Hello, I’m Dr. Jeff Kingsley and welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars with Researchers. Today I’m going to talk to research coordinators. Your lives are hard. You have too many things to do. I get it. I guarantee if you were to sit down right now and write down all the things that you have on your plate, all the things that need to get accomplished right now, it’s more than a hundred items. It would take several sheets of paper. How do you reign in that complexity?
How to Reign
If you don’t reign, you will be average. Exceptional performers are able to manage the complexity and that’s the difference. Exceptional performers can manage the complexity of being a research coordinator and it’s not easy. So here’s what I want to tell you. If you want to reign in that complexity, you really only need to focus on two things.
Top 3 Things
Every day, no matter how many things you have to do, I want you to pick the top three things that move the needle.
We’re in healthcare. I used to do emergency medicine and trauma medicine and when things get tough, you triage. In fact, you triage every moment of every day, but many times we seldom think about it. But you triage, in an ideal situation, I want to take care of every patient as fast as I possibly can and make them all perfectly happy and perfectly healthy. But if a bus hits another bus and 90 patients come rolling into the ER, the patient who’s in the ER with chronic low back pain is going to get lesser care. That’s triage.
You’ve got to take care of what’s most important at every moment in time. And we should treat our days like this. So you look at all the things that you have to do and you pick the top 3 and what you’re saying is, “I will get these 3 things done today and if I get them done, I can do more. I can do 5, 6, 10, 20 things, maybe, but I will get these 3 done.” Think Gandalf in Lord of the Rings standing on that bridge saying, “you shall not pass.” But you’re saying to your calendar, “this day will not end without me accomplishing these three.” Now, not a great analogy because it did kill Gandalf. He died, but he came back. So there’s that. So #1, you will accomplish these three things.
Block Your Time
If you’re not controlling your time, your calendar, then you’re like a a ship without a rudder. The wind is blowing you in one direction in the next, but you’re not actually controlling where you’re going.
It’s very important to look at your calendar the day before and look at what you have to do tomorrow. When do you have patients to see? When do you have meetings that you have to be in? Is there a SIV? Is there a PSV that you have to be in at a specific period of time? The morning of do it again and block your time: you have a patient at 11am, you’ll see that patient at 11am and it’s a 30 minute visit. You can be done with data entry by noon, then do lunch, but 1 o’clock when you hit your desk, you’re going to block an hour to knock out all of the query resolution on that trial and you’ve got a massive database lock that is due tomorrow. So you’ll spend some time with the principal investigator ensuring that they get database lock done in a timely fashion and efficiently block your time so that you’re in control of when you’re doing certain things.
Email is a beast. You can spend all day on email, leave to take care of a patient, go back to email. We’re getting bombarded with emails from CRAs asking, “Can you change this? Can you do this? Can you acknowledge this? Can you send me your screening log, your prescreening log? Can you verify that you have a login to be able to do database lock?” We’re bombarded with emails. Don’t let it take control. Block your time. I will do email from eight to nine in the morning. I’ll sign back on and email from 11am to noon, I’ll sign back on and email from 3pm to 4pm and I’ll figure out what do I need to do. But you can’t let email dominate your day.
So to be the best of the best, as a research coordinator, I’m telling you what separates the average from the truly great are the people that can take control of the complexity of the job and the two ways that you can do that are to pick the 3 things every day that really move the needle and guarantee yourself that you will do those and control your time. Control your calendar, block your time to ensure that you achieve all of your goals every single day. That’s how you win the day.
Thanks for riding along!
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