Book Reviews life Parenting Reading

A Few Things

April 6, 2021

1- Annabel turned 9! OMG.

sorry for the odd-shaped photo, I had to crop out her BFF! But I love her smile here.

We celebrated by hosting her first sleepover (just her one BFF – that was enough!), eating DQ Reese’s ice cream cake, and giving her several fun gifts: earrings, a Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 (she wanted one!), and a 3D Pen.

Hopefully I will have an eventual interview video to share. Our attempt last night failed. Haha.

2- I am almost finished with this book, and I think it’s definitely worth reading:

I found many of his points very relevant to my current job (jobs?) and want to try a lot of what he suggests, including implementing office hours, better task management organization for work, more agile-inspired methodologies, and generally less “hyperactive hive mind” workflow (I find that phrase VERY fitting and descriptive — nice job Cal!).

By the way, the EPIC Staff Messaging / Patient Message has turned into another form of email and it is OUT.OF.HAND. So this doesn’t just apply to my non-clinical job. And the dumping of administrative tasks onto skilled professionals is an absolute reality. One that really sucks.

3- Q2 officially begins today! Spring break is now over and G&C are back in school (A has been back for a week already). I’m very much looking forward to next year when all will have the same schedule again (A will be moving to their school next year which I have mixed feeling about — but a major part of our decision-making was the logistics!).

I kicked off this transition by moving entirely into a new planner and so far I’m very happy. Hopefully there to stay for the rest of 2021, but who knows . . .

Off to run!


  • Reply Tamara Cohen April 6, 2021 at 6:58 am

    As an upholder myself, I am curious as to if it “bothers you” to switch planners and not have all of the backlogged pages? What I mean is, that at the end of the year, I like looking back and seeing a full planner with lots crossed out and I can see how much I have done. I think it would really bother me to switch to a new planner and be missing all of the information from previous months. Do you experience this?

    • Reply Katie April 6, 2021 at 7:35 am

      I’ve been curious about this too, but more that I would have a really hard time keeping things straight if I switched planners!

  • Reply CBS April 6, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Oh gosh, that’s a big change for A. Is she looking forward to it?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 9:56 am

      I know 🙁 She really is though! I think since the pandemic disrupted so much anyway, it left us more open to the idea of changing things up. We gave her the choice (she toured the school) and she wanted to go for it though. Hopefully no more changes for a while (this school goes until 8th grade, so it’s possible things could be stable for quite some time!).

  • Reply Natalie April 6, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Excited to here what planner you are using now!

  • Reply Keren April 6, 2021 at 10:14 am

    What’s a 3D pen?

  • Reply KGC April 6, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I’m curious as to your mixed feelings about A moving to C+G’s school – if you’re willing to elaborate? Am I correct that this will be a move from public to private school? We live in what I believe is an excellent school district (others may disagree) but interestingly, ALL of the people on our street with older kids chose to send them to private school instead of staying local/public. I haven’t really dug into why, though I probably should. My son will start kinder this fall at the local public elementary and we really haven’t given it a second thought but I’d love to hear your reasoning and decision-making process for making the switch for your family.

    That being said, this may get too into kid-privacy territory, so maybe not something you’re willing to share!

    • Reply Lori C April 8, 2021 at 7:45 am

      same here!!! Everyone in my area sends to private but my son will be going to public K in the fall. I listen to the Integrated Schools podcast which I LOVE and I am always interested in hearing rationale. Some of my friends have said its for the religious education aspect, or better sports programs, etc.

  • Reply Teresa April 6, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Just a word of caution about changing schools for logistical reasons. We did this and felt like we were choosing between 2 excellent options although we knew very little about our alternative (only reputation and other family recommendations) and the school they were in was almost perfect. It totally backfired and created many more problems than it solved. I hope it works out better for you guys!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 11:42 am

      Agh – that does make me nervous! But I guess we could always switch back.

