As a veterinarian, being devoted to one’s job does not have to mean long hours of unpaid overtime. Indeed, there are smart and effective ways to manage your time so that you can provide the best, committed service possible whilst still having a personal life! Say no to staring into the blank-screen-inertia of yet more clinical notes to write at 7pm, and yes to working smarter. Harness these 5 tips, and you could gain 250 hours of additional free time per year… and most importantly, prevent or cure your issues with burnout.
The 30-60 Minute Fire Break
Build a fire break of 30 to 60 minutes into your day, every single day. This is essential time required for you to complete paperwork, make your call backs, sort out insurance, and file reports. It is all too easy to push these administrative tasks aside, causing them to build up like an impenetrable fatberg in your life. Truly, being dogmatic over this fire break will reward you in the long run, saving you from scaling a looming admin mountain that has built up over time.
Moreover, creating a designated time slot for such tasks will allow you to complete them more accurately (rather than under pressure). Your billing will be precise, potentially generating more revenue for your practice, you will generate more operations for the practice, and you will have happier relationships with clients who have been called back in a timely manner.
To make your life (ever so slightly) easier when completing these administrative tasks, utilise templates wherever possible. This could be for producing estimates, bills, and clinical notes. Templates are there for a reason, so take advantage of them! If, however, you do not have templates built into your practice management software, you can at the very least prepare standardised Word documents. For example, save the standard clinical notes for the most common procedures you perform, and then they will be ready to copy and paste when needed. All that remains is to enter the relevant details such as any abnormalities in the specific case. Then, bask in the spare time you have created (but not for too long).
Understand Your Limit, And Then Some…
Think about how many operations you can viably complete, and then assume that life will throw you a curveball and factor in an extra operation. Do this every single day. Imagine your capacity is an expandable suitcase, where expansion is always reserved for an unexpected item (your prized sombrero). Setting your limit, and then being prepared for the unexpected, will stand you in good stead. And of course, your capacity will change as you gain experience and become faster at performing operations.
Don’t Get Distracted
This may seem obvious, but too many veterinarians succumb to the call of distraction. Focus on the task at hand, and then move on to the next. This methodical approach will be far more efficient than a scattergun one. If you are about to anesthetise an animal and a client call comes in, don’t go running to the call and leave your nurse technician in the lurch. As will probably be familiar to you, a ‘quick’ call about collecting test results can easily spiral into a 30 minute colloquy about medicated cat food.
In sum, distractions add up, can cause confusion and can take time away from prioritized tasks. Therefore, set a schedule and stick to it where possible.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes progress. If you are a relatively new veterinarian, do not expect to be great at everything straight away. Becoming efficient in your profession relies on a certain amount of patience, and a large amount of practice. If we attempt to be great at everything immediately, this can cause us to flail and eventually burn-out; majorly putting the brakes on our long-term development.
Mastery is the practising of a technique until it becomes second nature. Keep this in mind, and try not to panic when you are not an immediate expert in spay surgery. Sure enough, your methodical and patient approach will pay off as you progress towards mastery.
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