Coaching Options
Healing Perfectionism Group
Free Webinar

STOP Trying to Be More Efficient! You’re Solving the WRONG Problem!

boundaries effectiveness efficiency Feb 10, 2024
Efficacy over efficiency

Efficacy Eats Efficiency For Lunch

“I need to be more efficient.”

Who amongst hasn’t said this, thought this, bemoaned this. The shine of efficiency has been drilled into us as the important thing for improving patient access. 

But we don’t actually want to be efficient. What we actually want is to be effective.

According to Management Guru, Peter Drucker, often quoted in habits and similar self-help books, “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”


When Physicians focus on efficiency in our work, this might mean charting highly detailed notes more rapidly, responding to 3000 messages quickly without breaking a sweat (or having a panic attack), breezing from room to room. 

Note too how when managers ask us to be more efficient, they are asking us to see more people more quickly. But in Drucker’s words, and in our perfectionist habits, efficiency also involves doing things right, doing things *just so,* which likely is translated into your brain as perfect notes + patients who love you for answering all their questions/concerns, but somehow cranked up to max speed.

Effectiveness, on the other hand, is you doing the right work. I’m sure we could debate this, but in my mind, my right work as a Family and Obesity Medicine Specialist is evaluating the patient’s history, exam and other data to develop an effective treatment and communicate it clearly to the patient. My right work doesn’t include explaining copays, listening to complaints about other providers, doing my own scheduling, or writing pithy essays with each encounter.

I fully, fully endorse that this is hard to do, and I expect this will always be a work in progress for me. But I want to stay focused on the parts that are essential for me as the physician, and minimize/systematize/delegate or let go of crap that doesn’t require all of the expertise in my brain.

Yes, I could learn how to fax my own documents to minimize delays for patients.

Or fill out the full Sports Physical Form myself.

Or insist on not delegating because someone doesn’t document (or insert other administrative task here) *exactly* how I like it.

But none of us are here for the joys of charting. Or answering a million portal messages.

We are here, most of us, to use our expertise to care for patients.

Stop working on efficiency; decide what effectiveness looks like for you, in your circumstances. Where can you delegate? Where can you automate (including creating standardized instructions/replies to administrative questions)? Where do you need to set boundaries? What do you need to creatively procrastinate on (a form of letting go….)?

Decide where you will be more effective, so that you can do the right work for you.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

Schedule your free 1:1 call today

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join my mailing list to receive helpful tips and insights to your mailbox each week, as well as updates about my latest coaching offerings.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

I hate SPAM (all kinds really, don't come at me). I will never sell your information, for any reason.