Pretty much everyone agrees that medical professionals save lives and do an incalculable service to the communities where they work and live. Unfortunately, medical professionals also tend to be self-sacrificing and give of themselves so much that sometimes their personal relationships suffer. If you're working on-call or are working long hours at the clinic or hospital, how can you ensure you maintain a positive life-work balance and still make time for friends and family?
There are a few ways to make more time for friends and family:
1) Prioritize time outside of work carefully.
When you're not working, your number one priority may be to sleep and to get some self-care. Beyond that, how much time do you have? It depends, but use this time very carefully and focus on what matters to you.
Budget your time as carefully as you budget your money. For at least one week or one month, keep track of where your time goes. How much time do you spend commuting to work? How much time do you spend at work? How much time do you spend on-call and how much with friends and family, taking care of errands and dealing with all the other parts of your life? Knowing where your time goes allows you to look at it more carefully in the future.
2) Outsource what you can.
One way to make more time for friends and family is to have others take care of some tasks and errands. For example, you need to grocery shop, prepare meals and take care of other basic tasks, but you can save on a lot of that.
Automate where you can. Have your groceries delivered, set up automatic bill payments, take advantage of prepared meal services, hire someone to clean your house and essentially outsource as much of your life as you can. This will free up more time away from errands.
When you have time, you want to spend it on relationships and what you love - not on folding laundry and hacking away at a to-do list.
3) Try to meet friends or family in groups.
Meeting in groups makes it easier to see more of your friends and family even when you're short on time. Plan picnics, dinners out and parties when you can, rather than trying to make time for each person alone.
4) Keep communication open and get support when you need it.
Let your friends and family know they're important to you and express your concerns about your schedule and about maintaining friendships. Sometimes, when you're very busy, people around you may not realize they still matter to you and that you still want a relationship.
Have friends and family be part of the solution. Ask what you can do to strengthen your relationships and work together to find a solution. If you work long hours or nontraditional hours, your solutions may be unconventional. For example, maybe you meet friends and family for breakfast because that's the only time you can see them around your shift. Maybe you need to communicate via Facebook or text because right now your schedule doesn't allow much else.
Remember, you don't want to experience burnout, stress or depression because you aren't getting the support you need. If you aren't able to maintain your friendships due to your work schedule or you find your social life suffering, seek support from others in the field. You probably aren't the only person in the hospital or clinic who is struggling with work-life balance.
5) Find people with similar experiences.
Try making friends at work. They may have similar hours and may understand your time pressures. They can be a great support system for you. Your colleagues may even have some of the same challenges as you do with work life balance, and it can be a huge relief to talk to someone in a similar situation about your concerns — it can even be the start of a great friendship.
You can't be everywhere at once, but you can make a difference in your relationships. If you want to free up more time, consider buying your scrubs online. Pulse Uniform offers scrubs for the busy medical professional, and we value your time, so our ordering process is streamlined and fast.