Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 06 Write Down 1

Relieve stress and master time management in your dental practice

June 23, 2016
There is a way to regain control of your schedule in the dental practice. Jennifer Schultz offers solutions for taking control, including writing down your tasks.
This article first appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. To receive enlightening and helpful articles for assistants and office managers in this monthly e-newsletter, visit

The dental industry has changed a lot over the years. There are more processes and regulations now required to run a dental practice, such as HIPAA and OSHA, as well as increased paperwork associated with insurance. This has significantly increased the amount of time needed for paperwork and administrative tasks in a dental practice.

With the addition of more administrative work it often feels like there isn’t enough time in the day. So how do you create some margin in your day and complete all your tasks? I have a simple four-step process to help give you your time back and ensure that your tasks are complete on time.

STEP 1: Braindumping
Braindumping is the process of getting all of your to-dos out of your head and onto paper. When we have tasks and things we need to remember to follow up on swirling around in our head, this prevents us from thinking clearly and being able to fully focus on the task at hand. The solution is to clear your head.

Simply sit down with no distractions and write down all of your to-dos. It is critical to list everything you need to do. This includes everything from important tasks to purchasing more ink for the printer. Anything that’s floating around in your head that you need to remember needs to be on this list. While doing this step do not be concerned with organizing your list, just get it all on paper.

After your initial braindumping session it’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process. This means that on a daily basis as new to-dos pop up, get them on your list immediately. Once all of these tasks and to-dos are out of your head and on paper, it’s time to determine what to spend your time on and what to delegate or automate.

STEP 2: Automate
Review your list and look for opportunities to automate your tasks. With technology, there are many ways to automate recurring tasks to reduce the time needed for hands-on management. For example, confirmation calls are now replaced with texts and emails that happen automatically every day.

While there may be an initial time or money investment, most of the time automating tasks will save you money and be more efficient in the long term.

STEP 3: Delegate
With the remaining tasks, ask which ones can be delegated. Delegation does not always come naturally for people, but no one can do everything themselves. For example, dentists do not answer phones. The reason is that it is not the best use of their time. If they answered the phone they would not have enough time to provide dental treatment to their patients. The same holds true for every team member. For example, an administrative team member sitting on the phone with an insurance company is not the best use of their time. This is something that can easily be outsourced so that the team member can spend time speaking with patients, filling the schedule, and presenting treatment.

One reason that many leaders do not delegate is because they believe they can do it better and faster themselves. While delegating does involve training, it is one of the only ways to create more time and it definitely pays off in the long term.

STEP 4: Schedule
The remaining tasks on your list (tasks that you can’t automate or delegate) need to be scheduled. Most people have a tendency to overestimate what can be accomplished in a day. Scheduling is important because it puts into perspective the amount of time needed to complete tasks. In addition, people tend to be more loyal to an appointment than a task. This automatically forces you to prioritize your tasks and see what is actually feasible in a day. This sets you up for success instead of defeat.

The increase of administrative tasks with running a dental practice does not have to equate to being busier. You can jump off the busyness wheel, complete your tasks, and create some breathing room for yourself in the process.

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Jennifer Schultz is a results coach who has spent over 20 years in dentistry. She is the owner of She can be reached at [email protected] or (563) 582-4762.