News |4 min read

How to Fix Burnout at Work

Cara Hull, MAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

Last year when we returned to work full-time after the closure, I started to see and evaluate things differently.

Stepping away from the office for several weeks allowed me to re-evaluate my career, our dental practice, and my busy lifestyle.

I didn’t like what I saw.

Our website looked outdated, dental equipment needed to be repaired, and my employee manual hadn’t been touched for years.

As I spent time watching CE webinars from home, I learned about new products and services I didn’t even know existed.

I’m a FAADOM with over 15 years of experience.

How could this have happened?! When did I set the cruise control and start coasting through my day?

It was time for a reset… and here’s how I did it:

#1 Park it

Stop everything and spend some time reflecting.

How long this step takes is up to you. It may be just a few minutes, or you may want to invest several days.

One of the positives of the pandemic was it forced me to slow down and consider what was most important.

As the office manager, I spend lots of extra time at the office outside of normal business hours working on reports, paying bills, developing protocols, and following up on duties that weren’t completed during the week.

I wanted this to stop! It needed to stop, so I could focus on what’s most important to me – my husband and four children. I’m sure there are many office managers who can relate.

As far as my career, I had been on hold, toying with the idea of taking classes for my master’s degree or considering something outside of dentistry; but I love dentistry! I never thought I would say that because being a dental spouse, I didn’t feel this is a profession I necessarily chose

After thinking about things, I decided to choose this career for myself and stop saying it wasn’t my choice. We always have a choice.

#2 Map it

When I don’t have the answers, I turn to the experts who do.

Two AADOM webinars that helped me in this step were “Explore your Work/Life Map: Identify Triggers to Minimize Stress & Maximize Productivity” and “The RISE code: Get Back on Track When Life Takes a Detour” by Kristen Brown.

My notes and the webinar handouts were in my “to-do” basket since I listened to them in 2019 (you know that basket on your desk of really cool stuff you want to do but can’t find the time). Well, it was time to pull out Kristen Brown’s information and do it!

My favorite takeaway was that the work-life balance is a myth – it’s all just life. You’re in charge and should be mapping out your commitments and dreams.

#3 Drive it

All that’s left is to start putting your plan into action.

There’s a reason safety experts tell you to turn off your cruise control while driving in bad weather or construction zones. It’s because you need to give your full attention as you drive.

The same concept needs to be given to implementing your plan.

My first step was to eliminate or delegate tasks that could be completed by someone else in the practice.

As office managers, we have a responsibility to train up team leaders.

Yes, I had been doing these tasks for years, but I didn’t need to continue. With proper training and coaching, other team members could grow in their positions by accepting additional duties. In turn, I freed up my schedule.

While I was on cruise control, some areas had fallen behind.

Two lists hang on the wall in my office – one for building and equipment improvements and the other for new programs or ideas I want to incorporate.

Depending on your office situation and job responsibilities, you may be the decision-maker or may need to discuss changes with your doctor.

I’m a firm believer in running changes by my doctor.

As the budget allows, I’ve started repairing or replacing the items on my list, from handpieces to new blinds to landscaping.

There is no way that I can complete all the items at once, especially as we are recovering from COVID-19. I don’t want to overwhelm my team either, so we’re slowly incorporating new ideas.

We’ve updated our office handbook with CEDR Solutions and plan to revamp our website and online presence.

Although we have lots to do, it feels good to have a plan.

And as for my career, I’m back!

It’s hard for me to admit that I needed a reboot. Believe me, I was working very hard but had lost focus.

Now I’m taking CE classes that are challenging me. It’s never too late for a fresh start.


Meet the Author

Cara Hull in pink top and pearl necklace

Cara and her husband, Dr. Joseph Hull, own a general dental practice in Gregory, SD.

Cara is a lifetime AADOM member, participates in the Dental Spouse Network… This text opens a new tab to the Dental Spouse Network website…, earned her FAADOM in 2012 and MAADOM in 2021.

When not at the dental office, Cara is active with her four children. She serves as a local school board member, Girl Scout troop leader, and Sunday school teacher.

In 2018, Cara received the “Go-Getter Award” from the Gregory/Dallas Chamber of Commerce for her dedication to supporting local businesses and volunteering throughout the community.

 

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