In his recent book, What Dentists Can Learn from Top CEOs, Dr. Roger P. Levin describes a wide range of effective techniques used by corporate leaders and explains how these approaches can be applied successfully in dental practices. The following is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "CEOs Manage Their Time."
How can you continue practicing excellent dentistry and lead your practice with the skills of a successful CEO? The answer is time management.
In the last 30 years, I have attended more than 25 courses and read twice that number of books on how executives can manage their time. While they do take different approaches, for the most part they all come down to the same basic concepts.
The following recommendations will be of tremendous help to dentists who truly want to improve their CEO skills.
Prioritize all personal activities
Using a pad or electronic device you can carry around with you, jot down all your activities during waking hours in 15-minute increments for four to six weeks. Although this will take some effort, it won't go on for long and will be well worth it. You will be creating a time log.
There is no need for detail. The easiest way to do this is to simply lay out every 15 minutes over six weeks how all waking hours are spent. All clinical activities at the practice can be called simply "patient care." Other categories of time would be as follows:
- Being the CEO
- Family activities
- Charitable activities
- Other activities that are part of your day-to-day life
Once you have logged your time for the four to six weeks, go through it and add up the total time per category. You will probably be surprised at how you are actually spending your waking hours. One recent client was shocked to find out that he was spending five or six hours a day watching television (he had thought it was less than two hours a day) and more than 10 hours watching football on weekends.
Making a time log tells you how many hours and what percentage of your time are spent in different activities. You are the best judge of whether your "private" time is being well-spent. However, the work-related categories bear discussion here:
- Patient care should account for 98% of your time in the practice during normal business hours.
- Being the CEO should consume the remaining 2%.
- Administrative duties do not ordinarily merit any of your time.
The typical dentist will naturally gravitate toward providing patient care. Many also have the bad habit of micromanaging -- evidenced by a significant amount of time logged for administrative matters. A dentist as CEO will break that habit, delegate all administrative work to team members, and check the numbers periodically to make sure performance is up to par.
Where dentists tend to fall short is in CEO time -- spent on such critical matters as strategic planning, goal setting, meeting with outside experts, and other activities that advance the practice. If you are not devoting enough of your time to this, the solution is not to add more working hours to your schedule.
In fact, dentists who have learned to be effective CEOs spend considerably less time working than many other dentists. To give yourself 2% CEO time, start reducing time spent micromanaging and don't stop until you have completely eliminated time in the "Administrative" category on your time log. It is not a priority, so you must delegate all of it to staff.
Dentists are "do-it-yourselfers." Many of them form this habit in the early days of their practices, when high debt levels make them hesitant to hire more staff or pay outside experts. After a while, the habit becomes so ingrained they don't even notice it anymore. Trying to do it all yourself eats up a great deal of time and prevents you from focusing on dentistry. Another time drain is unimportant activities with deadlines that make them seem urgent.
Many dentists think that they delegate well, not realizing how many noncritical activities they fail to delegate. That's why it's so important to create a time log.
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Copyright © 2015, Levin Group, Inc. Reprinted with permission.