How Did That Happen?: How to schedule in order to optimize both life and learning

I am spending this weekend on call.   And the first weekend that it has seemed really summery here. My timing is impeccable.Thank goodness for home call.

This week’s How Did That Happen? is about scheduling. I call it “how to schedule to optimize both life and learning.”stethoscopes1

I had this conversation with one of the other residents in the program last week about how to schedule vacation and calls and life to try to optimize learning and good quality time to do those things that we want to do. It is tricky to say the least. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.  t have something on the go every weekend in July, so scheduling call and church set-up duty and things this month coming were logistical disasters.

As usual, I don’t have it all figured out. And I am pretty sure there is no magical formula.

  • Not every rotation gives you the luxury of picking call or even requesting days to not be on call if you don’t have formal vacation booked. Sometimes, you just have to work on a certain day. Make the best of it.
  • If you get scheduled for call or a shift when you have something planned or something comes up, try to trade with someone. This may not work because others may have plans or may just be jerks. I have encountered both.
  • If you don’t have something on the go and someone asks to switch shifts with you and you have no good reason not to, switch with them. What goes around comes around.
  • Keep a calendar with important dates on it. Refer to said calendar in advance. The more notice you can give people of shifts you can’t take or time you want to request off, the better.
  • If you get guaranteed post-call days, make use of them. The afternoons are prime times to go to appointments, run errands or even travel (ensure sufficient rest if you are the one driving). Some of my best post-call days were used to go on café dates with the husband, travel home or get important shopping done.
  • Use call to your advantage. If you are lucky like me, your contract might stipulate that if you work on a statutory holiday, you get a day off in lieu. That means it is another day that doesn’t count against vacation time to use at another time (in my case within a couple months of the actual holiday). This is great for constructing a long weekend or getting an extra day to study or work on research.
  • Choose your vacation wisely. We are allowed to break up our vacation any way we want, so long as we don’t miss more than ¼ of any rotation. I have seen people take it all in the first couple months and then had nothing left or not used it and were stuck trying to take days excessively at the end of the year.
  • Being allowed to break up your vacation is advantageous in that you can take a day or two and tag them on to weekends you know you are off to make long weekends instead of just having one week.
  • Conferences are your friends. We get funding and time to go to certain conferences while some other departments might allow a cetain amount of tiem to go to whatever conference. They can be in really nice places and taking extra vacation around these can lead to you getting to enjoy a place you might not have otherwise had the time or money to visit while getting some learning in.
  • Keep in mind that things like exams and presentations are often scheduled in advance. Try not to be on call the night before and if possible schedule them at times where rotations and your life aren’t too hectic.
  • If you are married, both call schedules and vacation schedules should probably be run by the spouse.  Sometimes, it feels like we are a logistical nightmare, but every once in a while we have a scheduling “win” and get some extra time together.
  • You can’t do everything.  Sometimes you just have to say no to things.
  • You need to do something fun.  Try scheduling in mandatory fun time.  Or, if that isn’t an issue, schedule mandatory homework time.  Or both.
  • If you pick your call, try to do the same day every time, so it is easy to remember.
  • If you pick your call, try not to be on call before special teaching events or things you will end up missing if you are post-call.
  • Use your time wisely. Seems simple. But its not.
  • Know that despite all of your planning, something will go wrong. Your exam will get rescheduled three times, your relatives will die, you will get sick.
  • In the end, you will work about the same amount and be off about the same amount, so it is not the end of the world when something doesn’t work out. You win some and you lose some.

2 thoughts on “How Did That Happen?: How to schedule in order to optimize both life and learning

    • So true! I do a lot of home call, so I don’t get them, which is unfortunate because that means less time to actually get things done, but on the bright side, more sleep at home. When I do get a post call day, I often have had such a rough night, the day is mostly lost, but I still try to make it worthwhile!

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