The most common source of stress I see is the ânever enough timeâ 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 plansâyour sonâs team makes the state finals, for instanceâturns 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 timeâand each is neatly sequestered in its own compartment. If youâre 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 itâs a practice issue that you have to deal with âafter hours,â youâre 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 âhave-to doâsâ and the value-adding âwant-to-doâsâ 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 donât want to feel âboxed in.â But the truth is just the opposite. Itâs the âscheduling paradoxâ I often talk aboutâthe more you schedule, the freer you become because you donât have to worry about âwhen will I find time for â¦â Itâs 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 donât, youâll 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. Youâll be surprised how much stress that relieves.