The Incredible Shrinking Workweek
We’re all familiar with the idea that work expands to fill the time you allot for it. Give yourself (or an employee) two hours to accomplish something and it gets done in two hours. Reserve a day’s worth of time and it will take a day. It’s not that there is anything dishonest going on, it’s just that when you have a time budget you can always find ways to use that budget to the fullest.
What we often don’t see as clearly is that the equation works in reverse too: When you shrink the time budget, you find ways to make the work fit into the time allotted. That’s what allows dentists like Rick Miller, who I wrote about in the last post, to pursue their passions outside of the office. They maintain their high clinical standards (in fact, they’re always improving them), while finding ways to do more in less time.
I’ve known many dentists who went from a 5-day week to a 4-day week and saw their revenue go up. They didn’t increase their fees. It’s just that the very act of making the decision to go to a 4-day week made them focus hard on how to streamline efficiencies and get more from each hour. That is what we mean by increasing the value of our time, and a higher value of time means a life of greater choices.
I’m not saying you should be reckless about reducing your time in the practice—obviously the economics have to make sense. But don’t wait for conditions to be perfect either. You’ll be waiting forever. Make a real commitment to shift more hours into the personal side of the ledger and see what happens. You’ll probably be surprised with what you can do in a shorter workweek when you have to.