      • Reply Laura O April 8, 2021 at 1:05 pm

        There’s always a risk that a big change won’t work. I don’t think you have to worry too much about changing schools. You already send two kids there so you already have personal experience with the school, plus you allowed A to tour and have input on the decision.

  • Reply Kathryn K. April 6, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Just a note, and this may be just me, and maybe this is Newport’s phrasing and not yours, but “And the dumping of administrative tasks onto skilled professionals is an absolute reality. One that really sucks.” rubbed me the wrong way a bit.

    On one hand I know what you mean, but the other hand – the people that deal with the admin stuff aren’t skilled professionals themselves in their own jobs? Maybe this is also a reaction to my mom dealing with a serious medical condition currently and there are so many layers of admin between the doctors and the patients it was difficult to do something as simple as get a call back from a doctor’s office in without multiple days/attempts being made.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 11:41 am

      This is what I mean by that: I should not be the main point of contact for someone that needs a lab order re-printed out (one that I’ve already entered) and emailed to them. This is a common request that often goes directly to my inbox because it’s hard for patients to navigate the system. TOTALLY not their fault! Just not a good system.

      If I am doing that kind of thing all day (or even having to field messages about that to other people all day), that is less time for important patient conversations, medical decision making, etc. If your mom had a question for the physician, I would so hope for that question to get quickly routed to the doctor and answered via a phone call from the doctor. But if it’s buried in the MD’s inbox with 385738473 other things many of which do not require a physician to do, the response time will be slower. I think what we have is a triage problem. And it is terrible on the patient end too!

      I did not mean to imply that our medical assistants are UNskilled in any way, but it definitely requires far far less training than say a nurse or a physician.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 11:45 am

      And yes – it was Newport’s terminology (he differentiates between “skilled professionals” and support staff.)

    • Reply Katie April 7, 2021 at 8:26 am

      In healthcare, the term “skilled care” (provided by a licensed provider) often comes up. I’m not sure about cal Newport, but I didn’t think anything of Sarah writing it because of that. It’s not about someone being better than someone else or a task being beneath them – it’s that certain people are the only one who can do a task (skilled) so they should have minimal other tasks on their plate to maximize time with patients (which I’d love to say is quality care but in most health systems it’s also just $$)

  • Reply Tierney April 6, 2021 at 11:39 am

    It is economically inefficient to have doctors function as their own administrative assistants- routine messages, time cards, etc. So while every member of the team adds value, it is a fact that doctor’s time is more valuable from a monetary standpoint. And it’s becoming way more common by appealing to doctors beneficence and by saying it’s just a small amount of time. But it adds up.

    Another inefficiency is dealing with ineffective office communication when you’re a patient or family member. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.

    • Reply Kathryn K. April 6, 2021 at 11:48 am

      Hi Tierney – I am an engineer and have worked making manufacturing lines more efficient (down to using stop watches for time studies) so I am well aware of the efficiency advantages to be gained by a worker doing the tasks for which they offer the most value add. It was more the phrasing to which I objected in this case.

      And most professionals are expected to function as their own admins these days – not saying that’s a good idea, just that it very commonly is the case for doctors and non-doctors alike.

    • Reply Kathryn K. April 6, 2021 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks for your response, Sarah. I agree that a physician’s time is best spent on tasks that specifically require their level of training.

      My concern from the outside looking in at the medical system through the lens of mom’s experiences: is anyone actually measuring or checking that these systems/processes are working as intended? For example, regarding the lab order issue you mentioned, do you know if there is anyone in your organization addressing that? (Guessing this may be to related to an off-the-shelf software that is difficult to get changed, but for example, a simple tutorial could be put on your system’s website to explain to patients what they need to do to get the order.)

      And knowing that is Cal Newport’s phrasing makes me even less likely to read anything by him than I already was.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 12:34 pm

        Hi! Great question – I think that to some extent yes but it of course varies on the organization. But COVID-19 has caused a lot of flux in staffing at a lot of places and I think more things are falling through these kind of cracks. I think having an administrative assistant (ie, a medical assistant) be the first line of triage can be really really helpful. They should have adequate time to address non-urgent tasks as they come in and to make sure physicians are assigned tasks that they are needed for. I recognize that not every field needs this as you mentioned, but I think that some (including most types of medicine) still really do.

