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The Productivity Problem: Five Ways to Find Peace & Measure Success Without Checkboxes

If you know me at all, you know I find a lot of pride in getting stuff done. In fact, I’m typing this post out on my phone as I lie on the beach with a husband who reminds me that vacations are supposed to be for relaxing!

There’s no feeling like getting to the end of the day and ticking off my checkboxes, one by one — proof that I have accomplished what I had set out to do. At home: laundry’s done, meals are prepped, bills are paid, house is cleaned. These are neat checkboxes with a clear ending point — the laundry is either done or not done.

The problem I have always come across is completing checkboxes as a pediatric music therapist. Sure, there are some checkboxes that are neat and simple: Have I replied to that email? Have I cleaned my instruments? Have I finished attesting my intern’s notes? Check, check, check. However, there are some tasks that elude my perfect square checkboxes. Unfortunately patient care — working with people in all their complexities — doesn’t fit into these perfectly drawn squares.

This problem is two-fold. First, there are the difficulties that accompany FINDING and actually physically seeing the patient. There are many days where my top priority patients are asleep… then involved with another provider… then sedated for a scan... then inevitably sleeping again, thus completing the maddening circle. I find this incredibly frustrating as I trudge up the stairs again, thinking to myself, why can’t I just check