Put First Things First in Your Dental Office

In Habit 3, Covey demonstrates a parallel division of distinguishing leadership from management in that leadership is more of an art, referencing a right-brained activity consisting of asking the ultimate questions relating to life whereas management is implementing this perspective into action.  Effective management is implementing first things first, while leadership involves the decision of what the first things are.  This is where prioritization plays an important role.

It is imperative that in your Dental Practice a clear understanding is distinguished.  There are a few ways to assist in making more profound Leadership and Management decisions.  A couple of pertinent questions within your personal and professional life might include…

  1. What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you consistently did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?

  2. What one thing in your Dental Practice if done on a consistent basis would bring similar results?

While these types of questions really require us to look both inwardly and outwardly, your answers will define the success.  Success will only be achieved by implementing Time Management skills.


Let's recap the first Two Habits. According to Covey, “the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: organize and execute around priorities.”  Our lives are often filled with notes and checklists, calendars and appointment books.  We must Prioritize in order to complete tasks in our daily lives and our Dental Practice.  Prioritization consists of clarifying values and of comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values.  We can internalize how proactively acting upon our lives (Habit 1) with vision and meaning (Habit 2) is essential to the effective application of Habit 3.  Although this habit implies that we focus on setting short, intermediate and long-term goals toward which our time and energy is directed in harmony with our values, it emphasizes the importance of allowing opportunities to develop meaningful results on a regular basis.  The key is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

Returning to the computer metaphor Covey uses in Habit 2, if Habit 1 says “you’re the programmer” and Habit 2 says “Write the program”, then Habit 3 says “Run the program”.

To summarize this even more ….ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. How can I Feel more satisfied with what I accomplish each day?
    Define a clear vision of the results you want and then live each day with a greater sense of meaning and purpose.

  2. How will I really know where I'm going?  
    You must focus on your top priorities, achieve balance, and increase organization and productivity through a weekly and daily planning process. This must be implementing by you and the entire Dental Team!!!!

  3. How can I discover the secrets to success and fulfillment within myself?
    It is imperative that you end self-defeating personal and professional behavior and gain the necessary confidence to change.

Once we have established the understanding of "how we are going to put First things First," the next step is Time Management.  Time management must begin with the commitment to change. Time management is very simple as long as you commit to action. The key to successful time management is planning and then protecting the planned time, which often involves re-conditioning your environment, as well as re-conditioning the expectations of others.  The commitments that you and the Dental Team make will essentially have long term effect on the entire practice.  Remember to keep them positive and rewarding for all!  Time management enables each of us to improve and be more productive.  An example of dictating and organizing our Time Management skills in the Dental Practice were illustrated by Covey in the Time Management Matrix. He discussed placing matters into categories.  They are deciding the matters at hand as Important or Not Important.  You need to know the difference between Urgent and Important.  While one might view them as the same; they are not the same.  Urgent matters are usually visible. Unimportant matters are also visible. We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not important require more initiative, more proactivity. Therefore, often times in the Dental Practice, complete confusion is the result.  Importance always has something to do with results.  If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals. 


Effective people don’t typically spend their time on non-important activities because, urgent or not, they’re not important.  In reality, especially in the Dental Practice, the urgency of non-important matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others.  Time Management must be implemented consistently to maximize this theory.  Effective people spend most of their time on important, but not urgent activities, such as building relationships, exercising and preparation.  Therefore, having the ability to maintain consistent structure within the Dental Practice is achievable.


In conclusion, both management and leadership is necessary in order to obtain the ability to Plan, Prepare, and Prevent.  You must remind yourself daily of the "Rocks" in both aspects of your life. Maintaining a daily "Rock" schedule is pertinent in both your Personal and Professional Life.I have listed some very tactful Time Management Tips to assist in achieving the success within your Dental Practice. 




Watch the video below to learn more.