After graduating from residency, you’ll probably want to make like Rip Van Winkle and fall asleep for several days (if not years). The time after residency and before the first job of your doctor career is definitely a good time to catch up on rest, but it’s also a good time to do a little “spring cleaning.”

Spring cleaning means different things for different people. For some, it might involve literal cleaning — chasing dust bunnies with a vacuum, clearing out closets, etc. For others, it’s a chance to seek mental clarity. The most thorough spring cleaning sessions are those that accomplish both.

Cleaning isn’t always fun. Sometimes, it’s hard work and it’s downright boring. But, like working out, you always feel better afterwards.

Why do a spring cleaning session before beginning your first job? It’s important to start your doctor career off on the right foot. Distractions, frustrations and clutter (i.e. “dirtyness”) are only going to get in the way of your performance.

Plus, you’re embarking on a new (and incredibly important) chapter of your life. It deserves a little ceremony, don’t you think?

Below are five tips to help simplify your life after residency. Some call for reflection, while others call for action. Challenge yourself to complete them all!

1) Start Your Doctor Career Off Clutter-Free

Clutter takes all sorts of forms. The most obvious is physical clutter. Have a kitchen table stacked with junk mail? A hallway full of mismatched shoes? Welcome to the club: you’ve got clutter in your life.

On the other hand, there’s mental clutter. It’s a little harder to pinpoint, but symptoms include racing thoughts, nagging pessimistic feelings and the sense that you’re constantly forgetting something. Though you can’t buy detergent for your brain at Target, there are ways to combat mental clutter.

Rid your life of as much clutter as you can by doing a “mind dump.” Write down every single thing that’s bothering you or that you’ve been meaning to do. Your list will seem overwhelming at first, but when you break it up into manageable tasks, you’ll feel much better. Even if you only complete some of them, you’ll experience a sense of relief.

2) Let Go of “Shoulds” and Unnecessary Guilt

Much of our guilt is self-imposed. No one makes us feel it but ourselves. So why do we carry so much of it around.

A lot of it has to do with perfectionism, which is a hard habit to kick. Another big part of this self-imposed guilt is our long list of “shoulds.” We always feel like we should be doing things, whether we want to do them or not. A lot of these “shoulds” cram our schedules, leaving little time for the things we love.

Write down all of your “shoulds.” Which ones can you let go of? How would that make you feel? Relieved? Refreshed? Free?

3) Reorganize Your Schedule to Prepare for Your Doctor Career

When you start your first job, your life will be hectic by default. Starting a job is a major change. But a little preparatory work goes a long way.

Sure, you’ll likely have long shifts and unexpected overtime. Even though the schedule of your new job will be a little unpredictable, you can make it easier by planning. Think about your current schedule and how you can adjust it to fit the needs of your new one. Can you start waking up earlier? Or ask your partner to drop the kids off at school? Do as much as you can to alleviate stress on yourself during this period of transition.

4) Make a Budget and Make it Work

Financial planning is absolutely essential for new graduates. Even though you’ll be making a heck of a lot more than you did in residency, you need to spend your money wisely. Check out the Adventures in Medicine Resource Library for an excellent rundown on finance tips for physicians.

5) Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto


“Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto” means “Thank you very much, Mr. Robot,” and that’s exactly what you should be saying to all of the robots that can take time-consuming tasks off your hands.

Automatic bill payment. Roomba vacuum cleaners. Self-cleaning litter boxes. The world is full of awesome robotic inventions that can free up time. Admittedly, some are a little ridiculous. But that makes them more fun.

In addition to freeing up time, delegating tasks to robots can give you a sense of mental peace and clarity. No more worrying about that student loan payment — Mr. Roboto will pay it on time every month if you ask him nicely.

What clutter-clearing, life-simplifying tasks do you plan to embark on before your doctor career?  


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Bothwell Regional Health Center supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Bothwell Regional Health Center is making practice purposeful.