One would think time management is the same for everyone…
Managing time should be no different, no matter if you’re employed, working for someone else, or if you’re working for yourself.
But once you take your microscope and take a close look at the two scenarios, it becomes clear that there is a difference.
When accepting employment with a practice (or company), you’re stepping into a pre-defined environment. The majority of choices have been made for you.
You, as the employee, are expected to follow what’s deemed important for the position you are filling. Consequently, managing your time focuses on what’s expected from you.
Not so when you’re the boss…
To be specific, there are two major differences and challenges when it comes to managing your time when self-employed. I like to refer to them as the “What” and the “How”.
Learning to manage your time along the “What” and the “How” of your practice may well be the difference between success and failure.
Unlike your employed counterpart, there is no supervisor or clinic director telling what to do in your practice. There are no directions or guidelines telling you what you have to get done each day to succeed in your “job”.
Of course, there is no job description and there are no reviews… The only feedback is from your patients, employees, and ultimately the financial success of your practice.
You have the added chore of figuring out exactly what needs to get done if you and your practice are to succeed.
In other words, it’s up to you:
- To decide what products and services you will offer to patients (customers).
- How to market your practice to attract new patients.
- To define the core structure of your business, its backbone.
This is the nitty-gritty, the core activities of the business. These are structured around the services offered by the practice. For most practices, this revolves around patients, billing, referrals, etc.
Employed NPs are used to operating within certain parameters. How many patients they are expected to see per day, how much time they can reasonably spend with each, which days and hours they will be working…
Most don’t spend much time (if any) wondering if the number of patients seen each day will support the financial goals of the practice.
However you, the self-employed Nurse Practitioner, need to think about the number of patients seen… You must ask if that number is going to support and grow your practice.
Unlike your employed counterpart, no one tells you how many patients you have to see each day. Nor does anyone limit the time you get to spend with every patient.
And of course, there is no one telling you when or how to bill for your services… and certainly, no one to do it for you.
You decide how to structure and implement your core business activities. You alone decide what products and services to offer in your business and how to deliver them. And it’s your decision and responsibility to get it all done.
While this level of responsibility can be challenging and even scary at times, it also means there is room for change…. Because if something is not working the way you think it should, you are free to change it.
It’s as simple as that… After all, there is no one telling that you can’t!
Of course, as a self-employed practice owner, your role is not limited to seeing patients alone. You must also make time for and give attention to the services you offer and how to market them effectively.
Additionally, you must think about the best way to deliver these services. After all, you want to grow your practice and have satisfied patients returning to your office.
All of it drains your time and demands your attention! Hence managing your time has never been more important… that is if you want to succeed in the long run.
Since you are the boss, it’s twice as important for you to manage your time effectively. If you don’t learn to do that, you may put the health of your practice at risk.
Over time you may even put your health at risk. Functioning as both, the boss and provider could add a large dose of stress and never ending demands to your life.
What follows are five time management strategies of particular importance to you, the boss. They go beyond daily to-do lists and help you focus on big picture thinking.
- Be clear on what you want for your business and yourself… Structure your business around it. Stick to your guns and don’t get sidetracked. If you do what you truly enjoy, running your business will be easier and a lot more fun.
- Set priorities in your business… Not having any priorities result in ending up – somewhere. You’ll find that most decisions become are easier when you have clear priorities to guide you. It also takes less energy and time when managing day-to-day affairs aligned with your priorities.
- Learn to delegate… Let your staff do what they are good at doing. If you have no staff, consider hiring out what can be hired out. It’s not feasible to do everything yourself, nor is it always the smartest thing to do.
- Learn to manage distractions… Today it’s easier than ever to get pulled into a million directions. Don’t give in to that… it’s a time drain. Stick to your priorities and what you know needs to get done.
- Learn to say “No”… This can be a tough one. Learn to say no to patients and employees alike. When you’ve said “No” to a patient, stick to your guns and don’t allow your practice to be sucked into the drama. When you’re busy working on a task and don’t want to be interrupted, let your employees know and don’t allow them to interrupt you. Once interrupted, it takes much energy and time to get back to full concentration.
Most people dream of being their own boss… being in charge of what they do.
But as you’ve seen, it can be challenging just the same. There is no accountability when there is no boss telling you what to do and it’s up to you to make sure it gets done.
Because you’re the boss… wearing two hats. You provide the services and see to it that the practice grows and thrives.
This means you have to have a good handle on what to do and how to get it done. Not only must you know what to do, you must also be able to structure your time so that it all gets done.
We’d love to hear from you… Tell us what you think and share what YOU do to better manage your time.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians” and a regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.