I grew up in a family where the expectation was clearly set that you would advance in knowledge beyond what the teacher was teaching at school, the preacher taught on Sunday’s, or any coach could provide. It was your responsibility to grow in wisdom. I have carried that thru into my adult life by maintaining a daily “quiet time” to read, study, and grow - setting aside 45 min to an hour each morning. (which happens to be the quietest time available in a house with 4 young boys.)
A few weeks ago I started a study called “Balancing Life’s Demands” which discusses mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual balance. The study uses the word “Margin” and defines it as the difference between what needs to be done and the time you have to do it. I will have yet another birthday soon….not real thrilled about it…..so the identification of what one would call balance or margin is becoming a more focused effort.
The ironic part of this life assessment is over the past 14 years, I have consulted with dozens of hospitals on defining margin for their organization. I analyze the obscure data generated by specific variable workflow activities and give recommendation on utilizing technology to enhance it. The software we developed automates much of that process and enables continuous improvement. Aperum uses data visualization to identify the often misunderstood work load driven form theinconsistent demands on their care teams generated by patients.
I keep telling myself this life assessment should be a no brainer - life margin should not be elusive or nebulous. I have built an entire business on designing “at a glance visuals” – where the metric quickly and effectively means something to an organization. However, it’s easy to say “I prioritize my family and church first” but if you look at the quantifiable data of hours spent per week – it’s not really a balanced metric. (Same is true in nursing if you analyze where they spend the most time – you will find it’s not at the bedside so the perception is the main priority is not “direct” patient care….but that’s another blog.)
Strangely enough, I was a week or so in to this new study when Ed Marx posted his blog Bank Life, Not Vacation Days. I loved that he had thought of a metric for evaluating whether or not he was in check for his commitment to balance – PTO hours accumulated vs PTO hours used. A simple and easy to define number that encompasses a lot of information. That’s the key – everyone knows that you have fewer PTO hours than you do total work hours – so it’s not a 1 for 1 equivalent. It’s a predefined measurement of additional time away from work. Our payroll company generates that automatically and posts it to our online account – I honestly have never looked at it. Not because I am pretentious and think the walls would fall down without me (I travel enough to know that my team has the operations side handled). Mainly, I love work and I don’t really think about it unless prompted by my husband that a vacation would be nice. I took a look after reading his blog…..let’s just say I booked a vacation next month.
If you are in Health IT and are not familiar with Ed’s blog –CIO Unplugged – he is a consistent blogger that has a way of communicating things that present more than just HIT initiatives – he gets “real”.