Take a minute to look at your daily list of things to do. Are you overwhelmed? Feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done? If you are constantly tired and feeling like you need a break, then maybe it is time to look at how you are managing your time and energy.
Self-care, delegating tasks to staff members, partnering with technology, and putting up or revisiting personal boundaries have helped me throughout my career. Doing a quick audit of these things can help make you more efficient within your day-to-day routine.
“How do you manage self-care?” you may ask. Self-care can look like many things and each person’s self-care may look differently. Some things improving my daily work life were to get enough sleep, unplugging from technology, and taking a lunch break outside of the office. Yes, I said it. Take your lunches!
Whether you take your break in your vehicle, in a closed office with a do not disturb sign, or at a restaurant, shutting off work mode temporarily helps you get much-needed time to take a break, unwind, and relax. Being physically unavailable leaves you for fewer interruptions.
Unplugging from technology can be anything from turning your phone off or on silent for a period of time. Sometimes even tucking it away in a backpack or the other room leaves you less tempted to check it. Lack of sleep is something most people suffer from, but it is so important to allow your body to rest and restore its energy. What good will you be to your coworkers if your gas tank is empty?
Try evaluating your schedule to make room for more sleep! Self-care can be whatever helps center you and revive your energy to mentally and physically take care of yourself. Some believe only 30 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation can change how the rest of your day goes by boosting energy and mood, improving productivity, and reducing stress. After all, everyone needs to take the time to care for themselves, and, in my opinion, a happy employee is one of the most rewarding things.
Believe it or not, delegation can be one of the most difficult things for some people. They can sometimes feel like they are giving up some of their control or being replaced. Encouraging delegation within your practice is so important because not only does it allow you to get more things accomplished in a shorter amount of time, but you are also empowering employees with more responsibility, which can improve staff retention in the long run.
When delegating, consider how the employee is doing currently. Are they performing their assigned job duties on time and perfectly? Are they qualified for the job? Are going to be able to handle the additional work?
If the employee is perfecting their job day in and day out, then it may be time to add additional duties. If they are not able to get their work done in a timely manner, and it is poor quality, then I would not give the employee additional duties. You want to make sure you are prioritizing the tasks that can be delegated and leverage your team to get them done more efficiently. Having the right people performing the right tasks at the right time will always equal more efficient work and a staff that is more motivated.
Using technology to help manage time
Gone are the days of having to listen to 85 voicemails or extra phone calls/emails requesting refills on their pets’ medications. As much as the industry is growing, sometimes it can seem hard to keep up!
If you are struggling with this, there is help available. You can partner with several companies to do a lot of the work for you. Clients can receive text/emails about medical reminders, upcoming appointments, or request an appointment. Some of these services allow clients to be able to see what upcoming appointments are available in live action and book an appointment instantly, or send requests for medication refill. Utilizing this technology can help save your front office employees time and improve client satisfaction by providing them easy access to things necessary for caring for their pets.
Everyone needs to set up boundaries, or as some say, draw a line of what you are able and willing to do and what you are not able or willing to do. Boundaries can set the bar and demonstrate what is acceptable to employees.
Have you ever had an important meeting and were interrupted four times? Time to set a boundary. Prior to the meeting, communicate to staff you will be unavailable and ensure there will not be interruptions unless it is an emergency. Another boundary can be not answering the endless phone calls in your off time, or even drawing the line in an unpleasant client interaction.
Establishing boundaries can also tie into empowering your employees with decision-making, and delegating tasks to staff to help reinforce your boundaries. I have found scheduling out my day in blocks gives me a timeline to organize, evaluate, and adjust if needed, which helps me be more efficient. Utilizing boundaries in your everyday life can help set realistic expectations and can improve the output for the company and help employees remain more productive.
A great way to manage your energy is to do an energy audit to evaluate your body, emotional state, mind, and spirit. Your body of physical energy can include nutrition, exercise, and sleep, and lack of it can have an effect on your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. Your emotional energy can influence cognitive functions, and you can strengthen the communication between emotion and cognitive functions by using your EQ skills.
You can limit multi-tasking, be present, and use mindfulness to defuse negative emotions. Your mental energy can include scheduling things and not chasing urgencies. If you chase after every “urgency,” it can sometimes not be so urgent and take away from something else, which can affect regular production.
Your spiritual energy can include your purpose in life, core values, allocating your resources (time, energy, and talent), learning to say no, and prioritize your duties and life in general. Performing an energy audit is as easy as rating the four main dimensions of energy on a numeric scale from one to 10, and using that information to see where they are lacking and gives you tangible things to work on.
Sometimes, when things get out of control managing your energy and time can seem impossible, but in reality it can actually help you conquer anything that comes your way. By utilizing self-, delegation, technology, and boundaries, you will find your life to be less chaotic and more productive.
Every now and then, stop and take a minute to do an energy audit to see what areas need work, and try to work on them every day. When you are at the top of your game, you will be able to empower your staff to be at the top of theirs. Managing your energy and time is so necessary and it is something we should be more invested in! Improving personal and work productivity is a win-win for everyone.
Rachel Singletary is a practice manager in Lakeland, Fla., working with Family Vet Group who has started from the bottom and moved her way up. She has managed many different areas of animal hospitals and her top passion is inventory, staff development, and budgeting.