Take Time to Make Time, Part 2

By Lisa Bilodeau, CA

Chiropractic-assistant trainer Sherry Hodge has said, "Why do people find time to eat but can't find time to exercise? It is all about prioritizing." The following time-management tips come from a daily planner called a "success journal," which I received at a chiropractic seminar in the '80s. The journal is now called the "Winners Journal" by John Carls, DC, and Pam Carls. Pam has given me permission to share these tips with you, and as mentioned in part 1 of this article, in some cases I have expanded on the tips, adding information based on my observations and experience working with chiropractors in their practices.

In total, this article and the previous one cover 12 tips that can help improve your office workflow and give you more time. I discussed the first five tips in part 1, which appeared in the Feb. 12 issue of DC.

6. Limit telephone calls: Receive and make calls only during specified time periods. Before you take or make a call, create a list of points to cover, set a time limit for the call (and tell the other person how much time you have available to speak). During the call, keep social chit-chat to a minimum. Have someone take messages for you at other times, screen calls and reroute any calls that can be handled by someone else. Remember to use your scripts to get the desired results.

Since these time-management tips originally appeared in the '80s, before most offices had computers and e-mail, I am adding e-mails to this list. As with telephone calls, it is recommended that you only check and send business-related e-mail at specific times of the day. Also, remember that the Internet should not be for personal use.

7. Plan meetings: These should be held only when necessary. In some cases, a written memo is sufficient. When you have meetings, be sure to have written objectives and an agenda, which should be distributed to all participants prior to the meeting. Use the agenda to keep you on track and on time. In my opinion, weekly team meetings are not optional. It is recommended that you have this meeting on Monday so you have a plan for the week.

The agenda should cover the following areas: your mission statement, a success story, a review of the last meeting, reports by department (including but not limited to the appointment book, insurance, collections, office supplies, promotions, goals such as new patients, routine patient visits and service) and special concerns that need to be addressed. Remember that your closing should be motivational. If you would like a sample team-meeting agenda, please e-mail and place "TMA" in the subject box.

8. Manage paperwork: Handle each piece of paper once. Take action, discard it or file it. Take care of all mail the day you receive it. Respond to letters while they are in front of you. If possible, respond with a telephone call instead. If a letter is necessary, use a form letter whenever possible. Have your CA screen all incoming paperwork.

9. Eliminate clutter: this can be a major distraction in your work area. Only have what is needed in front of you.

10. Focus on prime time: Save the most demanding tasks for the time of day during which you perform best.

11. Combine tasks: Whenever possible, conduct meetings during breakfast or lunch. Read reports, trade magazines and handle correspondence when traveling on a plane or train, and listen to motivational and business CDs while driving.

12. Complete tasks: Too much time is wasted by working on too many things at once. It scatters energies and concentration, so complete the current task at hand before starting the next one.

When you utilize these time-management tips, I think you will find that you are much more productive and have more time to spend with your family and friends, which is a tremendous benefit. Remember, to maintain a successful long-term practice, it's vital to make time to take care of yourself.

Click here for previous articles by Lisa Bilodeau, CA.

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