Are You a Physician Optimist Looking To Simplify in 2022?

by Coach Jill Farmer and Jen Barna MD | Physician Coaching, Physician Wellness, Podcast

Are you a physician optimist who is looking to simplify in 2022, set positive intentions and identify your values so you can thrive in the new year? Watch this!

“High achieving people often feel like they’re being more productive when they pack their schedules tighter. The flaw in that is that when we don’t leave any space in our schedule, we make no space for life to happen.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

In today’s episode, Dr. Jen Barna and Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer talk about ending 2021 and beginning 2022 with your values in mind. We are so thrilled that you tuned in and joined us this year and we want to help you get the new year off on the right foot. Coach Jill would love to see us set positive intentions for the new year and throw out the tradition of making resolutions. In this episode you will find ideas and ways to take stock of all you have accomplished in 2021. You will also find ways of simplifying in the new year, identifying your values, setting boundaries based on those values, and thriving in the new year. We are looking forward to learning and growing with you in 2022! 

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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Please enjoy the full transcript below

Jill: High achieving people often feel like they’re being more productive when they pack their schedules tighter. The flaw in that is that, when we don’t leave any space in our schedule, we make no space for life to happen.


[DocWorking Podcast theme] 


Jill: Hello, and welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Jill Farmer, a lead coach at And today, I want to talk to you about some wonderful ways that you can right now set the stage for a terrific 2022. And joining me in this conversation is Dr. Jen Barna, CEO of DocWorking. One of my favorite conversation partners. And Jen, we were having a little bit of a talk earlier about this idea of the New Year, and how much momentum sometimes that can be behind this idea of resolutions, and doing more, and changing yourself. And among physicians right now, who are already pretty exhausted and overwhelmed, thanks to the plot twist of the last 20 months that we have lived through with COVID and all the other changes that people have been through. 


This idea of making big changes, or resolutions, or that kind of typical New Year start is really sounding exhausting to a lot of folks. So, we talked about ways that we can help our listeners think a little bit differently about some of those ways to launch the New Year. What are your thoughts on that?


Jen: Well, Jill, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you, and thank you so much for all of the coaching that you do, and everything you’re doing to help physicians in our DocWorking Thrive program. It has helped me tremendously and I’m excited to hear your ideas about going into the New Year here. To those who are listening, thank you for being here with us today. So, Jill, you and I were just talking recently about just sort of the overwhelm of the holiday season and the cultural tendency to overbook ourselves. I’m not sure how much of it is learned and how much of it is cultural versus perhaps, personality type. But I would say that, I’m really interested in hearing your ideas on ways to back that up in the New Year. What do you think?


Jill: I love that as an intention. Right. As we’re moving into the New Year. Again, the cultural preset can be, let’s do more, let’s add more things to our calendar. I think a lot of the wisdom teachers if you’re somebody who likes philosophy and thinking through the classics of wisdom teachers through the centuries, one of the things that comes back and all kinds of different traditions is this idea that often less is more. It sounds like a truism, and it’s like, yeah, yeah. But there is so much truth and wisdom in that. It takes some real intentionality to commit yourself to making that shift in your behavior, if you are somebody like a lot of us are and like, certainly, a lot of my physician clients are, that has been used to being rewarded by adding more, and by doing more, and by having a really, really, really packed schedule. 


So, one of the first things that can be a little disheartening for folks who set the intention to try to shift that behavior of piling more on even when they’re feeling overwhelmed is that it feels uncomfortable. So, they think, “Oh, something’s wrong, this feels uncomfortable.” The truth is, that discomfort is a necessary part of making the behavior change. So, even if, you know, metaphorically your back’s about to break because you have so many things piled on in terms of responsibilities, and packed schedule, and pressurizing factors, you might be so used to carrying that much weight and feeling that kind of pain and suffering that when you try to let some of that go, and you feel a different form of discomfort like, “Oh, this feels so strange to not have this burden on me.” For a second, your tendency might be to want to pile it back on again. 


So, that’s one of the first things I like to tell people is, when you’re making a behavior change like committing toward simplification and making things less complicated in an effort to feel less overwhelmed, make some space for a little bit of discomfort to mix metaphors here. It’s a little like, you know, if you’re trying to strengthen a muscle, first couple of times you use that muscle, do that new exercise, it’s going to be a little sore. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It just means we have to get used to that. Can you identify with that or what comes up for you as you hear that?


