Are You Tired of Other People Stealing Your Time?
Last Friday the top items on my task list were to design four new marketing pieces for our Medical Practice in the morning, and compile the February articles for MPS in the afternoon. In fact, those were my only goals for the day, but none of them happened. Instead, I allowed my day to be hijacked. My day started with an unexpected meeting at 7:30 a.m. By the time I walked into my office to begin my day, I was already 40 minutes “behind schedule”. Before I was even able to sit completely down in my chair, one of my colleagues came in and said, “I need your help.” The project she needed help with took me less than 5 minutes to complete, but the 20 minute conversation that followed ate into even more of my day. She left my office because my phone went off with a question from another colleague that took an additional 15 minutes of my time. Because I had been out of the office the day before working on in-field marketing training, I had 7 voicemails and 49 emails awaiting my response. Typically it would take me about an hour to get through those. But I ended up with 3 more colleagues needing my “immediate attention” for something they felt was pressing at the time. On top of that, I had one colleague pop-in to my office 3 more times that morning to tell me she had emailed me something (as though I wouldn’t see it in my email). By the time I left for a lunch meeting with a colleague, I felt completely drained and unaccomplished. I wish I could say the afternoon went better, but it was a similar repeat of the morning. Sound familiar? Last June I wrote an article called “The Cost of Not Paying Attention – Interruptions in your Work Day”. As I reread that article and pondered my lackluster productivity from that day, I realized it came down to several things. Over the next week I kept an “Interrupters Log” to help me figure out how to get my time back. As I analyzed it, I began to make a list of things I am going to implement to help keep me on track going forward. Below are some ideas you may want to borrow, too: 1. Check Email at Scheduled Times I now only check my email 3 times a day. First, when I arrive at work. Next, when I return from lunch. Finally, before I leave work for the evening. By doing this, I have found I am not tempted to stop what I am doing to answer another email or change my focus based off of an email from someone. As it turns out, if it is truly important, someone will call me to discuss it long before I read the email. 2. Start a “Talk-To” List I have started a “talk-to” list of topics I need to discuss with different team members as issues arise. The bad habit I had found myself in was running to their office whenever a question or need popped into my head. But as I pondered how interruptions affect my productivity, I realized I am equally as guilty at ruining their productivity. Now, when I have a list of questions or topics, I will either schedule a meeting with them, or send them an email asking multiple questions at once. 3. Work From Home Sometimes While I used to have an office to myself, I now share an office with two other individuals. This makes it impossible at times to simply close a door and focus. By scheduling times to work at home on projects where I know I need complete concentration without interruptions, I am able to accomplish more in less time. Within four hours of working at home one morning I had knocked out all of the projects I had scheduled but failed to accomplish on that aforementioned Friday. How Do Interruptions Affect Your Staff? If you are in a supervisory role, I encourage you to consider how interruptions in your staff’s workday are affecting them. Are your nurses being unnecessarily interrupted as they draw up medication? Is your front desk truly able to give a patient great customer service without another employee interrupting the interaction? Are your providers able to see patients as efficiently as possible, or are they being held back by needless interruptions? I realize that depending on which position you hold at your Medical Practice, all of these suggestions won’t be easy for you to implement. But by simply being aware that people are hijacking your time, no matter the position you hold, it will help you begin to find your own ways to get your time back.
Article By: Tina Bell Tina Bell is the Director of Marketing for HealthCARE Express®, where her responsibilities include spearheading the company’s social media and internet strategies, leading the in-house physician recruitment team, and developing aggressive programs to promote patient satisfaction and effective service recovery. Tina speaks nationally at industry conferences including the Medical Practice Association of America and the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals. She is the director of business development for Medical Practice Success and an independent Medical Practice marketing consultant.