You don’t need to work harder

Stressed out practice owners constantly talk about wanting to be more productive without ever stopping to think about what exactly ‘productive’ means.

The best definition I’ve ever come across is Dan Kennedy’s in his Time Management for Entrepreneurs book:

“Productivity is the deliberate, strategic, investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals.”

It’s a mouthful but it’s an extremely clear working definition that will serve you well. When you plan your weeks and days, ask yourself if you’re investing your time doing things that will measurably move you closer to an important goal.

Please note there is nothing in the definition that mentions working harder and putting in more hours. For most practice owners, you don’t need to work harder! You just need to be more deliberate and strategic and where you’re investing your time.

I often hear reports from members about the common problem of not enough time, too busy seeing patients, working 6 days a week and having to take paperwork home to boot. You need to zero in on the reality that carving out 1 hour a day by moving the first appointment of the day back by an hour is infinitely more valuable than squeezing in a couple more patients and running around like a headless chicken all day. There is no leverage in seeing one more patient. All the leverage is in working on improving your team, your marketing, and your processes. And you can move a lot of things measurably closer to meaningful goals if you give yourself an hour a day (or a day a week) to get organised and take consistent, small actions. When you think accurately about how to invest your time it makes everything easier.

Time management guru David Allen says ‘one’s ability to be productive is directly proportional to one’s ability to relax.’ When you have trusted routines and processes and structures in place that you use consistently then you can relax knowing that you are investing your time in the right areas to achieve your most important goals. There will always be chaos. There will always be more things to do that you ever can do. But none of that matters if you’re relaxed because you know you’re investing your energy in a manner than is aligned with YOUR goals, not someone else’s demands of you.

The best thing you can do right now is look at your weekly schedule and your practice diary and change it so you carve out more time to work on meaningful goals. And if you have to inconvenience a few patients so be it (remember, it’s your life and you can live it on your terms). And if you’re feeling queasy about it, I’ll also remind you that you are unlikely to lose any of these patients, they’ll simply book in at a different time or a few days later.

My time is the most important thing I have. It is the stuff life is made off. I design how I spend it for my convenience and no-one else’s. It’s an approach I recommend.