A lot of the advice you receive for running a productive practice tells you to do more. More procedures, more patients, more partners—because having more things means more money, right? Wrong. You only need to add one behavior to make your life and your practice more productive—taking time to think. When you’re moving too quickly, there’s no time to think and plan about the future, so it just doesn’t happen. Then the weight of responsibility becomes heavier and heavier until you get overwhelmed. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur, so don’t let the pressure keep you down. For the sake of your ability to run the practice, take a clarity break.
The idea of clarity breaks comes from Gino Wickman’s Traction, who writes that you need to get away from all the static in your life so that you can give negative space to the world and think about how you want the next chapter to be. When you take a clarity break, you’ll find yourself more focused, more productive, with more clinical hours, and enjoying life more. As Kirk says, “You’ve got to be able to land your airplane with your team and think better before you go to work.”
Focus on Your Priorities
There’s so much involved in running a practice, so it’s easy to get lost in the current and be pulled in a million different directions. And that makes it difficult to think about how to run your practice effectively. You need to prioritize—focus on your biggest, hairiest, most audacious goal for the quarter, and keep it in the forefront of your mind so you can work on it the most. Less is more when it comes to priorities; if you have five areas you’ve prioritized, you’re splitting your attention five ways, so they won’t get done or be done as well as a singular goal. What we do at ACT to stay focused is take one week per quarter to meet as a team and get our priorities straight. When we get lost and focused on the busyness of the day, we lose sight of our goals.
It’s About Time
When you’re able to devote time to your priorities, your practice will drastically improve. Ask yourself why some dentists can produce $1500 each hour—is it because they’re just better dentists? Of course not. But they do see the hours differently and are able to utilize them more effectively, and that’s because they take the time to think and regain clarity and focus. I cannot understate the importance of taking time to think—the highest producers we work with schedule two hours of clarity breaks with their teams each week. Not only does it give you time to come together as a team to discuss ways to improve the practice, but your team will appreciate the ability to slow down and take a break from the daily grind. It may seem counterproductive to not be actively working on patients, but taking the time to plan and focus will save you thousands of clinical hours each year. Kirk says that “Time is the new rich now,” so slow down and give yourself more. If you want a life to go along with your business, you absolutely need to take regular clarity breaks.
Make it a Habit
If you want to implement clarity breaks into your life, you need to make them part of your routine, so they become second nature. Don’t just try clarity breaks—schedule them. Like sleep, clarity breaks aren’t optional; you need to be intentional and deliberate about them. I like to use my Apple Watch and the Mindfulness app to remind me to take time to focus each day, but there are many alternatives. You need something that reminds you to get in the right frame of mind for your day, so anything that gets you to shut off your brain for even just a minute is good. If you need someone to hold you accountable, work with a coach or put yourself in a group of like-minded individuals. ACT’s To The Top Study Club is an awesome resource to give you an opportunity once per quarter to get out of your practice and help you think differently with more clarity. You need to put yourself in an environment where your brain can get the nourishment it needs—your hands can only do so much, but your brain has infinite potential.
When it comes down to it, there’s no one secret to overcoming the pressure of running a practice. Rather, it’s your patterns, values, and what you do every day that determines who you become. Contact the ACT team today and let us help you make clarity breaks a regular part of your life. Your thinking will improve, you’ll be able to prioritize your goals, and you’ll give yourself a Better Practice, and a Better Life!
Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT.