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How to increase productivity by setting better goals

As humans, we tend to procrastinate. At ACT, we see typical dental practices set goals and priorities in a way that procrastination becomes a genuine challenge. According to  Parkinson’s law , if given a week to complete a task that should only take a day to finish, individuals will often end up unnecessarily stretching out, (or completely procrastinating) and therefore taking the whole week to complete the job! Here we discuss the five ways to effectively beat Parkinson’s law in a dental practice and ultimately work less but get more done.


Break your Priorities Down Into Smaller Tasks

Parkinson’s Law always strikes the hardest when you have enormous tasks with far-away deadlines. Setting quarterly priorities, 1 year targets, and 3 year targets. (See “Traction,” by Gino Wickman) is extremely important, but don’t miss the critical step of breaking your priorities down into small, attainable tasks.  Significant goals can’t come to fruition overnight, but we can break them down into smaller steps that get us closer and closer to that end goal.  Similarly to performing a procedure on a patient, you need to have a step-by-step process to achieve the ideal outcome.

Define What Success Looks Like

Set a metric for your goal and each step to accomplish it. Measurables help us know when we can mark an item as complete! An easy way to increase productivity is to have a number(s) for every team member. Avoid setting vague goals and be intentional about steering your practice towards the desired destination. You can read more here about smarter goal setting.

Create Systems

We all love a checklist. We love it, even more, when we can mark when something has been completed. Our free systems guide Is available to download and will help you create systems that make sense to you in your practice. The best way to improve time management is to create a simple checklist that any team member would be able to complete if given that task.

Challenge Yourself and Your Team

Do not settle for mediocre results. Yet don’t set yourself up for failure, either. When setting timelines and goals, look at what you have been able to achieve historically, rather than just creating plans and setting goals with no analysis of what is possible. If you implement the system correctly with achievable steps, you will see room for improvement. Be sure to plan for obstacles as well, you will inevitably run into issues throughout the progress of any goal. Do you have a system in place to address these issues? We again rely on Traction here for one of the best tips we’ve implemented within our team here at ACT Dental. Issues need attention, no doubt, but do you have an organized way to handle these problems or do you find yourself constantly pulled in all directions? Don’t settle for “below-the-line behavior.” We addressed this behavior in the following article:  The Number One Reason Why Dentists Don’t Achieve Their Goals

Under-Promise then Over-Deliver

Set yourself up for success by scheduling to accomplish your priorities weeks prior to your target dates.  It is imperative that you set realistic timelines at the beginning of the task and goal creation.  Implementing this step will eliminate the stress of deadlines. When the task is created, have the team member take it to 80%, then have them get input and assistance from other members of the team to go beyond that first 80% to an improved version.

Job descriptions, timeframes, and goals should always be growing and changing along with your practice. Revisit them at set intervals with your team to clarify and make modifications as needed. Following these steps will ensure a better practice and a better life.


About the Author: Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental. She is also a dental hygienist, motivational speaker, and writer. With over twenty years of serving in different roles in dentistry, she combines her experience to provide our community with best practices for a better life.


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