I love checklists. Confession: I used to add activities to my checklist just so I could enjoy the satisfaction of checking off more boxes at the end of the day. Back then, my checklists were long—but they weren’t actually focused on my most productive work. They didn’t direct my effort, energy, and time to the work that was most rewarding to me and valuable to my business.
I bet if you looked at your checklist right now, you’d find 90 percent of what’s there is busywork, not the truly productive work where your time is best spent.
I know how stretched thin practice owners are—the last thing you need is more to do. The amount of effort involved here isn’t a lot, and the time you will spend on this exercise will pay off exponentially, as you get rid of busywork and are able to focus on the work that’s most important to you and valuable to your business.
Step 1: Create a log of your daily work activities.
For one week, write down everything you do at work. No task is too small to include—in fact, the small tasks are extremely important to capture. If you:
- Answer the phone
- Turn on equipment
- Open the mail
- Check and respond to emails
- Greet patients
- Schedule appointments
- Handle cancellations
Write them down. That’s in addition to other activities you’re likely engaged in, including:
- Treating patients
- Managing finances, including regular bookkeeping
- Addressing denials
- Answering questions and troubleshooting with staff
Write it all down. The goal? To become truly aware of precisely how you use your time all day, every day.
There will be some surprises here, both in the activities you discover on your list and the amount of time you spend doing certain things. Don’t judge yourself. Just focus on recording everything you do.
Step 2. Determine what activities are busywork and what are productive work
Keep in mind, most of what is on your list is likely to be busywork, not the deep, productive work we’re looking to make your focus. Most if not all of that busywork will be important to your business—it just won’t be work that’s essential for you to do.
How do you tell the difference?
Busywork is composed of low-energy activities. It’s the work that feels mundane. For you, it’s not high purpose—and often, it’s not high skill. When scanning your list for low-energy activities, it’s important to be honest with yourself.
If your response to task on your list is “I don’t mind doing this” – that’s a low-energy activity.
Productive work is composed of high-energy activities. These are high-skilled tasks that also have meaning for you—productive work is work you can feel passionate about. This is work that lifts your energy and gets your blood flowing—it’s the very opposite of mundane.
Step 3: Pick a low-energy activity to let go.
Start with just one. I recommend choosing one that doesn’t cost you anything to re-assign. Ask yourself? Who on my team can take over this activity? Maybe someone is already doing it—and you’re also doing the work alongside that team member. Make sure your staff has the information and support they need to do the work well—then take your hands off of it.
Here’s the thing: your busywork is someone else’s productive work. The bookkeeping you approach with anxiety and dread every month? Accounting and financial management are someone else’s passion. The ringing phone you can’t help but answer, even though it breaks your focus? Customer service is deep, rewarding, energizing work. You’ve probably already got a person on your team who lights up when providing service and guidance to your patients. (If you don’t, it’s probably time to look at why you don’t.)
In addition to freeing up your time to focus on your most productive work, wouldn’t you like these and other critical tasks to be performed by people who bring both skill and passion to them? That’s the key to getting the best results, no matter what the task at hand.
The basic formula for offloading busywork? Identify, delegate, repeat. You’ll come back to your list regularly to remove one task at a time. It’s also worth re-engineering your list as you progress—that’s an opportunity to see how your time in shifting in the direction of productivity, and home in on the low-energy activities that you still need to remove.
What’s in the best interest of your company is you at your most productive. Prudent and successful practice owners know this—and take steps to make it happen.
Delegating, time management, focusing on your most productive work—these are common challenges for practice owners. To talk through your challenges and how to meet them, schedule a free Strategy Call.