Starting Tips for Optimizing Your Schedule
There are 24 hours in each day, but if you wish there were more, you are far from alone.
The demands of running a practice can feel enormous at times, and have a way of expanding to fill any seemingly “empty” hours in your day. And if you want to keep up, you might feel that you’re scrambling and clawing at responsibilities all hours to do so.
It is easy—especially for podiatrists and other medical professionals—to fall into the trap of feeling this is the only way to get things done; that “this is the life they have chosen” and it’s all simply the way of the world.
But this isn’t true. You have important responsibilities to your patients, yes. But you also deserve to have a life. Always being on the run between appointments, paperwork, and other demands is not good for you. Eventually, if burnout sets in, it won’t be good for your patients, either—let alone your family and other loved ones.
There is hope for managing your time and creating a more optimized schedule. We promise! We have access to resources and experts who can help you, but everything always starts with some first steps. Here are a few items to consider when planning a better workday.
Where Does Your Time Currently Go?
When someone is trying to lose weight, one of the first recommendations they often hear is to keep a food diary to account for every calorie they consume. When trying to “gain time” in your day, the same principle applies!
Track how you spend your hours through a week, including both work-related and non-work-related activities. It doesn’t matter whether you use a phone app or good old pen and paper, as long as it is a full and accurate account.
Remember, this is not to be used to show you where you “could be spending more time working.” It’s already pretty well established you are trying to make room for a work-life balance, yes? Let’s keep it that way.
What Are Your Priorities?
You may be surprised how much smoother a day can go when you arrange your tasks by priorities. Tasks you may find yourself taking plenty of time to do can have those expenditures shrink when set at better times for you.
Your patient time is naturally a bit difficult to prioritize, but what about other tasks? Look through your time assessment and identify:
- Which tasks are the ones that absolutely need to be done first?
- Which tasks are the most difficult for you to complete?
These are the tasks you should be scheduling for your earliest and/or most productive times. It can be very tempting to procrastinate on them, but taking them on after you are already mentally or physically tired from the day is also a prime way to bleed out time.
Also, you really can’t underestimate the uplifting feeling of getting something “big” off your plate. You could fill that priority time with stuff that doesn’t need to get done right now, but you know you’re going to be in a dread-filled panic when the eleventh hour strikes and the big things still aren’t done!
Are You Starting Well Right out of the Gate?
If you start your day late, you’ve already put yourself in a hole before anything has even begun!
When considering your office hours, this is extremely important for building patient trust and easier office operations. If you expect your patients to arrive at a certain time, but you or your staff are not prepared to go, then that just isn’t very fair.
You can schedule yourself to perform other work before the office opens; that’s perfectly fine. Just be at the office and be ready before your first patient comes in. Set a good example, and not only will it set your day off on the right foot, but your patients will take notice.
Do You Have to Be the One to Do It All?
Of all our starting suggestions, this one might be the most difficult for many of our podiatrists to swallow.
The old adage of “If you want something done well, do it yourself” can also be a ball and chain for a busy person. Are you spending so much time worrying about getting certain things done that it is affecting both the overall function of your practice and the overall quality of your life? Is there work that may be better handled by a capable assistant?
A reasonable approach to your staff’s time can benefit everyone. Work getting done when it should will mean your office will run much more smoothly overall, and your staff won’t be waiting on you for certain items.
Similarly, do you or your staff need to handle all patient paperwork at the office? By giving new patients access to registration forms before their appointment, you can shave waiting time for both your patients and your staff. You can have printable PDFs on your website, mail forms out to patients, or even go over information on a call.
Set A Better Schedule for You, Your Patients, and Your Staff
It might seem a bit counterintuitive to take time to reorganize your schedule, but the investment is more than worth it. There will always be some hard work involved, but you deserve to both do the things you trained to do and have the time to build and enjoy a life from the fruits of your labors.
If you would like to connect with other podiatrists who have been in your shoes, that’s what the AAPPM is all about! Consider the benefits of a membership as well as connecting with experts at our regular conferences.
If you have further questions, we are happy to help you! Call us at (517) 484-1930 or fill out our online contact form.