📊 Maximizing Productivity with Diminishing Returns


I am writing this edition of Sunday Morning Rounds on a flight from Phoenix to South Florida as I go to visit my family for the holidays✈️.

This flight is 4+ hours! Usually, I use this time to relax, listen to podcasts, or binge Netflix🍿. This time though, I decided to switch things up and be productive🤨.

And it got me thinking...as wonderful as it is, productivity can only go so far.

What do I mean by that?🤔

Essentially, you can only be productive for a finite period of time before things go bad📉. This is essentially the premise of The Law of Diminishing Returns.

The Law of Diminishing Returns is primarily a term from economics which says that after an certain level of input (or investment) is reached, any additional input will result in smaller increases and eventually even decreases in output.

Still confused? Check out this awesome graph⬇️

So how is this applicable to a medical student or resident?🧑‍⚕️

There are countless examples, but the one that most comes to mind is studying. Medical students and residents quickly become used to studying for long hours in preparation for medical school or boards exams📚. At some point though, these intense study schedules can cause harm.

I remember when my sister was in school she had a three-nod rule: If she was studying and she started to nod off and her face almost hit the book three times (we've all been there!) she would simply stop studying.

I didn't completely understand it at the time, but my sister was brilliantly applying The Law of Diminishing Returns! She was inputting time and attention into studying and was learning the material, but the minute she started to retain less or nothing at all, that was the stopping point🛑.

This can be difficult to put into practice, especially paired with the stress and anxiety of performing well in medical school and beyond😩.

However, if we push ourselves too hard too often with little to show for it, this can be a terrible source of burnout and fatigue😢.

This is one of many examples, but think about how else the Law of Diminishing Returns might apply to you. Is there an area where you have been putting in so much time and effort while getting little in return? What would it look like if you stopped?

Applying these principles could be key in helping you regain time, happiness, and so much more!😸

🗺️ Something I discovered: These Under Desk Cable Management Trays really helped me to organize the disaster of wires I had underneath my standing desk. They were easy to set up, very sensible, and immediately improved the aesthetic of my workspace!

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