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You Deserve To Take Time Off

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You’ve worked hard all year and you deserve time off during the holiday season.  Most private practice owners find themselves working longer hours and more days to accommodate Joe Public’s desire to get years’ worth of work completed before their holiday party or insurance benefits lapse.  You take the onslaught of patients now for fear that there are some big valleys up ahead in this roller coaster ride of client/patient flow.

The bottom line is, you deserve to take time off during this season.  Your family is home, kids are off, traditions are set and you shouldn’t miss any of it.  Additionally, there is a significant added value to taking a break as it replenishes your energy, resets your biological system, and gives you balance to long, hard-working days.  Exactly what the mind, brain, body, and spirit needs for effective stress management. 

Here are the steps to make sure you can stressLESS and take time off.

1. Prepare for your departure. 

This is relatively easy as most private practice owners do this in some fashion at the end of each day or as they are leaving for the weekend.  Preparing for your departure on vacation is not any different, it’s just a longer timeframe.  Here are just a few examples

  • Make a team schedule of who will be manning the phones.
  • Review emergency protocols with the team in advance (client/patient needs, office issues, etc).
  • Set performance expectations during vacation hours.
  • Update all charts, notes, files.
  • Call labs/vendors/partners to ensure all cases will be complete and delivered prior to your return.
  • Complete all large cases and don’t start time-sensitive cases right before leaving.
  • Clear desk of all papers and finish task-list items.
  • Partner with a local colleague for on-call needs.

2. Be updated, not contacted. 

The trouble with taking a vacation and advanced technology is that you really can never getaway.  Your team can text you while you lay on the beach, send emails while your flying 30K feet in the air, and share client/patient info as you connect remotely into your server.  The purpose of taking time off is to decompress and reset which is difficult to do when you’re consistently bombarded with work contacts. Set yourself up to only be updated and not contacted while your away.

Being updated is different than being contacted because it puts you in control of when you receive the information.  Texts, emails, Facebook messages are all pushed to your phone automatically so you have no control of delivery.  You don’t want to be having a great time and all of a sudden get a message about team drama or a client complaint.  Here are some processes to put into place that will empower you and put you in control.

  • Make it very clear that at no time are you to be contacted unless listed as an emergency (be sure to define for your team: office fire or destruction, theft, legal issues, etc).
  • Create an opportunity for the team to update you via: Google Drive where each team member can have an open document to update around their own department and you have free access to comment; Google Calendar where the team can add when deliveries arrived, cases were completed, clients/patients that called each day and resolution, and more; Google Drive or Dropbox for any pictures, videos, or saved documents that are time-sensitive.
  • Set boundaries for yourself and commit to only viewing updates at certain times each day or at exact points of your vacation.

3. Prepare for Your Return. 

Here’s the other half of the equation often overlooked. To keep worried and fear of overwhelming at bay it is important you prepare to return to work before you leave.  By having specific plans proactively laid out you reduce the number of surprises and stressful moments you walk into upon your return. 

  • Review all client/patient charts of the entire week you return.
  • Call clients/patients with larger or more complex cases and see what questions they might have prior to their appointment.
  • Make a to-do list of any tasks you want your team to complete upon your return (cleaning, admin organization, marketing efforts, client/patient calls).
  • Intentionally set up your schedule upon return that allows you to ease back into work (schedule light the first hour or two, schedule clients/patients that you know and like, no new clients/patients first thing, avoid intense work until the afternoon).
  • While you’re gone, have team update you via Google Calendar with any clients/patients that were added to your schedule within the first 48 hours of your return.  They can attach documents and other information that allows you to review and prepare yourself.
  • Set a longer team meeting your first morning back for further updates, review of task lists, celebrate goals, and share stories.

Taking time off doesn’t have to be filled with fret and worry.  Follow these ideas, while adding your own, and you will be able to take the time off you deserve and enjoy it.

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