Jen: Well, it’s a combination of definitely identifying with that and also a tendency to perhaps pile on things really workwise, but things that I enjoy doing. So, I feel like there’s a little bit of a struggle between feeling like, if you have downtime, there’s a self-judgment that that’s lazy or there are so many other things to do. So, like, how can you ever have downtime basically, how do you justify that, I think, that perhaps is the dialogue in the back of my mind?


Jill: Great question. I think a couple of things to note. Number one, high achieving people often feel like they’re being more productive when they pack their schedules tighter. The flaw in that is that, when we don’t leave any space in our schedule, we make no space for life to happen and so we end up in a situation where it’s not an efficiency. It’s actually a giant inefficiency. Because when there’s no space for unexpected things to happen, then, something gets knocked off the schedule or you can’t work within the container of time you actually have to do what you’re doing. So, then, it starts to bleed out or to contaminate time of other things that you have planned. So, there’s a practical perspective for changing the habit of packing your schedule too tight and for leaving some space. And that’s to just become more efficient by making space for things that are there. 


Now, the second point you make, which I think is really the heart of your question is, how do I not feel guilty? If I not only leave space for something else that’s unexpected but just leave space to either do nothing or to just organically let something show up that I might just feel like doing in that time, or doing something that I don’t associate is productive, or checking off a list, or that I don’t get credit for if I do. And that’s a little bit of a deeper question, right? Because that connection that a lot of us have in our culture to busyness and worthiness over time, it’s part of our Spidey-Sense or deeper wisdom starts to say, “Oh, being really busy, and doing more, and checking more things off my list does not make me more worthy than people that are more comfortable just being and letting space in life happen and notice what organically or spontaneously shows up in that time.” So, our wisdom knows that to be true but we have this imprint in our brain that says, “Nope, busy beaver do more being busy,” that makes you worth more busyness and our worth are directly related on the dial. So, you’re right. The question beneath your question is, does that take some untangling and some willingness to be a little uncomfortable until we learn how to sit with some space and what being feels like versus the doing? Yeah, it does. Is it worth it? Yes, it really is worth it. Because there’s something iterative or that’s much more nourishing to us. Once we learn to get comfortable with letting that space, recharge our batteries, refill our tank.


Jen: That makes complete sense. It reminds me of one of our earlier podcasts, I think it was with Lisa Kuzman, leadership coach on our team. She was talking about how she leaves space in her day for things that inevitably come up but are unexpected. I thought that was a brilliant idea, which was not something I had done previously. I tended to just book the day full and then, of course, those things always come up, and then there’s no time, you know, something else has to give, and then you feel like you didn’t accomplish what you were trying to do that day. 


The other thing that I’ve noticed and I’m curious about your advice on this is under booking time. So, I’ll think something’s going to take 10 minutes, when in reality it takes 45 minutes. You do that two or three times a day and that blows your schedule up as well. So, I would love to hear your advice from a time management perspective if possible, and then also just about your advice on how to make room and simplify in terms of scheduling and really moving toward the concept of less is more.


Jill: Two great questions. So, the first one, there’s data that shows that optimistic people tend to be a little bit worse at time management, [laughs] and that’s because of what you talked about that sort of optimistic time blocking. The solution to that is not to become less optimistic. I’m not saying that. It’s to notice the pattern of my behavior. “Oh, yeah. Isn’t it interesting that I want something to take 10 minutes and so I blocked 10 minutes for it, even though I’ve noticed that there’s a pattern that it tends to take 45 minutes?” So, I’m going to get a little uncomfortable because I’d really rather be able to get more things done in less time, take a deep breath, and get just a little uncomfortable, and try blocking not 45 minutes, but an hour for something that I kind of want to block 10 or 15 minutes for and just see if I can speed through it. 


And that takes a minute but ultimately it is much more motivating when you block an hour and something takes 45 minutes or 48 minutes, and then you have 10 minutes to change the channel in your brain, take a break, get a beverage, come back to the next thing then it is to be scheduling something for 10 minutes watching the clock, noticing you’re behind, being distracted, making mistakes, and then never feeling like you’re getting it all done, because you’re on the hamster wheel of always underestimating what’s there. So, there’s real benefit in changing that pattern of behavior. If you’re somebody like a lot of optimists, who tends to underestimate the time. And it’ll take some playing with it. It’s practice. Shoot for 10% better. If you know, right now, everything you schedule, you don’t get completed within the amount of time, try for one out of every 10 things you schedule to get closer to the actual time and over time as you improve 10% at a time, you’ll get better. 


