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  Posted by: Dental Design      12th March 2024

Effective time management is essential for dental professionals to thrive

Whether it’s a treatment over running or a receptionist off sick, principals face numerous challenges on a daily basis. One of the most common battles is managing time effectively. With a busy schedule and multiple responsibilities, poor time management can lead to stress, decreased productivity and potential compromise on patient care. Therefore, it is essential for dental professionals to adopt effective time management strategies to optimise their practice and maintain a healthy work-life balance.[i]

The first step towards effective time management is to prioritise tasks.[ii] When running your practice, divide your to-do list into urgent, important, and non-urgent tasks. Focus on completing the urgent and important tasks first, ensuring that crucial patient needs are met promptly. The Eisenhower matrix can help you divide your tasks into four categories: the tasks you’ll do first, the tasks you’ll schedule for later, the tasks you’ll delegate, and the tasks you’ll delete.[iii]

Scheduling patients efficiently is an obvious, yet crucial step, for effective time management. Implementing time blocks can help you allocate specific time slots for different procedures, ensuring optimal utilisation of your schedule. Train the team in streamlining your scheduling system by grouping similar procedures together, which can help to reduce the set-up time between patients.[iv]

Identify bottlenecks

Evaluate your practice workflow to identify areas that can be optimised. Make time to analyse each step involved in patient visits, from check-in to treatment completion, to identify potential bottlenecks. Consider implementing protocols that reduce wait times, such as pre-appointment paperwork or digital forms. Efficient workflow systems, such as electronically accessible patient records and centralised supply storage, can save valuable time and reduce disruptions during procedures. Practice management software can prove a useful tool on this front.[v]

Delegating tasks to qualified team members is a key time management skill.[vi] If you’re not doing so already, empower your dental hygienists/therapists, dental nurses and administrative staff to handle specific responsibilities. Properly train and support them, allowing them to take on tasks that do not require your direct involvement. Refusing to delegate can have negative consequences. Not only will you overload your schedule, but your team will miss out on valuable learning and growth opportunities.v

Avoiding interruptions is crucial for maintaining focus and efficiency. Indeed, a University of California study found that after each interruption it takes over 23 minutes to refocus.[vii] While it may be challenging to completely eliminate interruptions, there are strategies to minimise them. Establish designated time slots for returning phone calls, responding to emails, and discussing non-emergency patient issues. Encourage your team to filter questions and concerns to designated times, allowing you uninterrupted concentration during patient appointments. Effective communication and clear boundaries can significantly minimise

Take a break

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking regular breaks and maintaining self-care is crucial for effective time management.[viii] Fatigue and burnout can drastically affect your productivity and overall well-being. If possible, schedule short breaks between patient appointments to decompress and recharge. Often, struggles with effective use of time can begin because your body is not in a place where it is able to give its full concentration and resources to the task in hand.viii Prioritise self-care activities like exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep to ensure you are operating at your best both personally and professionally.

Similarly, investing time in continuous professional development is fundamental to staying updated with the latest advancements in dentistry which can – in the long term – help streamline procedures. Participating in relevant conferences, seminars, and workshops will enhance your skills, knowledge, and efficiency, thereby improving patient outcomes, and save valuable time in the long run.[ix]

To help busy dental professionals – who can spend around 14 hours a week generating clinical documentation – Kiroku, the AI digital note taking platform, has introduced Kiroku Docs that converts clinical notes into documents at the click of a button. Kiroku Docs can generate many different types of documents, including consent forms, treatment planning letters and referral letters, from the clinical notes already taken. Each fully customisable document template pulls the relevant information from the notes guaranteeing no duplication of effort. Users have described the system as ‘a game changer’ and a real help in achieving a better work-life balance.

Effective time management is essential for dental professionals to thrive in their practice, deliver exceptional patient care, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. By prioritising tasks, streamlining scheduling, optimising workflow, and delegating responsibilities, dentists can enhance efficiency and productivity. Minimising interruptions, investing in professional development, and prioritising self-care are also vital components of effective time management. Implementing these strategies will not only benefit dentists individually but also positively impact the overall practice. Time well spent indeed!

To find out more about Kiroku, or to start your free trial, please visit

[i] Nazir MA, Izhar F, Tariq K, Anjum KM, Sohail ZB, Almas K. A cross-sectional study of dentists about the need for a practice management course in undergraduate dental program. Eur J Dent. 2018 Oct-Dec;12(4):508-515. doi: 10.4103/ejd.ejd_184_18. PMID: 30369795; PMCID: PMC6178673. [Accessed December 2023]

[ii] Leadership Success


[iv] Pocket Dentistry

[v] Linkedin

[vi] Harvard Business School Online


[viii] University of Warwick

[ix] WeAreDevelopers

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