The most common source of stress I see is the “never enough time” syndrome. Never enough time for the work you need to do. Never enough time for the things you really want to do, or the things you should do. A sudden change in family plans—your son’s team makes the state finals, for instance—turns into a scheduling crisis.

Professional time away from the practice for continuing education is continually postponed or cut back, and there is an ever-present tension between personal time and practice time. As the practice gets more successful the time-crunch intensifies, and stresses increase.

The reason for this stress is simple. It happens when people see their time divided into two categories: work time and personal time—and each is neatly sequestered in its own compartment. If you’re in the office Monday to Thursday, nine to five, everything else is personal time. But this zero-sum game invites conflict. If you need time for a personal matter on a weekday, it comes out of office time. If it’s a practice issue that you have to deal with “after hours,” you’re feeling the imposition on your personal time.

This is where we need to get real. We delude ourselves if we think we can run our practices effectively without reserving dedicated time to its development (imagine if banks or other businesses confined all their energies to only the hours they were open to customers). And we delude ourselves if we think we can have the ideal life we dream about without planning the things we need to do in our out of office hours.

The fact is you have two kinds of practice time: revenue time and non-revenue time. And you have two kinds of personal time: the high-priority “have-to do’s” and the value-adding “want-to-do’s” that make life more enjoyable. A realistic calendar plan takes all these needs into account and makes sure you get the most from each block of time.

A lot of people resist the idea of comprehensive personal and professional calendar planning because they don’t want to feel “boxed in.” But the truth is just the opposite. It’s the “scheduling paradox” I often talk about—the more you schedule, the freer you become because you don’t have to worry about “when will I find time for …” It’s all in the plan.

Budget the right hours for working on the practice and for doing the things that are important to you. If you don’t, you’ll often find yourself working through a list that never seems to get to these things, and that leads to stress about time. On the other hand, if you put it all in the calendar, you still may feel that there is not enough time in your life, but all the important things will be done or accounted for. You’ll be surprised how much stress that relieves.



Commenter's Profile Image Tony Molina
April 8th, 2013
Since my family is my priority, I don't stress about these type of decisions. I never forget Jack Welsh's quote "Nobody on their death ever wishes they worked more hours." One just has to prioritize according to ones values. Then it all falls into place.