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Practice Managers: 4 Tips for Getting Your Workload Under Control

Updated: Jun 13

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:

  1. Do Now;

  2. Schedule;

  3. Delegate/Automate;

  4. Delete.

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.

Take Action!

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 Advice on Tips for Getting Your Workload Under Control in 2024

How can practice managers involve their team members in the process of delegating tasks and responsibilities?

Practice managers can involve their team members in the delegation process by first conducting a collaborative meeting to discuss the workload and identify areas where team members can contribute. Clearly explain the 80/20 rule and the Urgent-Important matrix to provide context. Encourage team members to express their strengths, interests, and preferences and use this information to assign tasks that align with their skills. Provide necessary training and resources to ensure successful task completion. Regularly review progress and offer feedback to maintain open communication and ensure everyone feels valued and supported in their roles.

What criteria should practice managers use to determine which tasks are truly critical to their role and which can be delegated or automated?

Practice managers should determine task criticality by evaluating the task's impact on practice operations, client satisfaction, and regulatory compliance. Tasks that are both urgent and essential to maintaining these areas, such as budgeting, staff management, and strategic planning, are critical and should remain under the manager's purview. Tasks that are routine, repetitive, or administrative, like inventory control or scheduling, can often be delegated or automated. Additionally, consider the unique expertise required and whether team members have the capability to handle the task effectively, ensuring optimal use of resources and time management.

How can practice managers ensure that delegated tasks are completed accurately and on time?

Practice managers can ensure delegated tasks are completed accurately and on time by first clearly defining expectations and deadlines for each task. Provide thorough training and resources to equip team members with the necessary skills. Implement a robust system of regular check-ins and progress reviews to monitor task completion and address any issues promptly. Utilize project management tools to track assignments and deadlines, ensuring visibility and accountability. Encourage open communication and feedback, fostering a supportive environment where team members feel comfortable seeking guidance and clarification when needed.

How might practice managers need to modify their workload management strategies based on the size, specialty, or growth stage of their practice?

Practice managers should tailor workload management strategies based on the practice's size, specialty, and growth stage. In smaller practices, managers might handle a broader range of tasks and should prioritize cross-training staff to cover multiple roles. For specialized practices, focus on delegating administrative tasks to allow more time for complex, specialty-specific duties. In rapidly growing practices, implement scalable systems and processes, such as project management tools and automation, to manage increased workloads efficiently. Regularly reassess and adjust strategies to ensure alignment with the evolving needs and goals of the practice.

What metrics can practice managers track to assess the impact of their workload optimization efforts on key outcomes like productivity, profitability, or job satisfaction?

Practice managers can track several metrics to assess the impact of workload optimization efforts. Productivity can be measured by monitoring the number of tasks completed, appointment throughput, and client wait times. Profitability metrics include revenue per employee, cost savings from efficient task management, and overall practice profitability. Job satisfaction can be gauged through employee turnover rates, regular staff surveys, and feedback during performance reviews. By analyzing these metrics, managers can identify areas of improvement and ensure their strategies are effectively enhancing productivity, profitability, and employee morale.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

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