Reactive and creative spaces
Manage the busy stuff to make space for what matters
Good morning. I hope everyone is having a great start to 2023. No cliche resolutions here, just a commitment to make more good stuff in the new year. In this spirit of productivity, I have a few thoughts on how I view my day and my time — a kind of a big picture view of how I see my world.
When I look at my day there are 2 spaces that occupy my time.
The first is my creative space. This is where I make things that didn’t exist before. Ideas, programs, writing, newsletters, broad strategy, new presentations and initiatives.
Next is my reactive space. This is the operational part of my day. Most of this time is centered on problems or emerging issues. Something arises and I react to it. This includes emails, meetings, phone calls, medical license renewal, administrative crises and other practical concerns. Reactive work isn’t trivial or less important, it’s just different.
Clinical medicine, by its nature, is reactive. Patients have signs, symptoms and deviations in their health. I respond to right, or manage, what seems to be wrong. But medicine can and should involve creative work, however. Great medical leadership, for sure, calls for attention to stuff beyond operations.
I’m always in one of these two spaces. Never in between. Every day’s a struggle between the two. If I’m inefficient in my reactive space then I effectively lose the capacity to make things. So I have to get my reactive work done before I can raise my gaze to bigger, broader things.
For those looking to make a mark or move the chains, the challenge is managing and containing the reactive space to make time for the hard work.
As the hospital moves to open in 6 weeks, I’m overrun with reactive things. It’s the nature of my work. I believe that being involved in making things is one of the key antidotes to burnout. Thinking like this is the stuff that feeds me. So I have to make time for it.
This is a revised edition of a post I did in 2016. Hopefully it offers insight on how you might see your world a little differently. As I would like to grow this subscriber list it would be hugely helpful if you could share some of these letters, or recommend a friend to subscribe.
Image via Flickr | University of Liverpool | Upper skeleton from Andrew Bell’s Anatomia Britannica (1770s-1780s)