Reclaim Your Best Time so That You Can Grow Your Practice and Work Less
Years ago when our coaching company started working with Dr. Padda, a physician who practices in St. Louis, Missouri, he thought the best use of his time was performing surgery. He specialized in pain-intervention spinal procedures in which he was a world-class expert.
But the more Dr. Padda took the concepts of time mastery and business growth to heart, the clearer it became that, though lucrative, doing surgery wasn’t the best use of his time. So what was? Spending time:
- making strategic decisions
- hiring and empowering key team members
- building core systems
- engaging in crucial negotiations
- creating valuable strategic relationships
Here’s how Dr. Padda described himself before he took this new approach to time management: “I was a surgeon with a thriving pain-management practice. At the time I started using David’s time-mastery strategies, I was already stretched to the maximum. I was running a dozen different businesses from a medical billing company to several commercial real estate projects and even a few restaurants.”
Overextended and searching for a better way, Dr. Padda made crucial strategic changes to the way he structured and leveraged his time. Within two months, he noticed a difference in how much he could accomplish. His sense of stress began to diminish.
Radically Upgrade His Use of Time
Today, Dr. Padda owns seven medical clinics and employs hundreds of people. Here’s how he explains the changes that have taken place after a couple years of applying our time-mastery strategies: “These ideas helped me radically upgrade my use of time, and within two years, I increased my personal income by an additional one million dollars a year. I still use these strategies, and, to this day, find them just as useful and profitable as ever.”
Though Dr. Padda is an outlier in terms of how much he’s accomplished, his example shows how powerful the time-mastery program can be.
You want to have real blocks of time—as few as two hours (or more) every week initially—to take off your physician’s hat and put on your practice owner’s hat. Why? You’ll work on higher-value activities to grow your practice.The time-mastery strategies I teach fundamentally altered the way Dr. Padda uses his working time, and it will for you, too. How do these strategies work? By implementing a structure that consistently provides weekly and daily blocks in which to do your highest-value work. Let’s look at the Time Value Matrix. Build Your Personal “Time Value Matrix” To dramatically upgrade the way you use your time, first identify what you do that creates the most value for your practice. If you’ve read management literature, you may have come across the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule. The Pareto Principle says that 20 percent of your actions generate 80 percent of your results (high value), and the other 80 percent of your actions generate the other 20 percent of your results (low value). Let’s use this distinction to define your low-value work and separate it from your high-value work. From there comes a model for creating massive value independent of the number of hours you put in.
If you take the 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply the same distinction a second time, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means 4 percent of your efforts generate 64 percent of your results. And if you apply this distinction yet again, it means that around 1 percent (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates about 50 percent of your results. That’s right; just a fraction of your highest-leveraged work produces a full half of all the value you create.
We applied this idea to create a Time Value Matrix™ (see chart). With it, you can accurately quantify the value of these four distinct types of time:
- D Time is the 80 percent of your work that is unleveraged and generates just 20 percent of your total return. We call this the “80 Percent Mass.”
- C Time is the leveraged 20 percent that produces 80 percent of your results. We call this “Leveraged Time.”
- B Time is the highly focused 4 percent that generates 64 percent of your results. We call this time the “4 Percent Sweet Spot.”
- A Time is the top of the pyramid—the “magic 1 percent.” Fifty percent of your results come from A Time.
Note that one person’s D-level activity may be another person’s A- or B-level activity; it’s all relative. For example, one doctor’s D-level activities is ordering supplies for his practice—but some people working for him have this as one of their C-level activities. Your A-, B-, C-, and D-level activities are comparable only to you, not to other people.
Let’s apply this distinction to your own work using the following examples. As you go, take a few minutes to record your A-, B-, C-, and D-level activities.
D Time: This is the 80 percent that produces only 20 percent of your total return. Some “D Time” activities might be:
- Fixing the Wi-Fi in the office
- Writing low-level email messages
- Scanning documents into the electronic filing system
- Scheduling patientsNow list five of your “D Time” activities:
C Time: This is the leveraged 20 percent that produces 80 percent of your results. Some “C Time” activities might be:
- Treating patients
- Delegating to an assistant
- Making low-level financial decisions
- Dictating treatment notesList five of your “C Time” activities:
B Time: This is the highly focused “4 Percent Sweet Spot” that generates 64 percent of your results. Some “B Time” activities might be:
- Speaking at a medical conference
- Coaching the management team to be better leaders
- Reviewing quarterly progress for the practice
- Holding staff accountable for their deliverables
- Instituting a systemic solution to a recurring problem
- Spending time briefly conferring with legal and tax advisors to help assure that significant threats are best handled.List five of your “B Time” activities
A Time: This is the “magic 1 percent” that generates more than 50 percent of your total results. Some “A Time” activities might be:
- Designing the practice’s pricing model
- Making executive-level hiring and firing decisions
- Getting expert input on core issues and opportunities from legal, tax, and business advisors
- Meeting with key joint venture partners to secure high-value, win-win strategic partnershipsList five of your “A Time” activities:
When you make distinctions based on A, B, C, and D Time as a matter of habit, you’ll start to upgrade the type of work you do—by doing more A and B, and less D. And you’ll find the results to be amazing.
Understand that what you currently list as an A- or B-level activity will change over time. For example, if right now a marketing activity that brings in a dozen new patients is an A-level activity for you, make sure that, in 6 to 12 months, you’ve increased the value you create for your practice. That pushes it down to a B-level activity. Or, if you’re currently performing a specific high-revenue procedure as a B-level activity, work on developing your provider team and your practice. Then, in 12 to 18 months, it becomes a C-level activity for you.
Free Up More A and B Time
Your core time strategy is to free up more A and B Time by reducing your D-Time tasks. Make sure the time you do free up goes into A- and B-level uses and isn’t wasted on D-level junk.
Generally, A- and B-level activities mean stepping out of the day-to-day practice of medicine and doing the high-level work that improves the practice’s capacity to grow. It might seem surprising to you, as it was for Dr. Padda, that your time spent treating patients—and even performing $1,000-an-hour surgery—is C-level work. This is important to understand: C Time can provide you with a great income, but you’ll always have to work exceptionally hard to earn it. What’s more, it will likely always be dependent on your personal participation. This is the trap that catches most doctors.
In summary, instead of growing your practice by working more hours and seeing more patients, you aim to upgrade your use of time. That will allow you to generate huge business breakthroughs while working fewer hours.
So, here’s the big question: How can you have more A and B Time? The answer is to fundamentally alter the way you structure your day and your week.
I hope you found these ideas on upgrading your personal use of time helpful so that you can grow your practice and work less.
Good luck to you in growing your practice.Interested in learning more ideas on how to grow your practice? Download a free copy of our latest book, Grow Your Medical Practice and Get Your Life Back.