CanMEDS Manager
Time Management

Time Management


Jorge Barrios, 2007
Time is not available to us to manage but we can manage how we use our time with the goal of finding balance and peace.

easy first steps:

  • track your time and see how you are using it 

  • figure out your priorities and then apply them to your work

  • cut out obvious time wasters, schedule time for important things that are getting deferred (exercise, calling your mother, going to the dentist...)








This framework is originally from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® by Stephen R. Covey.






 Critical Activities - Do now!

 Important Goals - Plan to do these next


 Interruptions - Manage and minimize

 Distractions - Avoid!


For each of the quadrants from the matrix list tasks from your work and home life.


Urgent, Important


Urgent, Less Important


Less Urgent, Important


Less Urgent, Less Important


In medicine, we tend to live in the urgent quadrants at expense of less urgent important tasks. If we can wean ourselves off urgency a little bit and shift our focus to the important tasks it might result in a more even pace and greater sense of command on the various task required to keep our work and personal lives in balance.


Efficiency Suggestions

  • doing a ’good enough’ job - "better is the enemy of good"

  • multi-tasking is a myth - it is not more productive  - don’t multitask - focus for a defined period of time on a task with clear goals 

  • write things down and use some sort of a scheduling aid - electronic or paper - choose something and use it

  • use ’to-do lists’ for all areas of your life-  develop a system that works for you and use it

  • establish healthy routines to carry you though times of crisis

  • prioritize

  • do the most important things first, early in the day

  • evaluating your work list and prioritizing it and planning how to approach your work tasks are important parts of the job, don’t skip them or minimize them

  • organize things so you can find them (desk top, computer files, paper files...)

  • set deadlines/completion goals for tasks

  • break large tasks down into manageable steps/actionable items

  • give things the time they deserve, set time limits on things

  • just say no - go upstream and cut work off at the source

  • delegate/outsource if possible

  • touch paper only once, have a system for dealing with paper

  • deal with email - don’t get overwhelmed, look at it once and delete it, file it or move it to a to-do list or action file

  • limit your email, check it on a schedule, deal with it in a timely fashion

  • keeping a paper trail/email trail - of plans, decisions, and discussions

  • effective use of email - send a followup email to record decisions made during informal conversations

  • make use of small bits of time - have something with you to read/work on if you have to wait somewhere for a short period of time,

  • admit when you are overwhelmed

  • know yourself, are you an owl or a lark? don’t fight it, work with it[2]




2. Thanks to Dr. Ruth Wilson for many of these suggestions.

All references for this section