Everyday Work-Life Balance Strategies
Work-life balance is often tough for dentists who manage busy dental practices. You are constantly juggling administrative duties, payroll, staff recruitment and retention, marketing, and the list goes on. Most dentists think that they will get more time off or their lives will become easier once they complete years of tedious school and training. But in fact, you are often left with student loan debt and many other responsibilities that allow you little time off for yourself. Let’s not forget that dentistry is scheduled in blocks of six month appointments so many dentists choose to take very few days off in between unless it is for vacation or continuing education.
Dentists, like all busy career professionals, need to dedicate more time off to themselves and recognize the importance of mental health days. A simple day or two off to just relax or spend time with family can reignite your enthusiasm for dentistry and ultimately give you a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling career.
Time off from dentistry is an opportunity for you to take care of yourself. While dentists and physicians often recommend health advice, they neglect their own health because they don’t give themselves the time off for their overall well being. There is no recipe for finding the perfect work-life balance. Each dentist requires something different for their specific self care needs. Some may thrive on taking a day or two off every few weeks, while others find happiness in taking larger blocks of time off during holidays or summertime.
A good balance in your general dentistry or pediatric dentistry practice can alleviate stress and certainly motivate you during your busy season. Some tips to find a healthy work-life balance include:
Being Efficient During Work Time
Whether you work two days a week or five, use your time wisely. Try and get the most out of office time so you are not bringing work home. Give your patients your undivided attention and keep up-to-date on your to-do list. Most importantly, avoid procrastination so you can be as efficient as possible in order to maximize your production and minimize clinical stress.
Invest in a Good Office Support System
Your dental team is one of your greatest assets. You need skilled administrative staff to minimize the time you spend doing billing and claims. Insurance issues can eat up many hours and the last thing you want to worry about is payments. Finding good clinical staff ( hygienists, assistants, floaters, and associates) is also important so you can manage your time. Some dentists prefer to do “everything” themselves, but ultimately this causes much more stress and wasted time.
You will thrive both personally and professionally when you have a dedicated, motivated team. It will allow you to take time off because you trust that your office is well maintained when you have people who support you. Having a good dental associate is invaluable because it gives you the space you need to take a mental health day or even a vacation. Staff issues are one of the top reasons for clinical stress because they cause wasted time and productivity.
Consider Your Schedule Ahead of Time
One of the best things you can do as a dental practice owner is look at your schedule well in advance and plan for yourself. Look at six months and even a year ahead in your dental schedule and block out hours or days that you can take time for you. Use this time to exercise, make doctors appointments, visit family and friends, or simply rest at home.
Working five to seven days a week is a great way to build financial security, but it also takes a toll on your physical and mental health. When you plan ahead, it will give you time off to spend on you. Your staff will appreciate the advanced notice so they can also make arrangements for your time out of the office.
Many dentists who are trying to figure out their work-life balance will reduce hours during summer or create holiday schedules so they can take additional time off. At the end of the day, dentistry will always be needed, so remember that it is advantageous as a dentist to plan your schedule around you.
Remember That You Are Number One
You are the leader of the office and without you the entire operation falls apart. You need to invest in your own mental health and wellbeing to maintain a successful dental practice and career. Be realistic in the number of days and hours you work and how many patients you see.
The more experience you have, the more you’ll realize that you need to take time to work on yourself for the sake of your family, office, and yourself. Practice what you preach by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and taking care of your own oral health.
If you can find time for yourself, you will have a better work-life balance and learn to really love your profession. Remember that dentistry is an incredible field because it allows for the flexibility in life to enjoy areas outside of work. You just need to make the time for it!