6 Basic Rules of Tidying Your Dental Office

Tidying your dental office by applying Marie Kondo's methodology. Here's how to declutter and eliminate unecessary stress in your day.

Lately we've gotten pretty deep into Marie Kondo's Netflix show. It's a wonderful series that, on its surface, is about tidying up people's lives.

While the cleaning takes place in a literal term, the tidying is more of a mental cleansing. Regaining balance in a world that started spinning off its axis.

Kondo's show got us thinking about how her methodology can be applied to dental practices.

Again, we're not just talking about dusting your waiting room television. We're talking about reconnecting with the joy that you first entered this career with.

Hitting the reset button, and taking the appropriate steps to live a less hectic work life.

Here's the Marie Kondo method for tidying your dental office, and eliminating unnecessary stress in your day.

Commit Yourself to Tidying Your Dental Office

The first step of any journey is to fully commit. Creating change isn't always a walk in the park, but it's also not impossible.

Visualize what you want to do differently in your office and make it your mission to enact this change.

This is your daily life, after all. It should be set up to help you succeed.

What is it you want to do? Overhaul systems? Cross-train team members? Tighten up phone skills? Communicate more effectively?

Whatever it is that will make your day more zen, determine an endgame, garner buy-in from the team, and fully commit to your journey.

Imagine Your Ideal Practice

You've just woken up. You're getting ready and preparing to go to work. What does the day ahead of you look like?

Where are your hurdles?

What are the enjoyable parts of the day?

How can you eliminate the former and replicate the latter?

It can be difficult when in the eye of the hurricane, but take a moment and focus on what your ideal workday looks like. There's no reason this dream cannot become a reality.

When you sought out on this professional journey, what were your expectations? Take yourself back to a time when you were perhaps less jaded and more enthusiastic.

Seek to embrace the challenges you can control. Work to eliminate or remove yourself from the headaches that are beyond your reach.

You've already committed to tidying up your work life. Now start bending it toward your ideal day.

Finish before Restarting

To you, tidying your dental office might mean only cleaning up one area — tightening up your handoff.

Or maybe it means a complete overhaul of systems, ordering, marketing, and daily operations.

Whatever the case, tackle it step by step until fully complete. In other words, no half measures.

Don't prop up a change partway and then move on to the next. Finish up and follow through.

If cross-training is on your list, train every person on your team before moving on to your next task. Don't train a couple of people, ask them to pay it forward, and move on to cleaning out the supply closet.

Consider the old adage: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

There's an inherent joy that comes with taking a task to completion. Embrace it, and know that, while in the process, you're creating your own daily joy.

Tidy by Category, Not by Area

In other words, don't start in the waiting room and then move on to the front desk and then into the operatory and then the kitchen and then the lab ...Start with a category, a concept, and proceed from there.

Want to text more with patients? Start with texting appointment reminders. Then start texting to fill gaps in the schedule. Fold text messaging into your recall and reactivation campaigns. Text patients for reviews.

Eventually, you have a fully fleshed out communication plan.

The same goes for any cleaning or actual decluttering. Work around an idea — better informing patients of new technology in your practice — instead of a physical presence — decking out the waiting room with pamphlets, then new signage in the operatory, and then a brochure in each swag bag at checkout.

dental coloring book

Follow the Right Order

In Marie Kondo's world of organization, the order is as follows:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous items cluttering your area.
  5. Sentimental items

For the purpose of tidying your practice and work life, the order is a little different:

  1. Clothes — Old scrubs, masks collecting dust, gloves you no longer use because you've changed models, bibs for patients, etc.
  2. Equipment and instruments — Making sure teammates are trained on all the equipment, marketing this equipment to patients, updating any software that needs it, cleaning equipment that needs to be touched up, upgrading instruments to newer models
  3. Papers and files — Organizing patient files, instituting paperless forms, getting rid of faxes and old sticky notes, coaching team on how to be less reliant on paper (coaching patients on payment portals, paperless intake, etc.)
  4. Miscellaneous brochures and magazines — Evaluating signage across office, tossing old brochures, updating branding and logos, getting rid of old or tattered waiting room magazines, throwing out old collateral from sales reps
  5. Legacy systems — What inefficient systems have been around since you started? Is there any part of your daily routine you find ineffective? Are there gaps in the day that you can fill in? Look forward, and don't be beholden (sentimental) to the old way of doing things. Get 1% better each day.

Ask Yourself if Your Day Is a Joy

How is your day? Is it a joy? Are you excited to go to work? What do you dislike about your day-to-day? Have all the steps above alleviated much of your daily stress?

At the end of the day, it's your mental and physical wellbeing that matters.

As FAADOM member Deana Zost emphatically points out, it's essential for all managers to have work-life balance and find their own "me time."

If your current routine does not bring you joy, hold it in your hands, thank it for its service, and set it aside. You need something more.

Remember, tidying up your practice goes beyond wiping down surfaces and organizing files.

It's about cleaning up all the areas that are burdensome.

It's about adding structure to your routine and streamlining processes that have gone astray.

Most of all, it's about bring joy back to your daily life.

Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.