and other more serious consequences, including burnout, and physical or mental ailments.

Only 36% of surgeons felt their work schedule left enough time for personal and family life, according to Siva Raja, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Sharon Stein, M.D., of University Hospital Case Medical Center. Their assessment of work-life balance in health care suggests a staggering 63% of surgeons did not find time in their schedules for life outside their positions.

Arun Saini also explores the importance of such practices among physicians in his article on work-life balance. He theorizes that among hectic schedules in both work and personal life, young physicians fail to consider key factors that would enable them to operate effectively.

The factors can including setting priorities, finding a purpose for tasks, time management, and ongoing monitoring of the situation — or what Saini likes to call “reassess and reset.” He suggests taking a cue from companies like Google Inc. and Apple Inc., where physical and mental health have a more efficient place in work-life balance, with easy access to resources like recreational facilities.

What can you do?

Workflow data suggests that physicians may experience improved job performance when their time is split between work and non-work tasks.

While work-life balance cannot be standardized, tools for assessing priorities may be helpful in creating awareness of imbalances, Raja writes. One tool she recommends is a time budget using the following three steps:

  1. Identify how you’re currently spending your time.
  2. Set goals to identify your long-term objectives.
  3. Track your results to see how you’re doing.

According to one study referenced in Raja’s article, performing simple work–life “mindfulness” activities helped improve burnout markers within 9 months — a promising anecdote for those looking for balance in their professional lives.

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