Dr. Jeffrey A. Gordon | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Gordon

Background:  

The Connecticut State Medical Society is nearly as old as the nation itself. Chartered by the state legislature in 1792, the society has roots that are even older with ancestor associations in Hartford, Litchfield and New London counties going back to America’s colonial period.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Gordon was sworn in as the group’s 178th president at the society’s 224th annual meeting in September. He is a hematology and oncology specialist at the New London Cancer Center. A Woodstock resident, Gordon is the first physician from Windham County to hold the state society presidency in 30 years. He also serves on the Woodstock Planning and Zoning Commission, the Woodstock Agricultural Society and Woodstock Education Foundation.

The Mistake:

Not learning time management when I was in medical school.

When you graduate from medical school and get a real job, you think you can do everything. I had a lot of opportunities for medical staff leadership and many other things. I was very enthusiastic. You realize that the day is 24 hours long and there are seven days in a week but those things are only in the back of your mind. Then one day you realize you’re overextended and need to make changes.

It’s hard to change because habits are ingrained in how people spend their time. I knew I had to learn time management if I was going to be able to focus on patient care and run all the other things in my life.

Time management teaches you the real-world things you need to know.

The Lesson:

I’m fortunate to have wonderful mentors. I spoke to them about time management and they set me on the way to learning it. I started learning in 1999 and have been at it ever since. It’s a life skill and an ongoing learning exercise. The local community college offered a course that was really geared toward business people but I found it very useful. Online courses have also helped. I’ve read a number of books. I’m always trying to get the latest stuff on how to manage better my time.

Time management teaches you the real-world things you need to know. It comes down to prioritizing. You schedule yourself so you’re not overloading but not shortchanging anyone either. It’s not about saying “no” all the time. Instead, it’s “yes, but…” and “thank you.” Some opportunities that I passed on cycled back to me.

I found solutions that enabled me to do more and do things better. My wife is a doctor and she also does time management. She’s been successful with it and it’s helped our life tremendously. We’re teaching our son time management. He tries to make excuses, saying he doesn’t have time for homework. Knowing time management defeats his arguments.

People will struggle with it at the beginning the way I did. If they stick with it they’ll learn to do it well enough to be successful, as I have. And they’ll be able to see and realize more opportunities than they ever had before.

The Connecticut State Medical Society is on Twitter at @CSMSNews.

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email cberman@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's Connecticut.