Back to the future

July 8, 2022- By Steven E. Greer, MD

I have long had a good organizational system using my desktop computer and Microsoft Outlook. Peers around me in big workplaces have emulated it.

However, this year, when I had to take care of my father, which was a 24/7 job, and then also had to manage multiple other tasks, my old method was falling apart. I would stare at the computer screen and it would just not register. It was going in one ear and out the other. I was overwhelmed

So, I had to go to a brand new technology called paper. I bought a bunch of yellow sticky notepads and put down a handwritten to-do list each day. I could handle it and visualize it, unlike a computer screen. I crossed off accomplished jobs but could still see what I had done. It helped me deal with complex issues because I could put different categories of tasks to do on the same page.

Now, instead of my old computer method, I am writing it down. I still use a computer to remind me of upcoming matters, but my daily list is on paper.

It is all fascinating to me because I learned these organizational skills during surgery residency. We had very effective methods of writing down the hundreds of scut-list things to do. We did it all on paper. We used the same method that was passed down from one generation to the other in surgery.

If you look in the white-coat pockets of a surgery resident, you will find this very same method used still to this day. It is more sophisticated than any software anyone has developed yet.

Without realizing it, I had to revert back to my scut-list methods of 1996 to handle my father in 2022. Back to the future.

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