Big 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
How do you recharge during lunch?
For starters, we’re assuming that you have blocked off a chunk of time between patients so that you can get a bite to eat. In addition to eating, what do you do with that time? Catch up on paperwork? Chat with a friend? Run some errands?
For productivity expert Bob Pozen, the efficiency gained by eating at your desk might not be worth it if you could gain even more by stepping away. Fast Company blogged about Pozen’s ideas for how to maximize the value of a lunch break:
You could eat alone — perhaps away from a screen. Pozen says that since you’ll sometimes have a very full day, eating alone can help you restore your personal resources. And don’t pull out your phone: An absence of stimulation encourages associative or integrative thought, spurring your creativity. As well, if you have an idea that you’re working on in your head, eating alone allows you to continue uninterrupted.
Pozen goes on to say that every individual is different—maybe you would benefit from some exercise or a brief nap (that last option sounds especially appealing)—so it’s smart to experiment with the lunch break that gives you the biggest bang for your buck and leaves you best-prepared for the afternoon.
Any suggestions for using lunch to make the afternoon as effective as the morning? Leave your answers in the comments.
Dr. Tisha Rekhi enjoying a vacation in San Diego
The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.
Who are you? I’m Dr. Tisha Rekhi. I’m a member of the Class of 2011 of the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. I’m an associate dentist working for my older brother — Dr. Princy Rekhi — who is the owner-dentist of a three-location practice here in the Greater Seattle area.
Was your plan always to practice with your brother? Absolutely yes! I’m fortunate to have such an awesome relationship with my brother. He really helped me with that transition from thinking like a student to thinking like a working dentist.
Talk a little bit about that transition You know in school I can remember having a patient who needed two restorations and I would do the procedures in two appointments with each restoration taking like three hours. And that’s not how it goes in the real world. We use different materials than we used in school, I’m working with a chairside assistant now, and that’s not like being a student. I feel like my brother was patient with my learning curve. If I have a problem or question all I have to do is ask and he’s there for me.
That sounds very harmonious Well it took us a little while to get there! I have my own house and my brother has his own house but most of the time we end up having dinner at our parents’ house (it’s a cultural thing—we’re Indian.) He and I would bicker and our parents said, look you can’t stress each other out at work and at home. If you are going to practice dentistry with someone in your family you have to work on those boundaries between work life and home life.
What’s your schedule like? Like I said there are three locations, so I work at #1 on Mondays and Fridays, #2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and #3 on Wednesdays. Basically I need to pay close attention to what day of the week it is because if I let my mind wander while I’m driving I’ll end up at the wrong location!
Any recommendations for someone in your shoes? Having a great dental team makes all the difference. You are going to be spending a lot of time together so it’s important to enjoy one another’s company. I truly enjoy going to work every day, and I know not everybody is lucky enough to be able to say that!
Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s an ever-changing quest
Marc Barros is an entrepreneur and a surfer and he compares those two endeavors over at his eponymous blog:
Building a great company or being an amazing surfer isn’t like playing a team sport. There is no trophy you walk away with or a championship you can try for again if you lose. There isn’t a fixed time you play or rules that define how the game is played. It’s an ever changing quest that has no timeline and no clear definition of victory. And the only thing that tells you if you are improving is how you feel.
This reminded us of a conversation we had recently with a new dentist fresh out of school. It wasn’t that dental school had been easy, far from it, but the challenges were clearly and narrowly defined. Life as a new dentist had so many more variables, and sometimes it was hard to answer the question is this going well?
Above Marc Barros asserts that the only thing that tells you if you are improving is how you feel. Would you say that is very true? Completely wrong? Somewhere in-between? Tell us how you feel about it in the comments.