For new dentists, time management will be a constant work in progress
Believe it or not, as dentists we fall into the “very lucky” group when it comes to time management.
While no two dentists may have the same schedule, many of us have custom schedules that work for us. Some can work any of the seven days, and others as much as we want. Some of us also have the luxury of building our own teams and working with those whom we hand pick. Another luxury we have is the ability to delegate, whether it is the back office, the dentistry we do, or both!
Of course there are many burdensome aspects to the profession as well, but in many ways we have a great amount of flexibility.
When it comes to time management, I start off every week by reviewing my schedule on Sunday and making sure I have allotted the time I need for my priorities. I have come to identify my priorities after many years of feeling like I haven’t had enough time for certain things that really matter to me or expending energy on things that deter me from achieving my goals.
I would tell new dentists to be realistic about your goals and who you are! One quick and easy way to do that is to make a chart or a schedule and track your time. Identify your main responsibilities, personal needs, staff or team management, free time, patient care time and your emergency time. Do this for a few weeks and see if the percentage of time spent in doing these essential things makes sense to you. What part of your schedule is taking away from another that is not as urgent or necessary? You can then restructure your days or weeks so that time is being spent wisely and you’re not burning out!
Why should you manage your time and achieve for efficiency? That depends on your goals. Are you striving to make a certain amount of profit each year? Do you aspire to have a certain number of practices? Do you want to be there for your kids every day? Or do you simply want to carve more time for yourself?
Unhappiness usually stems from neglecting certain aspects of your life that you think deserve your time but you are unable to fulfill. One simple piece of advice I tend to give many practitioners is to let go of wanting so much control over things. Be the practitioner that can delegate and oversee a great team that is independent. Make time to take continuing education and to network with other professionals. The more you learn from your peers and the stronger your network is in the earlier years of your career the better your foundation will be for the future. Be easy on yourself and don’t pressure yourself to strive for perfection to utilize every minute of the day wisely.
Time management will be a constant work in progress. As you transition through different phases of life, you will have to make time for the unexpected so don’t get frustrated when everything doesn’t fit into your schedule, keep your cool, take a step back and restructure your life in a way that makes you happy.
Dr. Hemali Ajmera is a native New Yorker born in Queens and a graduate of the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. She is a member of the ADA and the New York State Dental Association. She attended New York University’s Accelerated 7 Year B.A.-D.D.S. Program. Dr. Ajmera completed her general practice residency at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in 2009. She is practicing general dentistry in the New York City Metro Area in two family-owned and operated private practices. Dr. Ajmera is chairwoman of the New York State Dental Association New Dentist Committee through which she is able to promote camaraderie and education to dental students, residents and new dentists. Her hobbies include event planning, traveling, cooking, spinning and writing.