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    3 habits for successful time management

    Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Donna Suter, president of Suter Consulting Group. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.

    The ‘Sharpening Your Saw’ illustration used in time management circles means it is up to you to shape your workday. Ask any group of eyecare professionals to describe their most pressing work problem and you are bound to hear that there are “not enough hours in the day” or “too many fires to put out.”

    Change is an inside job. Are you unhappy with your practice’s growth? Take the often overlooked option of offensive time management. Actively shape your day by establishing what I like to call selective control. Refocus and harness the time you can control, and institute defensive measure to minimize the impact of the demands you can’t control.

    To illustrate this, let’s walk through a typical day of doctor I know.

    By 9 am, the doctor is in the office and ready to see patients. From then until noon, she sees 15 patients.

    After a 90-minute lunch break, she sees 20 more patients until clinic ends at 6:30 pm.

    This doctor leaves and her support staff closes the lanes, refreshes everything used, closes out the ledger, and finishes up in optical. They are on-site until 7 pm.

    After dinner with her fiancée, she relaxes and maybe watches a little TV. Then, her planning time starts.

    For an additional 3 hours, she delves into the business side of operating a private practice. Because she is able to log onto her practice management software from her home computer, she doesn’t stay at the office or go back. She addresses the following issues on a rotating basis:

    • personnel
    • marketing
    • finances

    The remaining nine hours of her planning-week are spent working through her Master To-Do List. This planning of her workload is key to productive time. Her time may be spent at the office – before or after clinic training or having a one-on-one coaching session with an employee she is wanting to delegate a task to.

    She and her associate eat lunch together once a month and she also uses her lunch break twice a week to meet off-site with key employees.

    Because her practice is less than five years old, she keeps to the above schedule 6 days a week. In addition, she is president of her local professional association and a committee chairperson for her state association. She makes time for these two organizations because she feels it is vital to form relationships with peak performers. (She wants to hear their ‘pearls’ and avoid their mistakes.)  She spends about 2 hours a week meeting these obligations and her involvement with other professionals averages about one weekend trip each month.

    How does she do it?

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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