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Part 2 Management Tip #23

Manage Your Time

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Tip 23: Manage Your Time

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
- Peter Drucker

I am definitely going to take a course on time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.
- Louis Boone

Time management can become a perplexing topic. Creating time management systems for a dental practice can be simple or complex. Keep it simple. I've already stated that energy management trumps time management, because without energy it's difficult to focus and get things done anyway. That said, time management is still important to help get things done. The two most important things to include in your time management system are your priorities and your scheduling system. You determine your priorities. After all, it's your practice, your life and your well-being.

Your priorities should be focused on who you want to treat by identifying your ABC clients, and what procedures you want to do to be most effective and enjoy yourself along the way. The who and what are your priorities, and then you must create a scheduling system that makes sense to your entire staff.

Stephen Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, recalls Aesop's fable, the Goose and the Golden Egg. He uses the story of the farmer who realizes that a goose he purchased laid gold eggs. Day after day the goose would deliver a golden egg. The farmer became so impatient that he cut the goose's neck to get all of the eggs out, but instead he just killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. His impatience and greed got the best of him. Covey compared the eggs to "production" and the goose to "production capability." In other words there are certain procedures that give us the opportunity to be most effective. Covey called these procedures PC or production capability procedures. He advised that we keep the P/PC ratio alive instead of killing it like the farmer.

In dentistry we have two systems that are critical PC procedures. I will discuss them in a coming chapter, Tip 25. Covey, in his excellent time management book, First Things First, uses another strong analogy—Big Rocks. He creates a scenario in which you have a jar, some big rocks, some smaller rocks and pebbles and some water. He then asks if you could fit everything into the jar…where would you start? Obviously, by putting the big rocks in first and the water in last…everything would fit in. The analogy is that your most productive work is the big rocks. Which leads to scheduling.

I have always used a color-coded system as my main time management tool. The big rocks (or the most productive procedures) are colored in green. We try to fill in the green time first, followed by the PC time, which is yellow. Production capability comes mostly in the form of the examination. We block off our yellow time and fill it in accordingly. That pretty much takes care of production and production capability. But a practice must also make time for less productive procedures (blue time), as well as for emergencies (red time). Blue time is usually at the end of the day, and red time is usually before lunch or at the end of the day if needed.

Hopefully you can see how good time management can put order to your philosophy and make your life much easier.

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