Dentists today face increased competition, demanding patients and rapid technological advances. All of this can add up to working too many hours, leaving you little time for friends, family or simply recharging your batteries. That’s the road to burnout.
How can you establish better boundaries and maintain a healthy work-life balance? The following tips will help.
1. Track your time
The average dentist spends 36 hours per week in their practice, of which 33 hours are spent with patients. Efficient scheduling can help you maintain the same production levels in less time. This helps you avoid long hours and reduces employee overtime, saving your practice money. Your front desk staff and clinical team will also feel less stressed when the office is running smoothly.
Start by tracking exactly how you spend your time for two weeks. Every 15 minutes, note what you’re doing. How much time is spent with patients, with staff, or on paperwork?
At the end of two weeks, look over your time journal to get an honest picture of what you're doing all day. You’ll probably find more wasted time than you think. For example, do you have too much downtime between patients? Are staff meetings dragging on longer than they need to?
Once you see how much time is being wasted, you’ll know how much time you could potentially use on productive tasks or personal goals such as exercising regularly or spending time with your family. Focusing on the rewards you'll get from better work-life balance will motivate you to take action.
2. Let it go
Many dentists are perfectionists by nature and reluctant to delegate duties. For example, you do need to oversee the big picture of your marketing strategy and activities, but you don't need to get into the weeds of that day’s Facebook posts or the best keywords for online ads. Leave those tasks to your team so you can focus on patients. Lighthouse 360 simplifies marketing for your office staff so they can save time, too.
3. Block it out
Plan your schedule in blocks of time. Balance out short procedures with more complex ones. A day full of short procedures requires more transitions between patients, creating more opportunities for delay. For better results, block out time for highly productive, longer procedures first. Schedule procedures such as exams or adjustments around these longer appointments.
4. Emergency situations
Dental emergencies that occur after hours or on weekends are an inevitable part of dental practice, but can really throw off your work-life balance. Gain more control over your time by setting specific hours for emergency treatments.
For example, leave a certain amount of time each weekday open for emergencies or fitting in new patients. On weekends, block off emergency time between 3 and 5 PM, or whatever hours fit with your schedule. Some 56% of dentists work solo, but if you're lucky enough to have multiple dentists in your office, each can commit to handling emergencies on specific days. That way, everyone knows when they need to be on call and when they are free.
5. Treat yourself
Once your office schedule is established, schedule in some personal time, too, and treat those appointments as seriously as you would patient appointments. Do you want to meet friends for tennis every Sunday morning, or get home in time for dinner with your family at least three nights a week? Put those events on your calendar and don't let anything interrupt them.
6. Tap into technology
Your patients have busy lives, too. Use technology to help ensure they keep their appointments—and keep your schedule on track. Using Lighthouse 360, your team can send patients automatic appointment reminders by email, text, or phone call, and receive confirmations directly to your PMS.
Lighthouse 360 even helps your front desk stay on track by automatically creating task lists with "smart recommendations" every morning. When they get to work, front desk employees know exactly what to focus on.
Get more smart scheduling tips.