As office (and life) experience has proven, some days are just sometimes simply worse than others. The busyness and chaos that sets in, even on a typical day, is largely inevitable and unavoidable. On the flip side, some days are also more manageable than others. Sometimes it depends on the types of procedures to be performed that day, or even just our state of mind on that particular day. Overall, the issues and emergencies that can come up day to day are unpredictable and out of our control.
That being said, there are certainly actions we can take to keep chaos and interruptions to a minimum to ensure the daily schedule and processes flow as smoothly as possible. Ensuring your patients are receiving the top-notch care they deserve and expect from your staff, and you and your staff maintaining the highest level of professionalism and sanity is always at the top of the priority list!
Unexpected interruptions throughout the day affect one’s ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand as well as keep you from focusing on your game plan to keep your office running efficiently and ensuring the most positive patient experience, where each patient feels they are receiving the time and attention they came for.
Although you may not have considered this idea before, concentration is actually a time management tool that can be mastered and is vital to experiencing maximum productivity and efficiency each and every day. Not to mention, mastering this skill will allow you to be more successful at home and in many other areas of your life.
Maintaining focus and concentration can be difficult, especially on days you are lacking in mental and physical energy due to a rough night of sleep, experiencing personal or health challenges, or maybe it’s just one of those days when everything that can go wrong does. And certainly if you are looking for excuses to not get the things done you should, you will come up with plenty of them.
So what, then, is the solution to increasing your power of concentration? Simply put…taking control.
Okay, easy enough. But how?
As a practice manager, you are in control, for the most part, as to how your office is run and what kinds of interruptions you allow to occur and decide to deal with throughout the day. Certainly there will be emergencies or other things that can not wait and will need to be dealt with immediately, but here are a few ways you can maintain control and keep distractions and interruptions to a minimum:
Put an out-of-office reply on your e-mail and encourage support from your staff members by letting them know you’d prefer to only be interrupted in the case of an emergency.
Ask staff members to hold any non-urgent calls. Consider recording a voicemail greeting telling callers that you will return their calls between certain designated hours of the day. That way those patients, colleagues, fellow practitioners, etc. are sure to have your undivided time and attention. Callers, staff members and others will catch on quickly to your new schedule and make sure to remember to only try contacting you during your designated block of time.
Implement a more specific criteria or system. Building on the previous idea, there are likely other stretches of time throughout your day and week that it is not necessary for you to be answering calls. You may want to establish guidelines for being contacted or decide what types of calls you will take and when. For example:
- Priority Level 1–(Highest)–An unhappy patient or family emergency would be handled immediately
- Priority Level 2– (Moderate)–A staff member with a scheduling question
- Priority Level 3–(Low)–A vendor checking in may be instructed to call back with X amount of time
- Priority Level 4–(No Contact)–A sales or telemarketing call
Establishing concrete guidelines for being contacted (or interrupted) throughout your workday will not only allow you to be most productive and efficient with your time, but it will also reduce the overall level of chaos and stress for everyone in your office. In addition, this type of structure will create a more relaxed and inviting environment for your patients and anyone else who interacts with your staff on a daily basis and will ensure the most positive experience for everyone across the board.
Interested in more tips for running an efficient practice? Read our free guide, "8 Ways to Increase Office Efficiency."