This post is not about that.
I have noticed a far less pleasant mental state that seems to afflict me in certain scenarios: the Mosquito Mind. For the record, I cannot stand mosquitos - they give me hideous itchy welts which last for days. So you can imagine how I feel about the Mosquito Mind state.
Characteristics of Mosquito Mind:
* flitting rapidly from task to task (example: checking email multiple times during the course of writing a single outpatient note)
* inability to stay in a single mental gear long enough to do anything of substance
* vague irritability for no real reason
Scenarios that tend to bring on MM:
* being interrupted frequently. I learned recently (on the Note to Self podcast) that outside interruptions actually increase the probability that you will start interrupting yourself. I have absolutely experienced this phenomenon before
* an uncertainty about what I am supposed to be doing due to a general sense of overwhelm / lack of clear prioritization
* the afternoon hours
* not having exercised
Things that tend to help prevent MM:
* having a deadline (if I am clear about exactly what needs to happen by XYZ time, I am much more likely to be able to focus)
* meditation (even 5 minutes)
As I am currently on call, I am experiencing plenty of MM. Yesterday, while trying to finish up notes at my desk, I had what felt like 2837 outside interruptions and then an equal number of self-inflicted ones. I need to figure out how to block out my day so that I am not constantly getting 'urgent' calls about things that are not urgent (important yes, but urgent no!), causing the unpleasant (and unproductive) pinging from task to task.
* consolidating patient slots a little so that there is a dedicated block of time at the end of the day to do patient phone calls / orders / lab result calls / whatever nagging tasks I am being asked to do intermittently all day
* NOT having email open on my desktop (!!!) and sticking to dedicated checking times. Sadly I have attempted this on so many occasions and failed. Eliminating digital distractions has been much much harder for me than any other habit!
* blocking out time for the day in my planner ahead of time so that I know, for example, 4:15 - 5 pm will be devoted to dealing with those kinds of tasks so that they are not bothering me the rest of the day
* establishing daily (or twice daily?) check-in times with staff so that they know when to approach me for questions/issues, or ask them to use the electronic in-box and not show up at my office door / call unless a matter is urgent
* blocking out periods on certain days (when I have time allotted) for focused work on projects such as residency tasks -- during which the inboxes will be closed (and perhaps my office door, too, which is currently always open)
* GTD -- I think that fully implementing this system will help with this (it is definitely supposed to), and I am on my way, so we will see.
today's attempt at taming the MM
Has anyone written an article / book / etc on this, especially as applied to the healthcare setting!? (If not . . . maybe I need to)