As I have been talking to many healthcare practitioners, the one thing that strikes me is the common theme about trying to deal with lack of time. We are all time pressed these days, but if you work in healthcare I would wager there are a whole number of other challenges to be faced.
But based on the number of conversations I have had over the past four months to help understand how to improve their practices, it has begun to emerge that top performers in the space have developed certain methods for not only coping but thriving.
One of the key exercises that they have completed is a time inventory, which helps them understand what they do with their time and what the value of that time is. I’ve heard people say that there is $10/hr time, $100/hr time, and $1,000/hr time and delegating (or removing) the $10/hr time helps them focus more on the higher value tasks in their day.
For instance one of the way they do this is to divide their tasks:
- Productive, only-I-can-do tasks
- Wasted, of-no-value-to-office tasks
- Delegated, someone-can-help me-do tasks
Here is a chart of the types of tasks:
Quadrant 1: Quadrant of necessity
The upper left quadrant contains the tasks that are urgent and important. These are most likely the tasks you have to do or else there will likely be negative consequences. Usually these are deadline driven and/or time sensitive. On a daily basis, it its probably unrealistic to think that you could avoid tasks that fall in quadrant one. The key is to being able to manage these.
If you feel like you are fighting fires through the better part of your days, that’s a sign that you are spending too much time in this quadrant. You are just doing the things that bring you the short-term benefits whereas you want to shift investing more time in long-term solutions (see quadrant two).
Quadrant 2: Important and Not Urgent
You want to invest most of your time here in Quadrant 2. Tasks in this quadrant are in direct alignment to your business goals in the long-run.
But one thing the practitioners mentioned: everyone’s goals and dreams are different. What might be a quadrant two task for them, might not be for you.
What’s counterintuitive for a lot of practitioners is that things we often associate importance with a sense of urgency. That’s not the case. Your goals and dreams will be right where they are now and there is no urgency to achieving them within a specified timeline. Anything that benefits you in the long run could be considered in quadrant two.
Quadrant 3 – Not important and Urgent
This is often called the quadrant of deception because people think certain tasks are important while in fact they really are not.
Something which affects many practitioners is when someone asks you to do something but that does not directly help you achieve your goals. The key here is prevention by being able to say “no” to these people.
Often these sources cause distraction from the task at hand. For example, constantly checking your email inbox or responding right away to people on instant messenger.
Quadrant 4 – Not important and Not Urgent
This quadrant contains the tasks you want to avoid as much as possible. These are your time wasters. If you were able to identify this class of tasks and eliminate most of them, you would free up a lot of time you could otherwise invest in quadrant two tasks.
What these practitioners told me is it is really important to have endeavour to have a work/life balance. I know that sounds clichéd, but you need downtime to avoid burnout and that is where quadrant four comes in. The challenge is you allocate most of your time to quadrant two, with just enough of time spent in quadrant four to get by.
Becoming aware of time spent throughout the days and weeks that can really impact the bottom line. Becoming more efficient at scheduling and reminders, as well as other administration can help practitioners devote more time to generating a sustainable profitable business. But its more than just time management – several I have talked to have developed their own systems through several software platforms that assist in removing some of the administration work that takes up far too much of their time. That will be the topic of a future post, but for now, just becoming aware of how your time is spent can help you get a grip on how to spend less time that generates $10/hr and more time that hopefully generates $1,000/hr.