Don’t Text and Drive (Your Dental Practice)

Dental procedures require focus.  You concentrate on the task at hand and you do not want to be interrupted.  However, when it comes to managing the practice, there is a tendency to multitask.  Many doctors grab a few minutes of desk time and then overload their circuits.  They text, read e-mails, go through their stacks of stuff, talk on the phone, and try to carry on a conversation with an employee and make management decisions.

What’s wrong with this picture?  In their illuminating book entitled The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Gary Keller and Jay Papason point out the fallacy of multitasking.  It turns out that the brain, like any given computer, has a limited amount of computing capacity. When we multitask, we end up doing several things not nearly as well as we could do one thing.  Research shows that distractions are interruptions that slow us down, detract from the quality of work, and ultimately make tasks longer and harder to complete.  That’s why it’s dangerous to text and drive a vehicle, and why it’s also not good for the health of your practice for you to text or otherwise multitask while managing your business.

When management is just one more ball to juggle, it does not get the attention it deserves.  Decisions are rushed or delayed, employees do not get clear direction or feedback, and problems fester.  By attempting to do too much at one time, not enough time and energy are focused on the complex task of management.  The result is that small management problems are easily glossed over and until they grow into large problems that threaten employee morale and practice production.

There are two solutions.  First, management has to be a priority.  When you are making business decisions, you need the same clarity, focus, and sense of purpose that you bring to the task of establishing an accurate diagnosis for a patient.  Second, you need to have an office manager—even in a small practice—who handles administrative matters and calls your attention to important issues for decision making.

At any given time, the one management task that you are trying to accomplish is important.  Focus.  Give it your all.