My husband has a rule in our house — if I’m on the phone, I’m not allowed to pick up anything around the house. You may guess why. I tend to misplace things when I do more than one thing at a time. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve misplaced my keys doing just this. It can be challenging trying to do multiple tasks at one time.
When you work at the front desk, however, that challenge can be extremely daunting. Losing your keys is bad enough. But imagine making an appointment for a patient and forgetting to put it in the computer schedule because you were sidetracked by a phone call. Now imagine having that patient show up for an appointment that you do not have on your already booked schedule. I can tell you from experience, it is not a fun time for anyone.
Learning to focus on the task at hand keeps you more productive. These three easy steps will ensure that you stay focused and accomplish your daily goals.
Step 1 — Have a goal in mind of what you want to accomplish each day. I am not talking about a financial goal. What is it that you want to focus on and get done? Have you been putting off following up on your outstanding claims report? Make yourself a note and stick it on your computer. It will be the first thing you see when you come in the next morning. Now move that note to your phone so that every time you use it the note will be there as a constant reminder. Hold yourself accountable and do not get sidetracked. When you have finished your daily tasks, sit down and grab that report. There is no better time than the present.
Step 2 — Keep a Post-it notepad and pencil close by every phone in the office. I cannot tell you how many times someone has called our office and given me their name, and I have forgotten it by the time they tell me what they need. As soon as someone introduces him- or herself, write down the name. This helps to catch other information that people tell you. Don't you love it when you’re trying to schedule an appointment and the computer freezes? Well, guess what? The pen and paper never do! We can always go back and enter the information into the computer, but for now just stay focused on that person on the phone. Having the paper and pen comes in handy when you need to make a note to remind yourself to put that other appointment in the computer that you were working on when the phone rang!
Step 3 — Never be afraid to ask for and accept a helping hand. Sometimes we get so focused on what needs to be done that we forget we’re not the only ones who can get it done. There is a lot to do in the dental front office, and if you’re the only one working up front, it can be difficult. Let the assistants and hygienists help confirm appointments and do other daily tasks that can be time-consuming. By sharing the work, you can focus on those other jobs that you don’t always have the time for. More importantly, you can focus on your patients.
Focusing on what we’re doing gives patients our undivided attention, and it makes our practice stand out from the rest. We do so much to get our patients through the door. We need to remember that once they’re in our office, it is our focus on them that will keep them coming back. Always remember to stay focused on the task at hand. Do this and the rest is as easy as 1-2-3.
Lisa M. Spradley has been in the dental field for more than 15 years. She is an office manager for a general dentist and has her own dental consulting business, TCB Dental Consulting. She helps train front office staff in effective time management techniques. She is an active, lifetime member with AADOM, and will receive her Fellowship in September of 2012. Lisa can be reached at [email protected].