In episode 075 we discuss a decision funnel to determine how we should spend our time performing tasks in the practice. Our discussion is based on the book Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden. Check it out to see if procrastination may be right for you on this edition of Business of Dentistry!
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While this isn’t our usual type of show, I thought it was a good topic to share because so many of us procrastinate or have dealt with some type of procrastination in our lives (both business and personal). I’ve always been a proponent of procrastination so when I saw the title of Rory’s book I was intrigued. The more I listened to the audio version, the more relevance I could see in applying his principles to our businesses.
The easiest way to break this down for you is to explain the funnel imagery Rory uses in Procrastinate on Purpose: first the tasks that need to be done come into the top of the funnel, this is also where the time you need to spend on those same tasks will come in, too.
Next these tasks and time for these tasks go through a series of filters. The first filter through that funnel is whether or not you can completely eliminate that task. In other words, do you actually need to do the task? If you took a task like surfing the web, Facebook, or other forms of social media then the answer would be no.
It’s something to think about as you go through your day: ask yourself if the task you’re working on is really necessary. Will it change anything today, or tomorrow if you don’t do it? Will it help you save time or be significant down the road? Social media is a great example of something that can be completely eliminated from your funnel.
The second level of the filter is for things you cannot eliminate. Ask yourself if you can automate it – can you put it on autopilot and set it up so you don’t have to manually do it every single time? An example of this is our office cell phone bill. I used to have to manually pay it, and it was frustrating and time-consuming to remember when to pay the bill and then to actually pay it.
So I decided to set up an automatic payment of the bill on the corporate credit card. Now it gets paid every month automatically, and I get a notification of when it is done. It’s completely hands off for me, unless I need to update the credit card information for some reason.
Now if you find you can’t eliminate or automate a task, then the next step in Rory’s funnel is delegation. This is something we have talked about on the show a lot. Some of us are good at delegation and some of us are not. But ultimately delegation will make you a strong leader and a better business person.
To find out if a task can be delegated, ask yourself if you are the only person in your practice who can do this particular task. If not, who else can do it?
For me, I am the only one in my practice who can do surgeries so I cannot delegate that task. But when it comes to things like payroll, bookkeeping or accounting, can I do those? I have in the past, and I can struggle through it. I’m not efficient or effective at it, but I can get it done when necessary. Today I delegate it to the professionals in an accounting firm.
In this book, Rory promotes delegation as another hallmark of a great leader because you are helping the person you delegate to by training them, pushing them outside of their comfort zone and helping them grow. Delegating to others improves you as a leader and improves the person you delegate to.
The final step in this funnel is tasks that only you can do. When you reach this point, you have to ask yourself if the task must be done right away, or if it can wait. In other words, is it something you can procrastinate on? Timing is key to this.
In my practice an example of this would be surgeries. If there was someone waiting in our office for their scheduled surgery, can it wait? Since I’m the only one who can perform this task, do I need to do it now or can it wait? Obviously I would perform the surgery right then at the scheduled time.
What about if you are a solo practice owner and you are thinking of expanding and bringing on another associate? The actual task of making this decision is something you would need to do. You cannot eliminate it, automate it nor delegate it – making this important decision is a task only you can do.
But do you have to do it when you have two patients waiting in your lobby? No, it can and should wait. It’s important to delay the task til you can schedule time to focus solely on that decision.
Those are some ideas Rory covers in Procrastinate on Purpose, and I like the way he brings them together in an easy-to-understand manner. I also like this book because I think it’s a good way to look at your upcoming day and prioritize items on your schedule.
On this episode, I also talk about when Rory encourages us to procrastinate, and when to take action, and why we all have to work every day to achieve our goals. I’d encourage you to read or listen to this book and Rory’s first book, after you listen to episode 75 of Business of Dentistry.
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