As a dental professional, you can easily feel overwhelmed and overworked. This is especially true for those who are new to the job.
You’ve heard it million times: TIME IS OUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET, but…
…You are constantly running against the clock, dealing with so many things on your way: patients, crying children with difficult parents, colleagues, long working hours, multitasking. You try so hard, push yourself to the limits, but can’t handle all the workload – the time just flies.
And when you come home, you feel so tired that the only thing you can do is to sleep.
However, your working hours can be much more efficient if you can manage your time.
Yes, being able to manage the hours of your day is an essential skill set for your success. It helps to:
- decrease stress
- increase productivity
- improve well-being
- give better patient care
- enhance job satisfaction
- avoid potential burnout
- promote career sustainability
- do things you enjoy when your workday is officially over
Despite the importance of having good time management skills for dentists and hygienists, it is not usually emphasized enough in undergraduate and graduate education curricula.
To give you a hand and relieve the tension, let’s talk about the main principles, tactics, and tools that can help you manage your work time as well as to do many other enjoyable things after you leave your office:
7 Best Time Management Tips That Actually Work
Before we start,
There is one thing you should always bear in mind: YOUR TIME IS 100% IN YOUR CONTROL.
Each time you’re tempted with the phrase «I don’t have time to…», remember that your time belongs to you. What you’re doing now is exactly what you most want to be doing, what your main priority is.
Bring to life these 7 proven ways to manage your time at work to uncover several extra hours in a day and a huge flow of energy in yourself:
- Set Your Priorities: Decision Matrix
As a dentist, you definitely know how it feels when your to-do list is filled to the rafters and you can’t decide what to do first. Yes, everything is important in healthcare. But not equally important.
All you need is to prioritize all your tasks and divide them into 4 categories:
- Urgent and Important
- Urgent but Not Important
- Not Urgent but Important
- Not Urgent and Not Important
Use this type of grid system for your daily tasks and do them in the order from 1 to 4.
- 80/20 Efficiency Rule
Also called a Pareto Principle, this rule says: «For most things in life, 80% of the results come from 20% of the inputs.»
This technique can be applied in several ways:
- Tasks at work: according to this principle, 80% of your productivity can be achieved by doing 20% of the task. Out of 10 tasks, you need to focus on 2 most important and most urgent (which follows from the decision matrix) – don’t feel guilty spending 80% of your time doing these 2 tasks, as they eventually make up 80% of your productivity, while the remaining 8 tasks can surprisingly be done during the rest 20% of the time.
- Extra activities you’d like to do: In order to keep productive at work, every doctor needs to have a hobby and some free time to do it. Pareto Principle says: «Many things are much easier to learn than they seem.» It means that you can make 20% of your efforts to play 80% of songs on your guitar.
- Learn To Say NO
As a dentist or a hygienist, you must be realistic about the workload you’re able to cope with and agree to take on new patients only if you have enough time and energy for this.
Remember that a lack of focus and excessive workload can cost people’s health.
Moreover, if you can push back constructively and politely, your colleagues will respect you and your time.
- Use Parkinson’s Law
It says: «Work expands to fill the time that we allocate to it.»
When you’ve got a deadline coming up tomorrow, you can do a lot of work. If you’ve got 2 months to do the task, you’re likely to procrastinate and do all the work the night before the deadline.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time limits at work, try setting up your own deadlines.
It will significantly increase your productivity as well as your patients’ satisfaction.
Bonus tip: If a task can be done for 2 minutes, do it NOW!
- Team Work & Delegation
Delegate everything you can – nobody can survive in healthcare without teamwork.
Interns, dental assistants… there are people who are there when extra help is necessary – take advantage of their help.
- Apply Technologies
Learn to use various software technology systems to manage your time and work more effectively. Electronic health records will simplify your work, cutting down on paperwork and storing all the necessary information about the patients.
- Establish SMART Goals
Know exactly what your task for the day is. Make sure that everything on your agenda is SMART:
Don’t forget to write them down.
And now… come on, choose the tips which work best for you, apply the techniques every day, and be a master of your own time.
About the Author
Vicki Mozo is an editor of https://www.biologyonline.com/. Being a researcher by nature, writer by passion, she is happy to share her life experience and professional knowledge with the people around her.