Let’s be honest. Practice managers keep our industry running – and that’s no easy feat. They juggle everything from recruiting and training staff to budgeting and payroll to inventory control and so much more. It truly is an all-encompassing role. Not surprisingly, it’s also a role that experiences a decent amount of burnout. To prevent this, practice managers should take proactive measures to gain control over their workload and optimize their time. Easier said than done? Not if you follow these key steps.
Get to Know the 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule holds that 20% of our actions are responsible for 80% of our achievements. Most people naturally assume that the harder they work, the more output they’ll generate. What they tend to forget, however, is that in these scenarios, the quality of that work ultimately suffers.
Contrarily, the 80/20 rule states that by strategically doing less, greater value can be generated. This is great news for busy practice managers who are feeling overwhelmed. So, how can this principle be put into action? The first step involves identifying which tasks and responsibilities you can comfortably hand off to someone else. This brings us to our next tip.
Perform a Workload Audit
Before you can apply the 80/20 rule in your day to day life, you must first gain a clear and accurate picture of all the tasks currently on your plate. Start by keeping a detailed journal of all of your work-related activities over the course of two weeks to a month. Be sure to include everything you do and specify whether it was performed during or outside business hours and/or whether it was actually part of your job description.
When the designated timeframe is up, go through and categorize the items on your list. For instance, organize your tasks by sections like staff management, inventory control, client relations, etc. Try to also think about any unlogged tasks that are less frequent and therefore might not have come up during your audit period, such as developing KPI’s, running financial reports and working on taxes. Categorize these items as well. Once you’ve got your list adequately organized, it’s time to move onto step three.
Use an “Urgent-Important” Matrix to Map Out Your Responsibilities
An Urgent-Important matrix – also known as the Eisenhower Matrix – is designed to help prioritize tasks by divvying them up into four quadrants. These quadrants run the gambit from critically important to inconsequential. Simply put, this activity will help you put your workload into perspective so you can finally get it under control once and for all.
To do this, draw out four boxes and label them as follows:
Place any tasks that are direct responsibilities of the practice manager and are both urgent and important (payroll, for instance) into the “Do Now” box. Then, list out all tasks and responsibilities that are important but not urgent and place them into the “Schedule” quadrant.
In the “Delegate/Automate” box, place any tasks that are urgent but not important. By “not important,” we mean tasks that don’t necessarily need to be performed by the practice manager. For example, printing and distributing reports is a task that must be done in a timely manner, but can easily be performed by another member of the team or possibly even automated.
At this point, the only items left on your list should be those that are neither important nor urgent. And now, you should be ready to move onto the final step.
With your Urgent-Important matrix in hand, the last step in the process is coming up with a game plan. The items in your “Do Now” box should be at the top of your daily to-do list, as they are the most urgent and important and likely critical to the successful operation of the practice. Items in your “Schedule” quadrant should be listed out in order of when they need to be completed and you should start carving out time on your future calendar to ensure that these tasks will be carried out.
Go through your “Delegate/Automate” list and start assigning tasks and responsibilities to the team members who are most suited for them. Leverage technology whenever and wherever possible to take some of these items off everyone’s plate. Once you’ve done all of this, you should be left with approximately 20% of the workload which, when focused on and completed, should generate 80% of the outcome. In other words, you’ll finally be working smarter instead of harder, and that’s the ultimate goal!
Our Tips, Tricks, and Expert Advice
How can a workload audit help in managing tasks better in vet practice?
A workload audit helps identify all tasks, categorize them, and reveal which ones can be delegated or automated, leading to better task management.
How can you take action to get your workload under control in a veterinary practice?
Use an Urgent-Important matrix to prioritize tasks, delegate or automate where possible, and create a schedule for completing important, non-urgent tasks.
How can strategic task management prevent burnout in vet practice managers?
Using the 80/20 rule and an Urgent-Important matrix, strategic task management reduces workload, improves focus, and prevents overworking, thus reducing the risk of burnout.
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