As the owner-manager of a busy dental practice, I know I can never fully relax on the job. Every day brings a different challenge, another fire I have to fight before it spreads to the rest of the business. I like being busy and I enjoy working under pressure, but I also understand that if I want to give my best in the long run, I need to manage my stress levels and prioritise my wellbeing.
Dentistry is a notoriously high-pressure business. So much rests on the shoulders of the principal practitioner, who often has to be the practice’s main revenue generator as well as its manager and chief strategist. Dental procedures require intense concentration, often sustained over a period of an hour or longer. How are you supposed to focus on this painstaking work while also keeping an eye on the big picture?
Over my ten years in the business, I’ve gradually built up a roster of apps which help me stay on top of my workload and keep a lid on my stress. Each serves a different need, but altogether I think of them as my mental DUSTBUSTER, hoovering up all of the negativity and anxiety that sometimes clogs my mind and leaving it clean, clear and calm.
So, take five minutes out of your busy day and work your way through the list below – I’m sure you’ll find at least one tool that’ll work wonders for your wellbeing.
There are different types of exercise you can do on the app. Gratitude meditations are designed to help you feel thankful for the life you’ve got and proud of the things you’ve achieved. This can help put any problems you might be struggling with right now in a wider perspective.
Other types of meditation will allow you to surface any nagging anxieties or negative thoughts that have been troubling you, so you can deal with them in a calm and positive way. It’s amazing how much smaller our worries seem when we take the time to look them squarely in the eye.
The secret with meditation is to stick at it. With enough repetitions it’ll become a routine, a positive habit that can replace the negative coping mechanisms you might have been using previously, whether that was snapping at people when you got frustrated or drinking a couple of glasses of wine before bed. Meditation might take a little effort at first, but it’s cheaper and less messy – I guarantee it!
There are two good journaling apps you can use – Journey if you’re on Android, or Day One for iOS. Both are digital daily planners which provide useful frameworks and prompts to help you figure out what you want to record.
It might be that you want to try keeping a morning journal, where you sketch out what you want your day to look like and plan what you’ll aim to achieve. Or, you could keep an evening journal, where you reflect on the day that’s just passed and what you accomplished.
Your journal can be more practical, focused on tasks and reminders, or you can use it to keep track of your thoughts and feelings, getting them out of your system and onto the page, so you can view them with a bit of distance. Together with meditation, this can be a powerful combo.
Your journal can also be used to chronicle personal milestones, family events, holidays and other highlights from your personal life, becoming a record you can look back on when you want to feel grateful for what you’ve got.
When you’re trying to keep a hundred small jobs in your mind all at once, it’s easy for anxiety to build up. With this to-do list app, you can construct a daily personal agenda containing all your work responsibilities as well as life admin and other odd jobs. It has a nice, clean layout and integrates with other programs like email and calendar, so you can pull tasks from all areas of your life into one manageable list.
The app comes in a free or a business version, and I’d encourage you to invest in the latter. At £30 a year, it’s great value for what you get. With everything loaded into my to-do list, I can focus on the task at hand without worrying about what’s coming next, and when it’s time to move on to the next thing I simply take a quick peek at my planner and get straight to it – no more frantically thinking about what important job I was meant to be doing next!
Automated transcription apps
Otter is a transcription program that integrates with online meeting apps like Zoom or Google Meet, automatically capturing recordings and turning them into a searchable text document that can be circulated with other attendees.
This means nobody has to do the boring job of taking notes or minutes, and it’s easy to check back over conversations to review important points and catch up on things you might have missed. If someone has a eureka moment, it’s automatically recorded for posterity, so no need to scramble for a pen and paper.
In my experience, the software has around a 90 per cent accuracy rate, and any mistakes it makes are usually small and easy to spot. Otter’s been a real game changer for me, and has saved me a ton of time I’d otherwise have spent searching through messy notes or calling people up to double-check something they said.
I use Calendly to manage my schedule, and it’s been absolutely vital for helping me stay in control of my time. For those who haven’t used it, it enables you to fix meetings with people by sending them a link which allows them to choose an open slot in your calendar. They have the flexibility of picking a time that suits them, but only from the options that you offer.
This makes it impossible for people to use up more of my time than I can afford to give them and eliminates those mind-numbing back-and-forths over when and where to meet – which can often take longer than the conversation itself! I’ve found that Calendly removes so much of the frustration and hassle from managing my schedule that I’m approaching my meetings and calls feeling more focused and energised, making them that much more productive and enjoyable.
If you’ve experienced burnout at work before, you’ll know what it feels like to end up exhausted and overwhelmed by the daily grind.
I used to be on call for my practice twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, sometimes even sleeping over in the office and hiding from the staff when they came in the morning! I kid you not – I was a complete workaholic. These days, though, I have a wife and two young children to support, and making time for family is my number one priority.
Using these apps helps me manage my time and energy more efficiently, so I can give my best to the practice while leaving plenty of room to live and thrive with my family outside of it. Give them a try today – you’ll feel happier, calmer and more energised, and the benefits will be felt throughout your practice!
My goal with this blog is to share practical tips, drawn from my own experience, that practice owners can use to build a better business right now. There’ll be more to come in the weeks ahead, so if you want to keep up to date, sign up to the mailing list!