Time waits for no one, but it runs right by busy veterinarians.
It’s a common theme: it can be difficult for busy veterinarians to find the hours in the day to get everything done. There is, of course, always something else that needs doing – whether that’s an emergency appointment, a bit of pressing office organization, or the completion of that miscellaneous paperwork you’ve been putting off.
If you’re feeling stressed by time management as a veterinarian, we have a few words of encouragement.
First of all: you are not alone. Many veterinarians (and people in general) are in the same busy boat.
Second (and this is important): you can improve. You can get better at time management and recapture the time you need to restore your sanity.
Yes, veterinary practices are subject to unique and sometimes unpredictable time demands. But, these time management tips can help make those demands more feasible.
So, let’s dive in. Here are seven time management tips for busy veterinarians.
1. Get eight hours of sleep
Let’s start with the basics: get the right amount of sleep. For most people, that means getting a solid seven-to-eight hours each night.
Now, it’s true that some nights this won’t be possible. And, yes, it’s okay if you occasionally need to pull a late night based on unexpected circumstances. But a lack of sleep should be the exception and not the rule.
Getting adequate sleep is proven to improve your productivity – which means that sacrificing sleep to get things done is actually counterproductive. Furthermore, getting the right amount of sleep will boost your mood – so you’ll be less irritable and in a better position to deal with any stressors that come about during your busy day of practicing.
2. Schedule buffer time
For veterinarians, this tip can seem difficult to carry out. Scheduling buffer time feels impossible; after all, there already isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, and you have a list of appointments a mile long. Where will the buffer time come from?
Here’s the truth, though: we need buffer time. As much as you may want to, you can’t bounce from appointment to appointment and task to task without any time to stop and breathe.
In fact, if you try to do so, you’ll likely end up making mistakes – and that’ll mean you’ll spend valuable time working to correct things you’ve already done.
Buffer time ensures that you’re providing each patient with the optimal level of care and attention. Remember, it’s important to celebrate the value of each animal you treat, instead of viewing each appointment as one more box to check in a day full of them.
So, try scheduling one or two fewer appointments each day, and give yourself room to breathe, center yourself, and focus on doing your best work.
3. Plan for emergencies
Along the lines of scheduling personal buffer time between tasks, it can be helpful for busy veterinarians to add buffer time for emergency situations.
The thing about emergencies, of course, is that they’re never planned. You never know when a distressed client will require consolation, when a vet tech will require immediate assistance, or when a patient with what was suspected to be a minor issue will necessitate urgent and immediate care.
But, even if you can’t predict what form an emergency will take, you can plan for its occurrence. The truth is that, over time, you’ve probably gained a familiarity with different types of emergency events that take place in your veterinary practice – so, set things up as if you’ll be dealing with those issues each day. Don’t be caught off guard.
By designating time in your day for emergencies, you won’t feel overloaded when one occurs. And, if it doesn’t, you’ll be able to get ahead on any tasks you have coming up.
Failing to plan for emergencies, on the other hand, will always leave you scrambling.
4. Delegate tasks
It’s redundant, but true: people who are too busy are doing too much.
As we’ve mentioned, reducing the amount of appointments and tasks on your schedule and adding buffer times is one way to reduce the amount of work for busy veterinarians. Another way? Task delegation.
Many veterinarians feel an obligation to have a hand in everything that goes on at their practice. It’s understandable, but it’s harmful in the long run. You only have so many hands, after all.
The most effective veterinarians are the ones who’ve learned how to delegate tasks to the appropriate people. They trust their office administrator to manage paperwork; they trust their vet techs to perform technical tasks. Of course, the reason that they trust their staff is because they’ve hired well.
Delegating takes unnecessary work off of a veterinarian’s plate, and allows for more time to actually serve clients and patients.
5. Set expectations
Setting expectations is another important aspect of time management for veterinarians.
This cuts many ways: it means setting clear expectations for veterinary staff in their roles so that they can have a clear idea of what they’re expected to accomplish, and you can have a clear idea of what will get done.
And, it means setting expectations for clients as they schedule appointments. Before they come in, they should ideally know what to expect: how long they’ll wait (hopefully not long), what their appointment will entail, and how long it’ll last. If you, as a veterinarian, establish a precedent of long appointments with a client, you will always have long appointments. They’ll come to expect that from you.
So, make your expectations for your work clear upfront. Perhaps have your receptionists incorporate expectations into their scheduling conversations – certainly incorporate expectations into your printed materials and online presence.
Clear expectations will help you stick to your schedule by removing time-consuming ambiguity.
6. Work Smarter, Not Harder
A final time management tip: work smarter, not harder.
Yes, this is a bit of cliché, but it’s a valuable mental framework to work under. Busyness doesn’t always mean that you’re getting the most done, and hard work isn’t always good work.
So, don’t robotically perform a list of tasks; actively consider each task and look for ways to make your work more efficient.
This may mean streamlining your paperwork process. It may mean offering a certain treatment plan for a patient. It will almost definitely mean finding ways to intelligently incorporate technology into your veterinary practice.
One way to work smarter? Use VPR Cloud.
VPR Cloud allows you to store information about every animal you treat, so you’ll easily be able to track current and previous prescriptions. You can save time on administrative elements, instead of spending time manually referencing a drug index. And, VPR Cloud allows you to easily provide your client with an information sheet, featuring the most current accurate information about the medications you may be prescribing.
VPR Cloud can help you to facilitate great communication. And, it’ll save you valuable time in the process.
Start Working Smarter Today
If you’re a veterinarian, you are, by definition, busy. But that’s no excuse to let time run by you. You can improve your time management skills and recapture the day. And, doing that will make you an even better veterinarian.
You’ve got this.
If you’re interested in finding out how VPR Cloud can save you even more time, get in touch with us to request a free trial.