By Lucy McCarthy, Operations Manager at Hive Business
I’ve been completely taken with the recent cleaning craze and I am happy to admit I’m obsessed with Marie Kondo and Mrs Hinch. We’ve decided to invest in some new, very functional, storage for our office and everyone is getting ready to use the new filing system which will improve efficiency, increase accountability and make our office a nicer environment to work in.
I recently visited a dental practice to introduce them to Agile project management. In a way, using Agile is like Marie Kondo-ing your mind: You take all of the tasks out of your head, organise them and create a logical system to use going forward. The principal is loving their new board as it immediately halved his task list by giving him visibility on the tasks he’d delegated.
Using Agile won’t magically complete all of your tasks but it shows you where you need to improve, who is on top of their tasks and who needs help. To use it, the whole team needs to be organised. I am always interested in how people manage their task lists as everyone uses different methods. Here are some practical ways to keep your work life organised before you implement Agile in your dental practice.
- Email inbox – Keep it tidy and make a simple filing system for your emails. Keep all emails in your inbox as live tasks that need actioning and file anything else for future reference. Every few months have a tidy up, it might be that you can delete some folders or create a subfolder to keep projects separate. It could be that you have a “financial” folder for your emails regarding your practice’s accounts, “staff” folder for reviews or a “courses” folder for any events you’re holding or attending etc. If your inbox is a mess, it is worth spending a day sorting through it to reclaim some order and create a system – you won’t regret it.
- Have a to-do list – I have a weekly planner and a notebook for my daily to-do list but you can do it digitally if you prefer. This means I can plan my week but easily move tasks to a different day using my notebook. It takes me all of 5 minutes in the morning (or evening before) for me to plan my day, as all of my tasks are in front of me and allocated to a specific day. If I don’t complete a task on the day I allocated it to I circle it, when I complete a task I get a tick. I look back at the week and see how many times I bumped a task to another day and ask myself why. Sometimes it’s valid, sometimes it’s an excuse! Whatever it is, I have a word with myself and vow to do better next time.
- Own your tasks – If you have been given a task, make sure you fully understand what you have to do. I work with a diverse team; creatives, consultants, accountants and dentists… they all speak a different language. I used to be afraid to say I didn’t understand a task and fumble my way through it to show I could use my initiative. Sometimes that pays off but sometimes you need to get more information and a clear idea of what you’re doing before you start to really work efficiently. You need to learn the questions to ask at the start and learn from similar tasks. It will become clear the tasks you should delegate that don’t match your skill set, the ones you need more training to complete or the ones you can easily complete.
- Plan, plan and then plan some more – I often hear that planning a week in advance is pretty much impossible because something will always come up and wipe your week out. I sympathise with this and it can be true. However, something has to give and you don’t always have to jump to do something else if it creates utter chaos later if you prioritise well. Take a few minutes to look ahead, make a plan and allocate adequate time to your tasks. The mistake people make is not allowing any slack in the system and fill up their days up with an impossible amount of work. It’s great when you feel ahead of schedule (even if it’s your own made up schedule), you will feel calmer and ready to deal with those essential reactive tasks.
- Pay attention to those “little tasks” – You know the ones that “will only take a few minutes”… but before you know it you’re at that meeting that was scheduled for 11am or it’s past lunchtime and you have another appointment booked in. It’s reiterating what I said above but allocate time to these. Most importantly, do a value check on each one and make sure you’re best suited to complete them or delegate them to someone else. Review your priorities, there may be a better day or time to do it.
If you would like help ensuring your team are all working efficiently and effectively, we can show you how to implement Agile into your dental practice. Get in touch to discuss how Hive can help.