or: "The best $10 I Ever Spent"
My husband snores. Over the years, I have become a light sleeper, and his snoring often wakes me up. At first, jostling him was enough to get him breathing normally again and I could get back to sleep. Now, I can’t get back to sleep before he starts up again, which ends up with sleepless nights and bad moods. (Of course, other than the snoring, he sleeps like a baby.)
I tried white noise machines, but his snoring laughs at them. I tried jostling him to break the cycle, which works but is temporary - he usually starts snoring again before I drift off.
I needed a better solution.
After years of going to shows and wearing foam earplugs to protect my hearing from the loud music, it finally hit me. Those same effective and comfortable foam earplugs that dampened the sound just might work with a snoring sleeping partner. I headed over to the internet, plunked down something like $9 for 50 pairs of foam earplugs and my problem was solved.
For me, the ear plugs take off enough of the edge that I can sleep without being woken up - yet still can hear my alarm go off in the morning. They’re relatively comfortable; quieter sleeping is more important to me than pure comfort, so I compromise.
What does this have to do with charting?
The best advice that I can give you when it comes to the never ending avalanche of charting responsibilities is to manage all distractions to the best of your ability.
Turn off notifications on your phone
Hang a do not disturb sign (even if you have to write it on a post it)
Turn the ringer off on your desk phone
Close your door if you have one
I think of it like fliping a switch, or a series of switches, signaling to myself that I am committing completely to the task at hand. Whether I am spending five minutes or an hour, this sort of ritual helps to put me in the right mindset to crank out some notes, handle some lab results, review referral notes.
Earplugs can help.
I am naturally very curious, so if there are conversations happening in my vicinity, I can’t help but to listen. If they are interesting conversations, it can be hard for me to tune them out. When I put my earplugs in, it dampens the sounds of those conversations, and is an important signal to myself that I am focusing on the task in front of me.
When I hit the switch for sleep, earplugs. When I hit the switch for being as focused and effective as I can with my clinical sidework, earplugs. When I am reading and working on absorbing new information, earplugs.
Earplugs won’t work for everyone or in all situations, but the underlying principle of using them will. Figure out a way to send a clear signal to yourself (and anyone else who needs to be told) that you are busy. That you can’t be disturbed. That you are diving in to the matter at hand. Take your steps to tune out the noise and tackle what’s in front of you - and then move on.