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a blog by Chris Barrow


Do Not Disturb

We hang the sign on our hotel room door when we want to be left alone.

How often do we hang that sign outside the door to our everyday lives?

We use Google Calendars to keep track of where the client-facing team are on the planet.

Individually we have our calendar preferences (mine is iCal) but all sync to a central Google Calendar so that the back-office team can see our movements.

Phillippa, of course, uses that to plan and execute my extensive travel and my clients are in the know that if they want to speak to me face to face (in the flesh or digitally), she is the person with whom to connect.

Google Calendars sync with my iCal and tells me where to go and with whom I will meet.

Practice management software seldom allows calendars to be created for non-clinical team members and I see this as a weakness in a world in which everyone has a role to play in the patient experience, as well as the business of dentistry.

If you peruse my calendar, you will occasionally see a block of time marked “DND”.

Phillippa and the team know that during a DND session, I will not be answering my phone, observing notifications, reading emails, responding to texts or messages.

DND means that I’m in an isolation chamber working on a specific project that requires my full attention.

It might be a new keynote presentation for a conference/workshop, a lengthy article for a dental publication, planning my own time, money and resources or completing a detailed analysis for a client of a strategic, financial, marketing or operational nature.

In DND time I need to think straight and untangle either my spaghetti or somebody else’s.

DND means what it says – except for a genuine emergency – no – I don’t have a minute for you.

Habitually I ask my clients and others I meet how often they take DND time.

You can guess the answer.

“Always at somebody else’s beck and call” seems to be a default setting and, of course, in our connected age that really does mean always.

When I’m DND’ing, I don’t mind listening to my favourite music or sitting in a busy coffee shop watching the people come and go, enjoying the hubbub of life around me.

I just don’t want to connect.

In a busy dental practice, I’ll bet that if you actually did hang a hotel DND sign on your door, that someone would tap a few times, open and say “I know you said not to be disturbed but……….”

Allowing that to happen is not a sign of good leadership or management.

It fosters weakness and dependency in your team and too high a level of expectation in your patients/clients.

Your DND time is priceless – it is where you create your art.

Hang that sign up more often to work ON your life instead of IN your life.

There you will find peace.

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