How big is your to-do list? 5? 10? 20?
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to feel like it’s your job to take everything on . . .let alone trying to keep track of it all.
My favorite old-school way of keeping my to-do’s top of mind? Sticky notes. I was obsessed with writing tasks on those little yellow pieces of paper. So much so, I called it obsessive sticky note disorder.
The entire surface of my computer was literally yellow with sticky notes. Heck, they even spilled over to my desk, lamp, and any other space I could stick a yellow square.
A PT friend of mine referred to her own yellow sticky note covered desk as the “Sticky Note Monster.”
As wonderful as the sticky note reminders are, do you want to know the best part?
Crumbling them up and throwing it away in the trash. Ahhh, the feeling of accomplishment, to see your waste basket fill throughout the day with those little yellow pieces of satisfaction.
Now, of course, the question is . . . was I more productive? More efficient? Did the sticky notes allow me to stay on top of things and be more focused?
No! They did none of those things.
For me, it was a weird badge of honor to have a long to-do list. In my distorted world, busy meant successful.
I felt a jolt of energy every time I threw one of those notes away. A dopamine hit that went right to the “feel good” part of my brain. The same good feeling happens when I have sugar. (But let’s not kid ourselves . . . NOTHING compares to sugar!)
The question that still sloshed around in my brain: “Did these sticky notes, and the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction, actually get me the RESULTS I wanted?
For that answer, I looked at my operations and financial metrics. Was I achieving the results of…
- More Visits?
- More referrals?
- More profitability
- Better systems?
- A better, more productive staff?
- More time to work “ON” my business?
This idea of doing more with the hope of accomplishing more backfired. Not only did I not achieve the results I wanted for my practice, after the split-second dopamine hit wore off, I was exhausted, distracted, and overwhelmed.
What’s the point of being busy if you’re not getting results?
I realized that what I needed was NOT a desk covered with sticky notes. I needed a way to stay focused on the most important work . . . MY most important work, which produced the most results.
I asked myself two questions:
- How can I get back my energy, focus, and passion?
- How can I eliminate at least 50% of my sticky notes and get BETTER results?
I realized almost immediately that doing activities I didn’t particularly like or have a high skill for zapped my energy.
So, I wrote a list of all of the activities and tasks I didn’t like or lacked the skills to do well. Holy moly! A whopping 75% of my to-do’s were on this list. Answering the phone, calling insurance companies, doing payroll, handling PTO, ordering supplies, etc.
Just thinking about removing these non-energizing activities from my plate increased my energy and I began to feel better.
I also realized that if I could find someone else who actually enjoyed doing these activities, we would get a better outcome than if I continued doing them, AND I would feel better because I wasn’t doing this energy-draining work.
Next stop: Delegate
I began to find people who liked and had an aptitude for doing the stuff I didn’t want to do.
For example, my front-desk person took over answering the phones–all of the time. I outsourced my medical billing. I hired an amazing bookkeeper who handled my books, payroll, and budgets 1000 times better than I did.
I can hear you saying: That’s IMPOSSIBLE. Work is…work. I can’t just stop doing it. And I definitely can’t just CHOOSE THE WORK I LOVE TO DO and ONLY DO THAT STUFF.
Yes. You can.
I believe every business owner has the power to choose the activities they want to do. I mean, isn’t that one of the benefits of owning a business: you GET to CHOOSE?
Every practice owner has weekly activities they love, that give them energy and boost their creativity. And every owner has activities they don’t like to do, which drains their energy, causes overwhelm, and makes them very reactive.
The critical thing is to know what your high- and low-energy activities are—and to focus your time on the high energy stuff.
Here’s how you start.
- Make a list of ALL the stuff you do at your practice. I mean everything, from treating patients to taking out the trash.
- Label every single activity as either High Energy or Low Energy. Be ruthlessly honest as you go.
- One at a time, start offloading low-energy tasks from your plate. Start small. Go gradually. Take care to delegate the work to the right people on your team.
With a to-do list that’s only focused on high-energy activities, you’ll get more done in less time, see bigger and better results, and finally say goodbye to the Sticky Note Monster!
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By Jamey Schrier
PT, Founder & CEO, Practice Freedom U
July 16, 2020
6 minute read