Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. 

While it’s true on the face of it, a little deeper down, everyone has different responsibilities that whittle that time down. If you ever look around at everyone else and wonder how they get it all done or if it feels like you’re struggling to finish the bare minimum, it might be time to take stock of how you are spending your time.

As business owners, it can be especially easy to believe that we need to be personally involved in every aspect of our business from customer service to finances. However, this can quickly lead to burnout if we’re not careful.

While some people might think the idea of ‘self-care’ is a little indulgent, it’s important for us to ensure that we are being thoughtful about how we spend our time. Is what we’re doing increasing our happiness and energy? Or depleting it?

Burnout can be a real problem for professionals and this is especially true in the dental world.

Running on the treadmill of burnout.

When you are nearing the verge of burning out, it can begin to feel like you have to be working 24/7. You start to sleep less. Sleeping less might actually begin to feel like the solution to your problems. You might get snappy with family and coworkers. You stop doing hobbies that make you happy. You drop habits that give you energy like exercising and making meals at home.

Once you get to this point, you’re teetering on the precipice of burnout.

We can start to believe that others are working harder than we are and that’s why they’ve succeeded. If you peel back the curtain, anybody successful that you know isn’t doing it all themselves. What we see on TV and social media isn’t the full picture. Successful people have a team behind the scenes. They delegate a lot. They have people that support their weak areas or support them by completing the tasks they hate to do, or aren’t very good at.

Unfortunately, pushing yourself to work harder and longer isn’t the key to winning this battle. Really, the opposite is true. You need time away from work to refuel and re-energise yourself. It means getting a good night’s sleep. It means eating healthy food that fuels your body and mind three times a day.

Procrastination comes hand in hand with burnout.

Procrastination is not limited to burnout, but burnout usually comes with an element of procrastination.

When I was feeling burnt out, I procrastinated. I put off doing things that needed doing because I was overwhelmed and already working very long days.

But procrastination speaks to an emotional piece of time management. It’s not just about being as effective as possible, but noticing why you are procrastinating. Procrastination can be freezing or task avoidance.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

The first step is to recognise what is overwhelming you. Figure out what resonates with you. Figure out what resonates with the emotion behind what’s getting in your way.

These emotions get in the way of us doing things that we know we can do. When we are overwhelmed, it leads to procrastination. It’s this feeling of, “I don’t know where to start. There’s too much to do. I just can’t think straight.” It’s important to notice when this happens. Are you writing the same task down in your schedule over and over again? Is there something you were supposed to do a week ago that’s still not done?

Then ask yourself why?

Be clear about it. Why are you putting it off? If you find it boring or tedious, it might be a good task to hand off to somebody else.

“If you don’t create space for those roles then the little, itty-bitty tasks that you don’t enjoy are just going to creep up like ivy, getting into all corners of your life like weed.”– Dr. Jesse Green.

Make space for what’s important by pruning what’s not.

We’ve all had tasks that we’ve had to drag ourselves to do. Sometimes it can feel hard to delegate it to somebody because, “Oh my gosh, they’re going to see this messy part of my life.”

Well, guess what?

When you find the right person for your task, it’s what they love to do. So let them do it. Let them be in their zone of genius so that you can be in yours.

Getting clear on what you can hand off can help steer you away from reaching a place of burnout and exhaustion. Think about what you can hand off. Think about what you procrastinate on. Those tasks tend to be good options for delegation. If you hate doing the bookkeeping, get someone else to do it. Handing off these tasks, as important as they may be, to someone you can trust frees up your time to pursue what’s important to you.

As I said above, you only have 24 hours. Choose how you want to spend that time. If it’s not bookkeeping, then there’s no shame in that. Create space for the things and roles that matter to you.

Final Words…

Break the rules. Do what works for you.

Everyone is different. Some people will thrive on the business aspects of a dental practice. Others will always be clinicians at heart and will love the art of dentistry and not so much the art of balancing numbers.

But the great thing about being an entrepreneur and running your own practice is that you can create your own rules. Don’t stop yourself from doing something that works for your because “that’s not the way it’s done”. The only right way is the way that works best for you.

Building a solid foundation around you with the right team to take on the tasks that are weak points for you is a great way to head off exhaustion and burnout.

You can step off the treadmill and feel truly productive and inspired.