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HomemioptometryManaging the Busyness of Life

Managing the Busyness of Life

Find yourself being pulled in multiple directions 24/7? Andrew McKinnon has some suggestions. They may feel clunky at first, but they could very well change your life and your work habits for the better.

By the time you read this, the first quarter of the year will be gone, and already I will have booked our Christmas holidays for this year – terrifying isn’t it!

I thought that time only moved faster as you get older, but no matter who I talk to, people feel like the pace of life is getting away from them. And it is especially problematic in optometry, where because of the retail nature of the core business, staff (including optometrists) usually work a seven-day roster.

Weekend work makes it much more difficult to maintain family and friend connections. How many times have your friends been hosting a lunch or party and you’ve had to decline because of work?

Now this isn’t unique to our profession – anyone in retail, aged care, health care, and a myriad of other occupations and professions faces the same dilemma.

What it does mean is that it is even more critical for optometrists to plan their time off – both regular weekly breaks and holidays – to maximise their downtime and create opportunities to stay in touch with those whom we hold most dear.

And it does take planning – a concept which some find a bit limiting and inhibiting. However, I’d say to you that it is an option that does indeed work.

Personal example – my wife and I both work a lot of evenings and weekends. I have quite a few meetings and she’s a dog trainer, so evenings are when most people are available. In addition, she’s a dog groomer, so we both work Saturdays. That means we probably only see each other maybe two nights a week and on Sundays.

So, we now make space in our diaries to see each other – yes, we actually cross off time in the diaries for dinner, a weekend away, or just to have a glass of wine and catch up.

We’ve found it’s the only thing that works for us. If we don’t, there’s always another meeting or appointment to fill the space. It felt clunky to start with, but we’re now used to it, and it works well. Give it a try – it will feel artificial to start with, but it might just work for you.

Oh, one last thing – practise saying “no”. The world will probably not end if you make yourself unavailable for something you really don’t want to do. Your family is much more important.

LOOKING AHEAD

So, what is the rest of 2024 likely to bring in the optometry world?

I think that our role in myopia control will really come to the fore this year. There is so much more that we collectively can and should be doing in this space and I feel like it will very largely come together in 2024.

All of us need to stay on top of patient relations, especially in the current financial climate.

In the office, we can track the financial health of the economy based on the number of complaints we help members to manage each week / month / year. And at present, we’re sitting right at the top of the curve.

Far and away the biggest problem comes back to simple communication – taking the time to ensure, as far as possible, that patients understand what their condition is, what your recommended treatment involves, and what costs that will entail.

Sounds easy, but it can be a very fraught process, largely because you can’t control what people choose to hear.

My only piece of not-so-sage advice is to check back with people multiple times throughout the consultation and subsequent discussions. Don’t just give them a diatribe and at the end, ask if they’re OK with that. And particularly, don’t do it if it involves bad news or children.

Complaints about children’s issues are the number one problem that we help members deal with. If you’re going to see children, then allocate time to the process – more time than you otherwise would. Just view it as an essential cost of doing business. It will certainly help to save you a lot of grief in the long run!

Andrew McKinnon is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Australia New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory