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Work-Life Balance

Procrastinating online? Try this tip

Pocket watches in a bunchEver had the experience of avoiding something you know you should be doing in favor of refreshing your newsfeed or checking your email?

Emily Schwartz, author of The Time Diet: Digestible Time Management, feels your pain. And over at the Fast Company blog she offers a simple suggestion to triumph over those distractions:

Log out of the game/network/email/whatever before you start your important task.

“The extra step of having to enter in your password will buy you enough time to realize that you’re distracting yourself and shouldn’t,” she says. “Distracted work takes far longer than focused work.”

What about you—what’s your secret for keeping yourself focused when it counts? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Working on the Weekend?

Pocket watches in a bunchWhen it comes to work/life balance, one common piece of advice is to avoid working on the weekends whenever possible. But productivity writer and blogger Laura Vanderkam, writing on the Fast Company blog, suggests that work on the weekends might just be the key to a successful work/life balance.

Working on weekends is the flipside of having flexibility during the week, notes Vanderkam. Taking the time during the week to have dinner with your family or attend a child’s event might create a deficit in your number of working hours, and it makes sense to fill that gap over the weekend.

Of course not everyone uses Saturday and Sunday as days off — we’ve chatted with numerous dentists who see patients on one or both of those days. What about you — do you ever take time on your days off to catch up on paperwork or address other work obligations? Leave your answers in the comments.

Fight Decision Fatigue and be More Effective

checklistDoes this scenario sound familiar? At the end of a day full of making decisions and answering questions, someone asks what you want for dinner and you realize I have no idea what I would like to eat for dinner.

The term for this is decision fatigue and it refers to the idea that decision making is like a muscle that can get tired with over-use. Every choice makes you a little less able to make the next choice, until you are unable to decide about supper.

Blogger James Clear has some suggestions about tactics you can implement to fight decision fatigue. Here’s one that attracted our attention:

Plan daily decisions the night before. There will always be decisions that pop up each day that you can’t plan for. That’s fine. It’s just part of life. But for most of us, the decisions that drain us are the ones that we make over and over and over again.  For example, decisions like…What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I go to the dry cleaner before or after work? And so on.

All of those examples can be decided in 3 minutes or less the night before, which means you won’t be wasting your willpower on those choices the next day. Taking time to plan out, simplify, and design the repeated daily decisions will give you more mental space to make the important choices each day.

What about you—how do you keep yourself sharp in the face of countless decisions? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

What is the Accountability System for your Goals?

Pocket watches in a bunchBig dreams are great, but if you don’t create space in your life for making progress toward them, then they’re fantasies, not goals.

That’s a quote from productivity expert Laura Vanderkam who goes on to write:

Build an accountability system–a friend, a group, an app–that will make failure uncomfortable. If you’ve got a run scheduled for Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday morning it’s 25 degrees out and your warm bed seems pretty enticing, what is going to motivate you to get your shoes on and go?

Here’s the thing — if you are a new dentist, chances are you’ve already aced this skill. We continue to be amazed at the level of not just ambition but bona fide accomplishment that new dentists bring to their lives.

So what’s your secret? What kind of system do you have in place so that when the going gets tough you persevere? Give us your answer in the comments.

Want to be more productive? Get the Happiness Advantage

New Dentist Reception

Happiness is hanging out with colleagues

At the Build Network blog, Jeffrey Goldsmith writes about happiness expert and former Harvard researcher Shawn Achor. In the research projects, Achor primes some subjects to be happy (by giving them candy.) The takeaway is that happy people outperform others:

“I can give you an SAT test, a Sudoku puzzle, a crossword puzzle – any of 15 different tasks all requiring intelligence – and prime you to be in a happy group, a neutral group or an unhappy group,” says Achor, citing a study of 65,000 businesspeople. “The happy group will outperform the others every time.”

How can you apply this approach yourself? During one tax season, Achor managed to improve both the happiness and productivity of tax managers at the accounting firm KPMG simply by asking them to do one of these tasks during the workday:

  • Jot down three things you are grateful for
  • Write a positive message to someone in your social support network
  • Meditate at your desk for two minutes
  • Exercise for 10 minutes
  • Take two minutes to write down in a journal the most meaningful experiences of the past 24 hours

How about you — is there anything in your daily routine that contributes positively to your workday? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

You and your 168 Hours

Pocket watches in a bunch

How much time is there?

