by Bill Blatchford, DDS
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We are caught up in the electronic age, never really taking a full vacation or taking time for an original thought. There are Internet kiosks on the ski slopes and at the beach, and we have e-mail on our phones 24/7. If we allow it, someone can reach us every minute. Our whereabouts can even be tracked on this earth. We love it; we hate it; we can't seem to escape it. We use our practice and work as an excuse to be so “involved.”
What are we really accomplishing by being a slave or servant to the Internet, our cell phones, and the dental forums? Who are we anymore? Are we really forwarding the action or filling in time because we feel we must answer when someone calls? Are we real or are we becoming robots?
In a simpler time, L.D. Pankey spoke of the importance of finding balance to make life worthwhile. He knew dentistry could be all-consuming if we allowed it. The “Cross of Life,” he espoused, with happiness at the core, is a balance between love and worship, work and play.
His inference and warning is that our work can erode and corrupt all other endeavors, leaving us out of balance. In most instances, our practice rules the roost. We let our work and preparation for work interfere with family time, vacations, and spiritual pursuits.
In these changing times, the first impulse is spend more time at the office, which will bring in more income. Unless you are turning people away and simply can't treat them, spending more time at the office is a fallacy. Especially during challenging times, we need balance to be refreshed and ready for a full day at the office.
How do we live in today's world and stay balanced? We need to be motivated to change our lives and achieve better balance. We are in control of our time. We make the choices. Some people say, “I wouldn't know what to do with free time,” “I need to be more successful so I can take time off,” or “I don't feel comfortable unless I am working.” They ask, “How can working less create more income?” We actually sabotage ourselves from being balanced. We choose to work instead, out of guilt, fear, or the unknown. We are choosing imbalance.
Dr. Evelyn Teague of Birmingham, Ala., has been a high achiever all her life. As a dentist, she continued to work exclusively on her practice, forsaking her personal time.
“After my Summit with the Blatchfords, I have been making every effort to concentrate on living and not just working. Now I have blocked several weeks off. The idea is not how much time you are in the office, but how productive you are when you're there. To be honest, this has caused me much stress. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what I will do with my time off. It feels like I am not being productive if I am not working. I have to learn how to live.”
Let me share with you how free days, buffer days, and work days can actually increase your income. You increase your income when you are sharp, focused, and well-rested. You need time away to have original thoughts, ideas, and preparation for work. You need total relaxation time — free from work — to be excited about your work when you do return. This is a real challenge that I am working on too.
Let's define the days:
- Work days are when the dentist is totally engaged at work with patient care. As Dr. Kevin Rykard of Oklahoma City says, “hands in the mouth.”
- Buffer days are preparation-to-work days when you network, cross-train, create systems, study numbers, make big decisions, communicate, and read.
- Free days are free from work and preparation so you can refresh and return stimulated. A free day is 24 hours. You do not need to go anywhere, but you cannot go to the office, turn on PC Anywhere, answer business e-mails, or return calls.
We are so out of the habit of having absolute free time. Isn't that a shame? Finding real balance is a challenge. If you could increase your income and your happiness, are you up to the challenge of finding balance?
Dr. Bill Blatchford, a dental business coach, showcases balance, leadership, systems, vision, and teamwork in his new book “Blatchford BLUEPRINTS,” available April 15. Visit www.blatchford.com for presale of $39. Author of “Playing Your ‘A' Game,” Dr. Blatchford can be reached at (888) 977-4600 or www.blatchford.com. His daughter is graduating from OHSU in June.