There is enough time in the day: Part 2 -- Clinical struggles

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The first part of this series focused on personal productivity and to-do lists. For the second installment, let's talk about the sometimes overwhelming chaos you experience around your clinical work.

Jen Butler, MEd.Jen Butler, MEd.

As we discussed in the last column, your personal productivity is based on four crucial steps:

  • Setting goals
  • Making your list
  • Prioritizing
  • Tracking

Dentists often categorize their day into different areas, such as clinical, administrative, personal (doctor), and personal (family) times. This is one of the reasons they feel pulled in many directions, as these areas of their life may have competing and contradictory goals. Clinical work is part of your personal productivity, not separate from it. Align your clinical work with your overarching goals, so no matter what work you are doing you are always moving toward one, singular point.

6 productivity techniques

Finding time to focus on personal productivity can be challenging when there's little time in the day for yourself. Here are clinical productivity techniques that will carve out time in your daily routine to help you increase your overall personal productivity:

  • Stop talking to patients so much in hygiene -- talk to them in the treatment room instead.
  • Build rapport with patients by talking about subjects important to them.
  • Make sure you have documented processes and systems that provide the fundamental structure for patient flow.
  • Look at your patient schedule three days in advance to make sure all codes are in the patient scheduling notes.
  • Does a patient need additional treatment? Focus on what's in the appointment and schedule the additional treatment.
  • Make sure scheduling of provider time is accurate to highlight any issues, such as open slots, double bookings, or treatments that may take additional time.

The biggest challenge doctors have around increasing their personal productivity in their clinical space is staying in control and adhering to their strategic plan over immediate production. When faced with the decision to stay steadfast on achieving their goals or, for instance, adding in another emergency patient for the day or opening another column of hygiene to make a production goal, most doctors choose the short-term reward.

When we say yes to one thing, there is an inherent counterbalance that we are denying something else. Make sure every decision supports your long-term goal and not always what's directly in front of you.

Part 3 of this series will focus on effective time management.

Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners. For information on how to create your personal productivity blueprint, contact her at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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