Is What You're Doing Worth Your Time?

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By April Jasper, OD, FAAO, and Katie Gilbert-Spear, OD, MPH, WO Professional Co-editors and Co-founders, Distinctive Strategies and Leadership

We’ve heard from an increasing number of women ODs who say that they’re on the verge of burning out. A recent poll showed us that 42 percent of ODs (male and female) said that if they had the chance to start their careers over, they would not choose optometry.

Many of these ODs say they love aspects of their job; patient care, generally, ranks high. It’s the administrative burdens that often result in optometrists working late, missing kids’ games, performances, dinner, weekend family time, the ability to go to the gym or do what you do to recharge.

During our webinar, we talked about a strategy that we’ve used in our personal lives, but it applies absolutely to our professional lives as well. Here’s Dr. Gilbert-Spear’s story.

“I’m a micromanager, so I was trying to do all the cleaning and yardwork at home, and it was stressful. My husband told me to calculate my hourly wage as an OD. What’s my professional time worth? Then he asked me to calculate how many hours I spend doing these household tasks. The exercise showed clearly that it was worth our money to shift these hours of household work to someone else. I could spend a little more time at work (making significantly more money) and come home and spend relaxed time with the family (with significantly less stress).”

See if that exercise works for you. Maybe it’s as little as hiring someone to clean the house every two weeks or someone to mow the lawn. Or maybe it’s bringing in a personal chef so that meals for the week need only be heated and served.

Those same calculations can be used in the office.

In fact, it’s why Dr. Gilbert-Spear and her husband, Carl Spear, OD, MBA, outsourced all the human resources aspects of the five practices they owned. The move was triggered by an audit of payroll practices. After hours of reviews, preparing reports and meeting with the auditor, only a small incongruity was uncovered; the penalty was small, but the headache and inconvenience were huge. Since then, administrative burdens have become more complex. The cost of handing over all of the HR services, payroll and withholding, background checks, workers’ compensation, OSHA training, onsite ergonomic reviews, 401(k) enrollment and withholding, health care plan enrollment and withholding, HIPAA training, drug testing and more, was about $1,000 per employee per year. Some HR companies offer à la carte services, too.

Do the math in your practice. What causes you the most stress? How much of your valuable time do you spend doing it? If you can hire someone else to cover those tasks for you, you can see more patients and enjoy life a little more.

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