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly April 6, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you for your comments about puberty on the latest BOBW episode. My older daughter just turned 9 so it’s been on my mind.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 2:15 pm

      Aww thank you! Glad to offer my knowledge in that area (just not specific medical advice of course 🙂 )

      • Reply CBS April 7, 2021 at 2:43 am

        It was a really fascinating combination. I know you can’t share too many details but the general discussion was really fascinating. I know it is controversial, and you don’t want to invite trolls but I wonder if you could talk a bit more about your gender therapy work, if you ever feel comfortable doing so.

  • Reply Colleen April 6, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Eeek agree with the Epic messaging! I loved it at first to quickly talk to team members, but now am getting more and more messages and get distracted by the notifications when I’m entering orders and completing other time sensitive tasks. And the “seen” feature stresses me out ha!

  • Reply Laura April 6, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Are you officially in the Day Designer now?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 6, 2021 at 5:28 pm

      Yes … and an EC weekly! I know, slightly insane. But I just wanted more room to not write so tiny …

      • Reply Grateful Kae April 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm

        Definitely need more information on this planner change! This kind of blows my mind, actually. I can’t IMAGINE wanting to change planners after one quarter!!! omg!! Hahaha. You converted me to the Wonderland and it took me a while to get all used to it, get situated, comfy, etc with it. Now I love it and there’s no way would I switch now! lol. In fact, I will probably use this planner for the rest of my life. Hahahaha. (Not actually joking….I do not love change. 🙂 I have a whole journaling system down using the notebook, and my planning stuff goes in the planner…overall, I love the system!

      • Reply The Evely Pack April 8, 2021 at 8:36 am

        oh wow both! day designer AND erin condren! i’m so intrigued i can’t wait to hear about this!!! i can relate to grateful kae about the wonderland – after you converted me – and it was the type of planner i thought i could NEVER enjoy – i absolutely LOVE it now, and can’t imagine ever changing!!! i mean, i do like change, but this planning system literally has room for ALL THE THINGS in my life!!! in one specific portable place! i’m in love, and have you to thank, and it has been a REALLY big deal to have this kind of system in my life! Our life is literal chaos it feels like with special needs children and 5 appointments/wk *at minimum* has made even covid life a hustle and bustle of activity that has been challenging to organize!!! and oh the tomoe river paper… i could write in it all day long!!! i’ve also utilized the thin hobonichi accessory book as my “junk” notebook – which is SO helpful to keep all my random notes from hour to hour in one efficient place! i can reference them instead of losing them! it’s fantabulous!!! all that to say it’s been so fun following my planner guru and i’m excited to hear all about your new adventures in planning! 🙂

  • Reply Lori C April 8, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Sarah, I was craving a planner change, so I just ordered a Hobonichi Avec from Ebay and put my Wonderland 222 on the shelf. I was missing my old layout, even though they are similar!

    I would love to hear about the school decision. We have had two in private Montessori but my oldest is starting public kindergarten in the fall. I know moving C and now A back has a big financial hit, so would love to hear about it from the financial side of things (philosophically I am sure you have your reasons). The money factor has been in the back of my head and I am somewhat counting down the days until both of mine are in public and my tax dollars are going to use (without added tuition)! Would like to hear how you shifted things around to accommodate. Less savings? Lower allowance (I hope not)?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 8, 2021 at 2:19 pm

      Hmm, that’s a great question. I guess truthfully we spent so many years paying at least 2 school tuitions of some time that it doesn’t feel like a huge change. It happens to be somewhat reasonable as far as private school pricing goes (there are some in our area that cost nearly double).

      Honestly, a) I am planning going back to 1.0 FTE at work, so that’s some of the $ and b) our cost of living is significantly less than Miami Beach so we feel like it’s doable while still saving quite a bit.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.