BY Kara Vavrosky, RDH
Staying organized at work is the number one way to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. However, staying organized can become difficult once you are in the middle of your day while seeing back-to-back patients. It can feel like there isn't any time to get caught up when a new patient comes in immediately after the previous one.
Fortunately, some simple steps can help effectively manage your time and set yourself up for both an organized and efficient day. Proper time management will lead to less stress by decreasing those feelings of being constantly rushed.
Other articles by Vavrosky
- Think like an entrepreneur: Expanding career horizons requires a mindset
- Envying a colleague in the dental office
- Are You a Prima Donna? How do dental hygienists shed the stereotype?
To start off, it's important to understand that effective time management begins with planning ahead and knowing what is coming your way. Planning ahead will help you organize your tasks, activities, and thoughts so that you have a feeling of control, even when everything else feels hectic. It's important to constantly review your schedule for the next couple of days, seeing if there are any special needs or "difficult" patients scheduled back-to-back.
If you notice that you are consistently having these types of patients scheduled one after the other, talk to the front desk and explain that it would help make things run much smoother if those patients could be spread throughout the day. The front desk may not even realize they are doing this to you, and simply scheduling patients in a different order can make a world of difference.
Knowing what is coming up on your schedule can help you prepare ahead of time For the most part, though, it just helps to be mentally prepared for what's coming your way. One of the best ways to use your time efficiently to stay organized is to spend some time at the end of the day preparing for the next day. Set up your trays, check, and restock all of your supplies, and maintain your equipment by immediately reporting any problems you notice, so it can get fixed right away. By taking care of these things the night before, you will have one less thing to worry about when you arrive back in the morning.
How your treatment room is set up is also a major factor in how efficient you are during the day. A trick I have learned is to organize everything so that it is within reach while I am seated. Although it might not seem like much, the time saved from having to stand up and sit down throughout the day adds up. It can also help avoid those awkward times when you can't quite find something, and you have to get up to look for it.
The reasons are probably obvious as to why hygienists would want an organized room, but there are also benefits for the patients as well. Patients rely on various clues in deciding whether they had a positive experience or not. One of the most overlooked aspects is the patient's view from the chair. Things can look organized from our perspective as hygienists, but a patient sees things from a different angle. If things appear messy and unorganized from their angle, they will have a different experience than what we are hoping to give.
Staying organized and on time throughout the day is a balancing act with many components. When one thing happens that causes us to get behind, it leads to a whole chain of events that can cause us to feel stressed and burned out by the end of the day.
I encourage you to spend a little extra time thinking about the areas you could improve when it comes to organization in your office. You may be surprised that with only a few tweaks in your methods, and spending a few minutes at the beginning and/or end of each day, your days will start to run much more smoothly. RDH
Kara Vavrosky, RDH, runs the popular Facebook page, Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, and is also the founder of DentalHygieneAnswers.com, a question and answer platform for dental hygienists. Kara serves on the Clinical Advisory Board of GoodMouth, a toothbrush subscription service, and the Advisory Board of Support Clean Dentistry, an initiative to raise awareness of cleanliness in the dental office. Kara currently works for a one-doctor, family-oriented practice in Portland, Oregon.