As a dental office manager for over 12 years, I can say that perhaps the hardest part of my daily routine is there is nothing routine about it. I am continually pulled, pushed, and driven toward whatever task, problem, crisis, or employee needs me at that time.
At least in my office, my door is always open, and I never know what or who is going to walk through that doorway and require my attention. I have kindly asked everyone on my team to refrain from asking me, “Are you busy?” when they walk through my door, as my answer is always, “Yes, I am busy, but what can I help you with today!”
This constant push-pull in a multitude of directions is very challenging to ensure I don’t leave loose ends anywhere and makes me feel like I always need to be “ON.” That “ON” mode can be exhausting at the end of the day. It is this push-pull that makes me wonder sometimes, how do I balance this? Balance being present and available for my staff while still getting the time that I need to complete critical tasks. And it doesn’t stop with the work tasks.
The balance of work and life
I was recently having a conversation about this challenge with a colleague when he asked me why I found this to be so challenging? Without hesitation, I stated, “The balance! Balancing out being on demand all day dealing with problems, questions, emotions, and emergencies. And then going home being a mother, a wife, a woman, a friend, a sister, and a daughter… (I think you get the point) How do I balance it all out?”
He looked at me and simply said, “the balance is bull$h!t!” I was shocked and even a little bit offended, but with further conversation, I was able to open my eyes and my mind to the possibility that maybe I was looking at things backward.
Maybe the balance is off
From infancy, we constantly hear about balance. Physical balance, emotional balance, spiritual balance, mental balance, work-life balance… The list goes on and on. We are told and inevitably believe that if we are not in balance that we will falter, fall, or even fail. I am not saying that is an inaccurate concept, I am just suggesting that we look beyond the balance.
Though I feel it is true for all types of balance, I am going to focus on the ever-present need to balance work with family time and personal time. The concept I ask you to simply ponder is that there are times in our lives when we cannot be balanced, and that is okay.
There are times our family needs more direct attention, and we have to put ourselves and our work on the back burner. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean decreased quality. It merely means that we cannot give more than is necessary to get through the moment.
There are times when we need to turn our focus on ourselves (physically and/or emotionally) and spend less time and attention on our work and our family.
And yes, there is occasionally time that our work, our career enhancement as a dental office manager, our profession, requires more time and attention than our families and self.
Stop trying to balance it all out
The constant strive to balance this out every day was leaving me feeling like I was a lackluster mom, a mediocre wife, an overworked office manager, and someone who never had time for “me.” I felt that if I spent an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy at work, then I better go home and do the same on every other aspect.
For me, admitting this to myself (and my family) was the first step in truly understanding it and accepting it. I realized that if I want to be the best I can be, I have to give credit where credit is due and to stop chasing the balance.
Ironically enough, it seems to me that balance comes when you stop comparing individual efforts and put forth your time effort and energy where they are needed at that moment. If we are always chasing the carrot, we will lose sight of the race!
So let today be the day that you stop trying to balance it all out. Let today be the day you choose to focus your energy and talents where they are needed at that time and then simply move on. Celebrate big victories and little victories without comparing them to each other. Acknowledge and learn from defeats without letting them weigh you down.
Meet the Author
Stacy Lavin grew up in central Wisconsin and completed her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Mrs. Lavin relocated to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2007.
She fell in love with dentistry after accepting a summer job as a front desk administrator at a local dental clinic in 2003. Her knowledge and passion for dentistry spans from the front desk to the dental chair and back again.
She has been a dental office manager for over 12 years now and is a big part of our AADOM tribe. She is an active Lifetime AADOM member and proudly earned her Fellowship of the American Association of Dental Office Managers in 2019.