Episode 54: How to work more flexibly, without the stress

Whether your priorities or interests have changed, or COVID restrictions have forced flexible working upon you there are a number of steps you can take to make the most of working flexibly

In this week’s episode, Rachel and Dr Surina Chibber share what they have learnt from years of flexible working to help you:

Ditch the guilt.

Discover your true north in your decision making.

Give yourself a break and thrive in this way of working.

Surina is a portfolio GP and co-founder of My Locum Manager which specifically helps GPs manage the tasks that come with flexible working more easily. She likes to ask ’how do you equip a workforce to work in a way that they love, and make career choices that are sustainable for the profession as a whole?’

There are a lot of reasons people choose to explore flexible working, from embarking on parenthood to career diversification. Surina reminds us that flexible working can be great, but will increase stress as a result if you’re not well prepared. 

Working across a number of roles may require you to take on additional tasks such as marketing, tax returns, administration or professional training. When your working week starts to overwhelm you, it can be really useful to write a ‘to-be’ list instead of a ‘to-do’ list to check that what you’re doing corresponds with your life desires and values.

As professionals we are commonly over-committing ourselves, often making time for things we don’t want to do, but have to do. And be careful of those ‘ought to-do’s’. These are the creeping comparisons we make with others, such as routinely staying late, that sabotage our time and value planning.

Surina reminds us to be in the moment instead of focusing on “I’ll be happy when…”

Sometimes your time spent doing what you love creates a return on investment that you didn’t expect. Remember, the journey is the reward.

By looking at what it is you want to achieve from flexible working, you can plan your time and resources to work towards this successfully and happily. One of the best things both Rachel and Surina advocate is getting a coach or mentor (or several!) to learn from and guide you to success.

Their top tips are:


  • Understand what you enjoy.
  • Set boundaries over what is your work time and what your working week looks like.
  • Surround yourself with people who are doing different things in their space, learn from them.


  • Get the help that you need and pay for it if necessary!
  • Ditch the guilt.
  • Do fewer things but better.

Our Stop, Start, Continue checklist can offer you some great personal insights to help you define what you’re enjoying right now and where to start when looking at how to find more of that in your life.

Download our Stop Start Continue Checklist Toolkit

Podcast links

Sign up here to receive a link to the CPD form downloads for each podcast which you can use for reflection and to submit for your appraisal. 

You can get Surina’s popular e-book from MyLocumManager for locum GPs here

You can also join the Shapes Collective Facebook group where we chat about the hot topics and regularly post interesting articles 

24 hour support for NHS staff: Call 0300 131 7000 between 7am and 11pm or text FRONTLINE to 85258 24/7.

BMA Wellbeing Service 

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme 

Contact Rachel 

LinkedIn @Dr-Rachel-lMorris 

Twitter @DrRachelMorris



My Locum Manager is a powerful platform for GPs who work flexibly.  Sign up for a free trial.

Other Podcasts

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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