It is that time of year when Christmas music plays at every store, twinkly lights adorn your city, the scent of cinnamon and pine hangs in the air, and everyone seems to be in a slightly better mood! For many people, this time of year is exciting! But for physicians, it is very stressful. Why? Well, it is hard enough running a practice, now add the pressure of taking time off, spending time with family, and NOT checking email every ten minutes. This can leave you questioning, “How will everything get done!?” Not to worry! Here are a few tips that will help you enjoy the holidays while running a practice.
Define Your Availability
World-class entrepreneurs like Mike Michalowicz often talk about the importance of taking an extended vacation away from work, but even they had difficulty doing so at one point! In fact, it was sometimes even hard for them to enjoy weekends, and I have a sneaky suspicion that if you are reading this blog, it might be tough for you, too!
The trick is to start small and build from there. Also, understand that (in the beginning) you can be “away from the office” and give yourself a couple of hours throughout your designated “holiday” to work. The key is to clearly identify when you are willing to work and when you are not. Then, treat this like it is written in stone. If you are going to allow yourself 30 minutes a day to check email and make sure nothing is sinking, then make sure the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes are spent away from our computer!
Before you leave for the holiday, make a list of the major tasks that you do throughout the day. Next, determine which tasks need constant attention, and which ones can wait a few days. Once you have this list, start dividing the tasks and assigning certain ones to your staff!
When handing over the tasks, make sure you explain how to do it, and identify what qualifies as an emergency, which is the only time they are to contact you regarding this specific task. Make this crystal clear, that way they are confident when handling the tasks thus empowering them to make decisions.
Communicating Expectations with Staff and Clients
Once you identify the amount of time that you are willing to work and not willing to work, you have to communicate this with your staff and clients.
Set an Out of Office Response
Not only does this allow you to inform/remind people as to when you will be away and when you plan to return, it also gives you an opportunity to provide them with information as to who they can contact if they need to. Doing this gives people a sense of, “Wow! This person is thoughtful, and makes sure the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed!”
Pro Tip: Extend your out-of-office response at least one day after you return. This allows you some time to sift through your inevitably overloaded email before people start hounding you!
Hold a Staff Meeting Before You Go
During this meeting, you can lay down clear expectations as to when you plan to leave for holiday, and how much time you plan to “work” while on holiday. Take this time to explain what you will do while “working” (which is, essentially, making sure things are not burning down and possibly assigning additional tasks).
This meeting gives you a chance to explain who is in charge of specific tasks when you are gone. Not only does this empower the individual that you assign the task to, but it also gives a clear outline as to who your team needs to communicate with in regards to specific tasks/issues! Again, this type of information will empower your staff to step up when they need to.
Additionally, this meeting will also give you an opportunity to clearly explain the difference between an “emergency” (when they need to contact you) and a non-emergency.
Honor Your Word
It is really important that you honor your time off. Not only will this help you unwind and get a break from the practice, but it will also help you earn additional respect! Seriously, they will learn to respect your time which, in turn, has a massive, powerful ripple effect on your entire practice!
Final Thoughts – Enjoy the Holidays While Running a Practice
As business owners, it is super important to take a break… and we know this can be tough. So, do yourself a favor this and enjoy the holidays while running a practice. Again, start small and realistic! Over time, you can increase the number of days you will be AWAY and NOT WORKING!