The American Institute of Stress reports that work-related stress is “far and away the major source of stress for American adults.” In fact, one in three workers indicates that they feel extreme levels of angst while on the job.
The number one cause of workplace stress is workload, affecting roughly 46 percent of individuals nationwide. People issues are the next biggest concern (28 percent), followed by trying to juggle obligations at work with responsibilities at home (20 percent).
Worse yet, this type of workplace distress appears to be increasing over time, putting an employee at greater risk of life-threatening issues such as heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, many of these stressors can be minimized simply by maximizing your time, and these are five proven and effective ways you can do just that.
1. Reduce Your Work Space
Environment plays a huge role in productivity because, the more steps you have to take to get wherever it is you’re going, the longer it will take to get the job done. Research has even found that the workplace setting can affect job satisfaction levels, thereby improving employee outcomes.
For this reason, it’s best to keep rooms small and closer together, minimizing the amount of walking necessary to go from one area of the office to the next. Additionally, if possible, plan the space so that movement occurs in a loop, making it more efficient. And keep the items you use the most, close by so they’re quick and easy to grab.
2. Simplify Your Job Functions
Another way to maximize time and minimize stress is to simplify your job functions and one method to consider is to set SMART goals. These are goals that are simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based and they work because, the clearer you can see where it is you want to take your business, the easier it is to make the necessary decisions to get you there.
It also helps to delegate what you can to other members of your staff. Let your capable employees take some of the pressure off by assigning them tasks that they can do with little to no involvement on your part.
Though you may be tempted to take some or all of the duties back once you feel less constrained by time, don’t. The more consistent you can keep their job responsibilities, the lesser the likelihood that you’ll create confusion as to who is supposed to do what, and when.
3. Maximize Your Schedule
A third way to maximize your time is to also maximize your schedule. For instance, you could cluster your patient appointments together so you have focused uninterrupted hours in the morning or early afternoon. This helps you get into a rhythm because you’re following the same basic steps over and over again.
You should also schedule regular office breaks. According to research published in the journal Organizational Dynamics, this “allows for the process of recovery from work to occur.” These breaks should occur during the work day, as in a mid-morning or lunch break, as well as taking longer absences from work, such as when taking a long weekend or a week or two off.
But the most important way to stay focused at work is to leave work at work so that your mind gets a much-needed rest. Alternatively, leaving home at home can provide the same type of relief if there’s a lot going on there.
4. Minimize Time Spent Printing
You can also maximize your productivity by minimizing the amount of time you spend printing things at the office. Digital recordkeeping helps with this and is one benefit of incorporating an electronic health records (EHR) system.
Contacting patients electronically is a time saver as well. Instead of sending them paper receipts, bills or letters, use email instead. Email is not only easier and faster to deliver, it’s more reliable than using snail mail.
For items that you do have to print, such as promotional pamphlets or exercise instructions, print a bunch at a time and keep a supply on hand. This eliminates the time needed to print each piece when you need it. You and your patients can simply grab from a supply of copies and go.
The more clicks you have to make on your keyboard, the longer it will take to get things done. Therefore, an effective way to maximize your time is using a software system that is efficiently designed, has an intuitive layout and eliminates duplicate data entry.
It also helps to use a software system that automates many tasks. Macros and algorithms are important tools that take multiple steps and combine them into one. For example, an EHR macro when completing a note will automatically post service charges to billing and create a claim at the same time. This function combined the three time-consuming steps into one.
Another way speed up data entry is to use a software system that is optimized for touch screens. Instead of taking the time to move and aim a mouse arrow over a small clickable area, the user can point and touch a larger button on the monitor. Software built for touch screens can reduce the time spent on computer input by more than half of non-touch screen software.
Finally, using an EHR with integrated practice management functions further minimizes typing by reducing the need for double entry. Instead of navigating between multiple software programs, it’s easier and faster to use one program that keeps all your information in one place. But the most important time-saving benefit of using one software system is the elimination of entering data in multiple times.
Maximize your time in the workplace by addressing these five areas and you may also notice that your stress is minimized. That’s one trade-off that makes perfect sense.