Dental office managers wear somewhere close to 1 million hats when it comes to what they oversee. If that’s your role, you may often feel stretched thin. Assessing your time management can often slip between the cracks of keeping the staff on track, ensuring the dentist is up to date, and triple checking claims and your office’s books. To help, we put together a list of helpful apps and tools to see where you can get back an hour or two a day just by staying organized.
Start with Strategy
Discovering which task absorbs too much of your day can seem daunting. One helpful framework to start with is MIT's SMART goal structure. Start with understanding what your specific goal is, such as making more time so you can focus on marketing your practice. Make sure your objective is measurable. Most time management tools will not have an instant effect on your office, so making sure that you are realistic about attainable outcomes will relieve some of that pressure. If you find holes in your workflow and decide to share them with the rest of the office, make sure those items are relevant to their roles. If you find that one of the tools below would work well for all of your staff, give them a time-bound way to implement it into their jobs.
Activity Tracking Worksheets
Tracking how you spend your time each day is a great way for you to start seeing any tasks that could be delegated or possibly dropped entirely. If you’re hesitant to learn new software, log your daily tasks on either Gmail or Outlook’s calendars or even a physical calendar at your desk.
While tasks in your existing calendars can easily be tracked on your own, it’s helpful to use other digital tools that are already set up for this purpose. Clockify is a free manual time tracker with the ability to share information with your staff. You and your staff can log how much time you are spending on each task. This will allow you to see what processes are taking up the majority of your office’s time unnecessarily.
If you don’t think that you will remember to actually check in and out between tasks, then a program that automatically tracks your time may be better suited. TrackingTime runs in the background and logs your time for you. The only disadvantage is it will only show what you are doing on your computer and doesn’t account for to-do items that are not digital.
Alternatively, SmartSheet has a few great activity log templates that you can use in either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Their 24-Hour Activity Log and Daily Planner templates are good for tracking your day-to-day.
If you’re a more visual thinker, SmartSheet’s Time Management Chart breaks everything down into a pie chart of where you spend your time. SmartSheet also has an Employee Schedule Template if need help scheduling your staff.
Task Management Applications
Another great way to keep watch of your daily tasks is to start using a task management application. Many of these are just digital forms of paper to-do lists that help you organize multiple projects at the same time and have free versions of their software.
Wunderlist and Todoist are great if you’re looking for something similar to a basic to-do list that you can access on either your computer or as an app on your phone. Similarly, Remember the Milk notifies you when the due date is coming up. If you want a task manager that syncs with other members of your team, Trello and Asana are good options.
One of the easiest things you can do to free up time in your day is speeding up how you communicate with your staff. If you’re relying on emails, you’re waiting on your teammate to physically be at a computer. If you have a large practice and are relying on in-person communication, you might be wasting time having to track individuals down.
If you aren’t already using some form of an intra-office chat application, Slack is a great free option that is HIPAA compliant. Slack works on either a computer or through an app on your phone or smartwatch, pushing notifications to the latter. One of the nicer features of Slack is the ability to break up conversations based on topic and add the relevant team member to those conversations.
Remember that while you may find productivity tools that work for you, they will be less effective if you don’t adopt the right behaviors to make use of them. Identifying what tasks are important to the success of your practice and learning to delegate the tasks that don’t require your personal touch will enable you to take control of your workweek.