Table 2

Differentiating tasks by size with descriptions

Size of task (estimated time)DescriptionExamples
Large (>1 h)▸ Require maximal concentration and uninterrupted time
▸ Schedule task during most alert and productive time
▸ Grant application or manuscript writing
▸ Performing bench or clinical research
▸ Curriculum development
▸ Proposal for new clinical activity
Medium (30–60 min)▸ Require concentration
▸ Ideally, should be alert and productive
▸ Clinical documentation (EMR)
▸ Reviewing and editing section of manuscript
▸ Preparing slides for presentation
Small (5–10 min)▸ Require minimal or brief concentration
▸ Schedule during less alert portions of the day or week
▸ Use as a transition between large or medium-sized tasks (create a ‘mental break’)
▸ Returning non-urgent phone calls
▸ Signing discharge summaries
▸ Editing letters of recommendation
Very small (<5 min)▸ Require little concentration
▸ Useful as ‘fill’ time while waiting for meeting to begin or on hold on the telephone
▸ Responding to electronic messages
▸ Opening and sorting paper mail
▸ Routine paperwork
▸ Clinical billing
  • EMR, electronic medical record.