Do you know if you are being stretched too thin?
Let’s face it, life is busy. As a dental doss demands placed on us can be so high, and we can be pulled in what seems to be a million different directions. Often as dentists we are required to wear many hats each day, and we can be left asking if we really wear any one hat well.
Whether you work well over a 40 hour work week, have young children under your feet, are having to orchestrate both of these worlds, or are overwhelmed with something totally different, how do you know when too much is too much?
Overwhelmed Dental Boss
I found myself these past two weeks feel stretched thin, my to do list was huge and on top of that I’m hiring and onboarding new staff, implementing new systems and strategies into my business and getting ready to launch a new coaching program. As if that weren’t enough we have also been doing a major renovation on our home, which has had us living in rented accommodation for the past 7 months, the renovations nearly over and we will be moving in a couple of weeks. No wonder I feel overwhelmed.
What I notice for myself when I’m under the pump like this is I go into “must get the task done mode” which means I become all work and no play and forget to have fun, appreciate the people I work with and what I have accomplished. Exercise and good eating can also go out the window.
So what do I do? And what can you do to see that you’re being stretched thin before you get too stressed and sick from it and how can we come back and regroup and manage all the areas of running a dental office, being the dentist and having to do life and family too without missing out on fun.
Signs You’re Over Stretching
Well let’s firstly take a look at some signs that you are simply stretched too thin.
Do you find yourself:
- Eating a cookie, a cake or pastry, or a handful of chips (or whatever you can manage to grab from your pantry area as you walk past) and calling it a meal?
- Worse yet, are you skipping a meal or meals every day on a regular basis?
- Taking two months, or more, to read one book?
- Having a hard time remembering the last time you laughed a hearty belly-laugh?
- Feeding your family something from a drive-thru more times than you care to admit?
- Displaying a short fuse several times a day? Getting upset about the littlest of things when these same types of things used to roll right off your back?
- Forgetting basic things? Things like paying bills or keeping appointments?
- Gaining no satisfaction or happiness from things that you used to enjoy?
- Unable to feel emotion whether positive or negative as though your emotions seem to be controlled by a “mute button?”
- Can’t pinpoint anything that you have accomplished in the past week that gives you a sense of pride?
- Experiencing extreme exhaustion? – nodding off while driving to work, or between patients, falling asleep while reading a book, or feeling completely done and flat by lunchtime?
- Being regularly asked by family members or close friends if you are alright or if something is wrong?
- Experiencing weight fluctuations?
- Suffering with regular headaches or some other physical symptom?
- Feeling overwhelmed on a daily (or hourly) basis in a way that is out of character for you?
Can you relate to this are you nodding your head, are you experiencing these things happening to you???
Dental Boss Overwhelm – How To Fix It
What do you do if you find yourself answering yes in several of these areas?
While I can’t offer you a solution to your specific situation as the variables are endless, I can give you some things to think about that can get the ball rolling in restoring a more manageable lifestyle.
- Examine your daily work and areas of your life. Are there things that you can delegate to others. Go over your calendar, your daily list, your more long-range projects and ask, “which of these can only I do?” Then, delegate the tasks that can be done by someone other than you.
- Determine what your three most important priorities should be according to the phase of life and business you are currently in, and use that as your filter for determining what you do and what you don’t do every day. Your every day life must be in alignment with your overall priorities, goals, and objectives. If you are filling your calendar, your days, and your down time with things that do not support these things, they must go.
- Find three ways in which you can do things more efficiently. Maybe meal preparation ahead of time can help with making meals, planning ahead more, making lists maybe and scheduling some me time on the weekend. Discussing things with your whole team rather than one at a time. Planning your appointments so you have a good mix of patients and treatments to make your day run smoother and more productively.
- What desire, what dream, or what passion have been putting on hold? Maybe you have been dreaming of writing a book, maybe it implementing changes or a new idea in your dental practice, or maybe you have been wanting to volunteer within your community. It may seem counter-intuitive to take on something new if you are feeling overwhelmed, but squelching our spirits can take a huge emotional toll on us every day. Sometimes even just putting the wheels in motion to accomplishing our dreams can provide us with the sense of contentment we have been looking for.
- Take time every day for yourself. Taking time, even just 15 minutes, to do something that you enjoy. Don’t skip over breathing life into your own spirit thinking that will give you more time in your day. Doing so will only cost you much more in the long run.
Work Life Dentistry Balance
Life, work, running a business people, circumstances – these can all be so demanding of us, but being stretched too thin can affect our physical and emotional health in negative ways. Being vigilant in maintaining a sense of balance in our lives can help us make adjustments before things go too far.
Take a step back and examine where you are today. Then make some adjustments to achieve a more healthy lifestyle. This will benefit you and those around you in such a positive way.
I struggled for years to work out a schedule that worked. What I realised is I have to do things I enjoy and have fun doing them – this has made such an impact in my life and in my schedule.
What I do when I feel stretched thin is know that if something takes a few more days to complete then its ok the world won’t end, the other thing I do is let my team and my family know I have a lot on right now and I need some extra support – you’d be surprised how showing vulnerability makes people really want to help you!
I make sure I take 5 minutes to close my eyes and breath and be with myself and schedule regular breaks to do things I enjoy – like standing in the sun for a few minutes – see it can be really simple.
When we have so many hats to wear and things to juggle we need to be focussed and structured but we can’t loose sight of enjoying everything we do. When we loose the fun factor we start to feel stretched thin even if we aren’t.
I’ve learned how to create a morning and evening routine that works, and that I don’t have to feel guilty about making priorities and sticking to them, even if that means saying no to some very good things as well as people that I love. I was reaffirmed in knowing that I can give to others only if I have given to myself first. Otherwise, there is nothing left to give.
So how does this play out in your dental office, how can you work out ways to ask for help, get support from your team and create a schedule that works for you? What systems do you need to put into place and what steps do you need to take to implement and action those changes.
I know when we feel we have too much on its hard to step back and reflect but if we don’t then we are going to be caught in the same rut, working too hard for not enough reward and missing out on enjoying our lives.
Next time you feel stretched too think take a stop, ask what is most important right now, make a plan, schedule me time, ask for help and come up and smell the roses.