Successful Work Habits: How to Make the Most of Every Day

DATE: Jan 13, 2017
AUTHOR: Trish Jones

Successful work habits begin with you. How do you make the most of every day? Post-morting, or reflecting, upon your day, your year or simply a finite project, can help you pinpoint where things are going well and where there are bottlenecks to your productivity. This process can help improve your efficiency and, with any luck, will make your days feel better and easier.

Make Time to Evaluate

At the end of the day, review the success of your work habits, and the productivity and consistency of your schedule. Take the time to ask yourself three key questions:

  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do differently?

These questions can be used to evaluate many aspects of success including each appointment; each day, month or year; your career; your relationships with patients or peers, and more.

You can begin by post-morting your day mentally on your commute home, but once you get home, record your thoughts in a journal. That way, at the end of the year, you can take stock of how you improved appointment by appointment, day-by-day and month-by-month. It can be a real boost when you see how far you have come. Keeping detailed notes will also let you see what you still have to improve on - in patient care and in your career as a whole.

Every Day Is a Learning Experience

Post-morting will help you think about your dental hygiene skills, but it's also good to evaluate administrative pieces that can impact your day so that you can make improvements for future days. Even if your day was great and the schedule was full, you should use your post-morting time to think about what made it great.

Here are two examples of things to think about as you reflect:

  • Scheduling: Make sure you take a look at your day's schedule to see if everything ran on time. If you fell behind, find out the reason and identify solutions that would help prevent this from happening in the future. RDH Magazine identifies over-scheduling and waiting a long time for the dentist as common culprits for running behind schedule. The key is to identify the issues affecting you and think of what you could do differently next time.
  • No-shows: Patients who don't show up for their appointments can have a real impact on your daily success, but it's not always clear how they fit into the big picture until you start to really examine why. Say you have an average of two no-shows a day for a four-day work week and each appointment is valued at $150 per appointment. That's 8 x $150 = $1,200 per week in lost production. In a month, that can equal $4,800 in lost business. You may not have realized that had you not reflected on your month, but now you can work with your team to avoid letting your patients fall through the cracks.

Think Positively

Once you have identified what items need improvement, think positively about how you can make that happen. This may seem daunting if you aim to tackle them all at once, so break down your goals into manageable milestones.

For example, you can start with the issue of no-shows. You may need to develop a new routine to make sure your patients show up for their dental hygiene appointments. A good place to start would be evaluating your method of communication. Instead of phoning a patient and saying "I'm letting you know you missed your appointment," say, "I am concerned about you and want you to know I care about your health. What can I do to help you keep on schedule?" People like to be cared for. Another situation may be that you didn't have enough time during a patient's appointment. One solution for this may be to customize that person's chair time for future appointments.

The only way to become better at something is to form great habits and continually evaluate your progress. Don't be too hard on yourself, though. Improvement takes time. Reviewing and goal setting can be applied to your life on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis and can be applicable to your work day, patients, relationships, career and many other aspects of your life. You have the control to make things better. You can create solutions and carry them out. If it doesn't work, come up with another solution until you find one that works for you.


  • Take notes at the end of every day for future reference.
  • Ask yourself three questions: What went right? What went wrong? What could be done differently?
  • Use your reflection time to come up with a plan to improve patient care and advance your career.

Why It's Important

Post-morting each appointment, your day or your month is important to improving your patient care and advancing in your career. Be honest with yourself and break your goals into manageable pieces to tackle any obstacles and pick up successful work habits.