Juggling heavy workloads, managing relationships, and handling family responsibilities all increase stress levels, which in turn can weaken our immune system, and increase our susceptibility to colds, heart disease, and strokes.
Striving to achieve a work-life balance for dental managers is not a new concept, and I’m sure you have read numerous articles about this balance and its many benefits.
Yet, how many times have you started to wrap up your day when you are pulled in another direction, only to realize that it’s now well after closing time? You then have a moment when you say to yourself, “I can’t believe it’s 6 pm, and I’m still here at the office.”
Why is it that so few managers feel they can actually achieve this work-life balance?
Work-life balance for dental managers
As dental managers, we are in a high position to make this happen. Many dental offices are open four days a week, which offers a perfect opportunity to create a better balance between our work and personal life. The key is for us to set priorities and boundaries that allow us to stay true to this philosophy.
To begin, we need to come to work each day with intention and clarity. This reminds me of a quote I saw, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” As with anything new, we need to start small.
Here are five steps that I found to be very helpful in gaining a better work-life balance:
1. Make a to-do list
Take five to 10 minutes each day to make a to-do list of three to six things you know you must get done that day and prioritize them. This may seem silly or unnecessary, but I can tell you from experience, there is such a sense of accomplishment when you can cross a line through every item on your list.
Just keep in mind your list needs to be manageable and realistic.
2. Set aside power time
Set aside 30 minutes to an hour for power time each day. This is a time when you close your office door, address issues that need immediate attention, plan your next day, and deal with any other items.
Let’s be real here for a moment, the office will not fall apart or collapse without you for this period of time. If anything, the overall practice function should improve over time if you permit yourself to have this power time. Remember, we will never find the time; we must make the time to accomplish what needs to be done.
3. Set boundaries
Setting personal work boundaries is something I think is a struggle for many of us. Setting boundaries at work should be a big priority because it leads people to be more efficient and confident as well as less stressed.
I speak from experience when I say, once you can overcome always saying yes, or how Colette Carlson once said, “I’ll just do one more thing” for example, this will be a game-changer for you. Setting and staying true to your boundaries will take some time and practice, so be patient.
4. Take a lunch break
Taking an actual lunch break not only provides you the time to refuel your body, but this break will also give you time to clear your mind, which will help improve your ability to deal with stress and make good decisions when you jump back into the grind.
5. Unplug yourself at home
Keep your cell phone out of the bedroom. For me, this is a non-negotiable. For those of you who no longer have a landline, I can hear it now, “what if there is a family emergency?”
There’s no reason you can’t set the volume high enough for you to hear the phone ring if someone really needs to get in touch with you. Have your phone in the hallway or kitchen, so you’re not interrupted by the beeping of a text or email coming in or your screen lighting up for things that can truly wait until morning.
What about the employee who is sending you a text because their child is sick and is calling out?
Unless you are going to contact an employee at 2 am to see if they can cover a shift, which I find very unlikely, what good is it to lie in bed awake for the next three or four hours running unending scenarios through your head for something completely out of your control?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to make it a policy for employees who are unable to make it to work, to call, not text (and I say this again, call not text) you between set hours? It is far too easy for an employee to call out when all they have to do is text you.
For my practice, I will not accept an employee texting me if they are unable to make it to work. They need to personally call my cell any time between 5 am to 9 pm. I am much better equipped to deal with this after a full night’s sleep than I would be lying awake in bed all night because I couldn’t resist looking at my phone sitting on my nightstand.
You can achieve a work-life balance!
Work-life balance for dental managers is achievable with time and commitment. Not only will you benefit from these changes, but your employees and practice will also as well. You will be happier and healthier.
With the holidays quickly approaching, why not start implementing these steps today?
Meet the Author
Luci Berardi is a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Management (FAADOM).