Yesterday was a big day in my office: we grew! More precisely, "we" had grown over the course of a couple of years from five docs to seven, without adding any office space. Quarters were tight, and everyone's office hours were cut back so that we could share the exam rooms. Yesterday our physical space grew. And I was the lucky girl who got to work in that space.
You realize at times like this that you take for granted the systems you have in place. Where does the medical assistant put charts to indicate that a patient is roomed and ready? Which computer do I use? How do I call my assistant in to help with an exam (for now, it's just a shout out the door, so I'm a bit hoarse from screaming, "ANGELA!!!" all day long--it turns out the new office space is quite large)? And I got quite a workout running back to the main office to gather all the little things that I use throughout the day. Then there was the grumpy guy putting in the phone lines who was yelling at his assistants too.
All of this led to some serious mental chaos. This was my "desk" AFTER cleaning up. Note the open purse spilling all over the place, charts strewn about, the stool that is way too low for the counter height.
I couldn't wait for the day to end, but if you look, you can almost always find something positive amid the madness. I see at least four lessons in all of this that definitely apply to real life.
1. Messes slow mental function and disrupt concentration. Have you ever seen your kid over-stimulated? If not, you haven't been paying attention! We try to stick to one big rule in our house: before you get out a new toy, you put the last one away. We don't always stick to it, but I've noticed the less mess on the floor, the less frantic the boy's behavior. This rule applies other places as well. For example, the fewer morsels of food we put on his plate at a time, the more he eats in the long run. Simple, calm, and tidy always gets us better results.
2. We all thrive on routine. I definitely felt out-of-whack yesterday. Today back in my normal environment (the docs in the office rotate between different work areas), I'm back on track. Yesterday one of my patients commented that she has been stressed out because her grandsons, ages six and seven, have recently moved in with her and they are "bad kids." They've never had a stable home and haven't been taught basic manners and rules. Children need consistency to learn and grow. My least favorite part of parenthood is having to enforce the rules I've made, but it is vitally important. Rules and expectations make kids feel respected and loved. Likewise, never underestimate the value of a bedtime routine, meal schedule, or reading and re-reading a favorite book. Having a rules and a system for things is comforting.
3. Change is hard, even when it's a change for the better. For me, more office space means more time available to see patients, which in turn means that I can schedule more down-time into my day. This is all good. But living through the change is difficult. You might even mourn the loss of the old way a little--I definitely felt that way yesterday. This is true whether the change is a new exercise program or a new bedtime routine. It's important to acknowledge the difficulty but also remember why you made the change in the first place. Sometimes you have to work to get the life you want.
4. Change is exciting. Despite all of the stress and frustration, part of me can't wait to work in that part of the office again. It's new and different and interesting. It reminds me of the excitement we had as kids eating breakfast for dinner or spending the night in our sleeping bags on the family room floor rather than in bed. You've got to balance the routine with the thrill of the unexpected!