Ever get the feeling that there just isn’t enough time in your 24-hour day to accomplish everything that needs to get done? While most of us think in terms of the 24-hour day, author Laura Vanderkam suggests that it might be more effective to multiply that day by seven and think instead about the 168 hours available in each week. Over at the Happy Monday blog, Danilo Vargas breaks down the numbers:

Think about it this way:

168 hours minus 56 hours (for sleep) minus 50 hours for work (including a 2-hour commute each day) leaves you with 62 hours to spend however you wish.

And in those 62 hours you can:

  • Spend real quality time with the kids: 7 hours
  • Exercise: 7 hours
  • Household chores: 17.5 hours

And after all that, you’d still have 30.5 hours each week to spend however you see fit.

We don’t know that we’ve ever devoted a full 17.5 hours/week to household chores, but the idea of thinking about time in this way is interesting. In her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Vanderkam suggests that the first step is to log your time so that you can see how you really do use your 168 hours.

What about you? We know that many practice management software programs have time tracking features that provide information about clinical productivity — do you find that information useful? Have you tried similar time-tracking outside of clinic? Share your experiences in the comments.

Bounce Back after Time off

luggage

Am I forgetting anything?

Here’s hoping you had a great long weekend. While we never turn down a day off of work, sometimes extra time away can make it hard to get back into the swing of things.

If that sounds familiar, WikiHow has a list of suggestions for how to overcome the post-vacation blues. One tip involves incorporating some lessons from vacation into everyday life. Here’s one that stuck out for us:

Using the cellphone and the internet a lot less. When you’re traveling, cell phone and internet use soon turn into a case of using it only to keep people informed and to check that nothing untoward has happened. Apart from that, you’re usually not constantly talking or surfing for the sake of it; instead, you’re experiencing the rest of life.

If you are still in the mood for self-improvement, Lifehacker suggests that you use the time after a vacation to evaluate your packing list to reduce the likelihood of over-packing the next time.

Follow the New Dentist Track

Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session

Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session

Let’s face it—planning your CE courses at ADA Annual Session can be a little daunting with over 300 lectures and interactive learning events to choose from. Where do you start?

May we suggest the New Dentist Track? These 21 courses were selected in consultation with the ADA New Dentist Committee, and they cover both clinical and practice management topics.

One course in the track is Here’s How I Did It: Real Talk from New Dentists in Private Practice (Course Code: 5317), a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Chris Salierno. This open-forum course focuses on practice management for the new dentist. Audience members will submit questions from the floor. The course addresses practice management topics such as operations, financial management, marketing and human resources.

Important All courses – even free ones, like Here’s How I Did It – are ticketed and must be reserved through the registration system. Join the conversation; register today.

Use Visualization the Correct Way in order to Build a New Habit

meditate

Use visualization to build a new habit

Perhaps you’ve heard the advice that a good way to increase your likelihood of success is to visualize yourself succeeding. Sure it’s fun to fantasize about winning that award or fitting into those skinny jeans, but is that really increasing your effectiveness at meeting those goals?

Over at the 99u blog, Gregory Ciotti wrote about the role of visualization in building habits that stick. Turns out that fantasizing about results is not very helpful, but visualizing the steps necessary to get those results can make a difference:

Researchers found that those participants who engaged in visualizations that included the process of what needed to be done to achieve the goal (ex: fantasizing about learning another language, by visualizing themselves practicing every day after work) were more likely to stay consistent than their peers (that visualized themselves speaking French on a trip to Paris). The visualization process worked for two reasons:

  • Planning: visualizing the process helped focus attention on the steps needed to reach the goal.
  • Emotion: visualization of individual steps led to reduced anxiety.

 We think a lot about developing habits, especially those that can help patients improve their oral health. Have you had success with coaching patients to adopt healthy habits? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Dentistry and (the Dentist’s) Discomfort—Ergonomics

back or neck pain?

Back or neck pain?

According to data collected at the ADA Health Screening Program at the 2012 Annual Session in San Francisco, 70 percent of dentists and dental team members examined reported neck or back pain. That’s not too surprising considering the positions many dentists adopt when working.

Ergonomics is the science of the physical relationship between you and your environment. It means that you adapt tools and procedures to fit you, rather than adapting yourself to fit the environment. The ADA has a number of tip sheets that suggest ergonomic adaptations to help you implement these approaches.

Looking for more ergonomics resources? Check out the Conference on Dentist Health and Well-Being taking place at the ADA Headquarters in Chicago September 19-20. Conference attendees can attend ergonomics workshops and meet one-on-one with physical therapists.