Same thing, I think, is true for the second part of your question, which is, how do I simplify and think about just making more space in my schedule and in the way I’m approaching my life? And I think one of the things that can be helpful is to do the practice of a brain dump, where you just get a piece of paper, it’s helpful to do it in pen and paper, and get onto paper, all the things that are kind of spinning around in your brain that you should be doing, or that you want to do, or that you need to do. Once you get it out of your head and onto paper, that’s a better place for you to calmly, take some deep breaths, get yourself into as calm, clear, and connected state as you can. Looking at it through the lens of really wanting to be deeply rooted in the value of simplicity, clarity, and doing what matters to you most, that’s a better place to edit that list, and to more realistically, focus or distill your energy, your time, your actions, what you do and how you are in the direction of the things that matter to you most.


We know in life that we’re much more satisfied long term, we have an easier time being in relationships with other people, when we’re acting in alignment with our values, which is just another way of saying doing what really matters to us most based on our personalities, our values, how we were raised, etc., etc. So, taking the time to do that makes it easier to say no to the things that are just extraneous, distracting, pulling us in the direction. It helps us to be more driven by our values and less by our egos. And again, back to that first point I made, it’s kind of a little uncomfortable to make that shift and that’s okay. It’s discomfort that brings growth.


Jen: Do you find that physicians who are interested in simplifying and moving in the direction of less is more? Do they need to make big changes in their lives or is it something that they can just tweak a schedule and improve in small ways?


Jill: Great question. The truth of that is a little– I’m not trying to be coy but only about 100% of every physician I’ve worked with wanted to simplify things. As soon as I started making some of those tangible practical solutions to making the simplification happen, they pushed back and resisted. Because there is a lot of conditioning through medical education, through the kind of people who tend to be attracted to medicine toward doing more all the time. So, the truth is, simplifying is simple. It’s just not necessarily easy. So, the solution to simplifying is to do a fewer number of things, so that you can achieve more on those fewer things that matter to you more. 


So, instead of doing all the things and spinning your focus, and your intention, and your direction in so many different ways, when you challenge yourself to distill it down to the things that really matter to you, you can experience often a deeper and richer connection and results in a sense of accomplishment in those things. But the price of admission for that is getting more comfortable with the discomfort of saying no. Leaving space in your schedule and daring to say, this is what really matters to me and I’m going to focus my attention there. 


Jen: That’s mind-boggling advice. I’m going to take that and think about how I can integrate that with my intentions for the New Year. What is your advice to us as a way to approach the New Year?


Jill: So, my final thought for all of you, physicians, is first of all, to pause and to give yourself some credit for the incredible work that you did in the last year. There’s always a tendency to think, “Oh, I should have done more,” and I think if you really sat back and looked at your calendar or even went through your photos on your phone, you might think, “Oh, my gosh, a lot of different things happened this year that I was a part of.” And taking that in first can help focus our energy in the New Year in a more constructive way and less overwhelming way. 


Once you’ve done that, circling back around to that process of do the brain dump, then, edit the brain dump based on the things that matter to you the most, and then, give yourself permission to say, “For the month of January, I’m going to try to experience 10% more, whatever.” Whether that’s sleep, space and peace in your schedule, things that matter to you as a functional human being in a way that lines up to your values. Be kind to yourself and be willing to do things in ridiculously easy steps as you’re moving toward the coming year, and I think you’ll find, you end up in alignment, making progress on things far more than you were if you were trying to make changes, and do all the things in all the ways that some of the old patterns of resolutions, and making changes and New Year direct us to do. 


We love having you as physicians in our audience, we’re so grateful that you take the time to listen in and learn with us, and it is a perfect time for you as a physician to join our Thrive community of physicians. So, please hop over to, discover everything you can about Thrive. You can even schedule a time to ask us any questions you have about it. But we know, Jen and I both do, as well as the rest of the DocWorking coaching team that Thrive is really  just what you need to make 2022 your year. Jen, final thoughts?


Jen: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Jill, and thank you to our audience for being here with us through our first year 2021, and we are so excited for what’s to come in 2022, and we look forward to being here with you on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.




Jill: As a physician, your schedule is packed. There is too much to do and not enough time to do it all. That’s why you need proven time management tools and ideas that can help you get control of your time, help you get more done in less time, and help you make time for the things that really matter to you in your life. You need proven time management skills that have worked for doctors just like you. Plus, you need to learn about these great time ideas on your own schedule, on your own time when it works for you from the comfort of your own home.


Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at and please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.


Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

Board-certified practicing radiologist, founder and CEO of DocWorking, and host of top ranked DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast

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