How do you balance your time?

Dr Toni Surace, CEO and Managing Director of Momentum Management

We all wear many ‘hats’ in this thing we call life.

You may be a dentist, entrepreneur, business person, son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother, school committee member, kids’ taxi driver, house keeper, gardener, golfer etc etc.

I am constantly hearing that you don’t have enough time, that days are too short and that you are stressed out and exhausted.

How do we get ourselves into this position and how do we find a way out?

I’ve found each of these 6 tips or exercises really helped me out of tangle:

1. What do you want to be remembered for?

One of the most powerful personal growth exercises I have done was an exercise in writing my own eulogy. Yes, it sounds morbid and strange, but think about it. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you and how you lived your life after you have gone? I bet you don’t want them to say you rarely had time for friends and family, were constantly stressed out and died of exhaustion! Organise some uninterrupted time for yourself (and a good glass of red!), sit comfortably and contemplate what you really would like to have people say about you.

Write it down. Write your own eulogy. Once you’re done, look at how it differs to the life you are living today. What changes do you need to make in order to achieve this for yourself? Make a list of how you are going to achieve these changes. Knowing what you want, having a pathway mapped out will help you determine the best way to spend your time.

2. The Big Rocks!

This one is courtesy of Steven Covey, the author of ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.

We all know what our roles are in life. Some roles are more demanding or more important to us than others. Imagine that our week is like a glass bucket. Then imagine that all the things we need to do in that week as rocks. You have lots of them don’t you! The important things are big rocks, less important are smaller rocks and least important are sand. What happens if we place the sand in the bucket first, then add the smaller rocks and then the larger ones? The bucket will be too full and will not fit it all in. But if we put the big, most important rocks in first then the next size down and then the smaller sizes, shaking each time, the smaller rocks will fit around the bigger rocks. Lastly we place the sand in the bucket and with more shaking the sand fills in all the nooks and crannies and everything fits in.

Isn’t this also true of our lives? If we schedule the things that are important to us and commit to doing them, we will feel more fulfilled and will get more done. We will fit more in! Don’t take my word for it, try it out yourself. This very concept is what has helped me fit all my priorities into my life. When people ask me how I do everything I do…this is my answer! 

3. Take time out for you

I know you feel like that mother bird. Her chicks scream to her for food every time she comes home to her nest and you feel like you need to provide and make everyone happy. It is important though, that we understand that our human bodies have needs and we need to listen to what our bodies want! We need the correct food to fuel our day and we need adequate sleep to function at our best. Take time out to give your body what it needs. Unless you do this, life will always be a challenge.

We also need time out for our brains. Learning to quieten down the thinking voice in our heads is another must if you want to achieve in today’s world. We are bombarded with so much information every second of the day. Our poor brains are constantly switched on and even though we may not be doing much at the time we easily get tired from the constant overstimulation. Meditation, yoga, gardening, exercise and many other activities are necessary in our lives in order to help us achieve this stillness. Make sure you look after you and know what your body needs. 

4. Learn to say ‘No’

This one is big for me! I am a people pleaser from waaaay back and it has always been difficult for me to turn down someone who needs help. It wasn’t until I realised that I needed to help myself first that I recognised that my giving behaviour was not all that it was cracked up to be. Just like being on a plane, you need to give yourself the oxygen mask first in an emergency before you help others. Doing it the other way around is insane! I know you do this. So many of us are guilty. This is what creates exhaustion and makes us feel overwhelmed. We simply need to learn to say no and move on from it. Just give it a try and see how it feels. That’s right, people wont like you less or think you are horrible. They will actually respect you more and admire your courage to set your boundaries. Just think of what a great role model you will be for others as well.

5. Delegate

Yes, I’m a dentist and a control freak and no one can do any task as well as I can! Or that is what I always thought J. My obsession with perfection has been with me all my life. I remember writing 5000 word essays for English and making a spelling mistake around word 4555 and having to start again as I couldn’t hand in my essay in such a mess (yes I can see you smirking…you were the same!). My relationship with perfection and being in control had to be reassessed a number of years ago when I ended up hospitalised for anxiety and depression. You may not be in as bad a state as I was but it can easily creep up on you and cause chaos. I learned that others could be trusted to get the task done well. It all revolved around my ability to let go and delegate. I learned the skills, fell off the wagon a number of times when things weren’t done exactly how I wanted but then I realised that I needed to delegate better, not stop delegating! Now I’m the delegation queen and I’m not looking back!

6. Don’t Procrastinate

I have seen you nodding your head and agreeing to me while you have been reading this article. So why don’t you start with the first point and create change in your life? What’s that?? You are too busy, you will do it one day, you just can’t fit it in?? I know, I know. I said all the same things to myself when I was in your position. I was great at procrastinating, making excuses and ignoring what I know needed to be done. The truth was, I was scared to change. This was the life I had made for myself and I knew how to handle it. Would I be less important in my own eyes or the eyes of others if I were not so busy? Maybe- but did it matter? It is thoughts like these that are stopping you from achieving. Your brain is hard wired to your daily routines and patterns and that is why you need someone to help you create new neural pathways in your brain and new patterns of action that are good for you.

How did I learn all this? I grew personally and professionally when I took my practice through the Momentum Management Program. I loved the program and what it did for my life and the lives of my team members so much that I bought the company!

Momentum is not just another Practice Management Company. We focus on personal growth and development to encourage positive change in your practice and in your life. We are proud of our unique services that get you and your practice growing. Change in your practice can not happen with out internal change in you. Don’t you owe it to yourself to see how simple it can be to be the best version of yourself as a dentist and an individual?

Please visit our website for more information.