We’ve all been there. Working hard and putting in more hours, yet at the end of the day we only end up feeling overwhelmed with a to-do list that’s still not completely checked off. Even when we do seem to accomplish everything on the list, the resulting exhaustion makes us question whether it was really worth it. What if you could achieve the same end result but without breaking your back in the process? In most cases, it is possible – provided you are willing to break your inefficient habits and commit to smarter alternatives to getting things done.
If you’d like to know the secret to working smarter, not harder in your veterinary clinic, the following three tips should help you optimize your time once and for all.
Take regular breaks
It may sound counterintuitive to take breaks when you’re juggling an ever-growing to-do list, but if you’re pushing too hard, you risk your work suffering. In reality, if you burn out, you’ll be no good to anyone – not yourself, not your team, and certainly not your clients and patients.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and hitting a wall, give your mind a reprieve by walking away. Not only does taking a breather allow you to recharge and become more productive, but it can help you view problems from different perspectives.
In fact, the body’s natural rhythm, which is related to how long your brain can actively stay focused on a task, works in cycles that are 90 to 120 minutes long. This means you are biologically wired to take regular breaks. Listen to your body. The results will be well worth it in the long run.
Segment your tasks
Constantly checking your email or voicemail can be a huge productivity killer. Even if you happen to be really good at multi-tasking, you’d be surprised at how much time you actually waste when you’re juggling too much at once.
To the contrary, you’ll be far more productive with your time if you segment it based on each activity. For instance, you could designate the first half-hour in the morning or the last half-hour at the end of the day to read and respond to emails. Or, you could designate a window of time right after lunch to listen to voicemails and return calls.
Additionally, when you are working on these or any other task, try to set aside both a time and a place where you won’t be distracted. Being able to focus solely on the activity at hand will enable you to finish things faster, which will help move you through your daily schedule more efficiently.
If you can’t close your office door, try donning a pair of headphones and let staff members know that when they see you with those on, they are not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
Last, but not least, you should know when it’s time to hand some of your tasks off to others within the practice. Could you do everything? Sure. Should you? Of course not. That’s why you hired capable, competent staff in the first place, isn’t it?
Make a list of everything you need to get done and then prioritize it. From there, select the various items that could be handled by someone else on your team that you trust and then pass the torch.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to micromanage. Show your staff that you trust and believe in them and they will repay you tenfold by excelling in their positions. Provide guidance, but give them wings to fly. As a result, they will feel more confident, everything will get done and you will be freed up to focus on other, more important business initiatives, such as increasing revenue and growing your practice.
Running a successful veterinary practice doesn’t have to mean working yourself into the ground. Finding ways to work smarter and eliminating those tasks and habits that are holding you back will ensure maximum efficiency, productivity and, most importantly, profitability.