Take a Break
Especially in America, the idea of working to exhaustion is often expected and even encouraged. I have listened to practice development professionals and entrepreneurial gurus who have actually said things like "have food ordered by your staff and delivered to your office so that you can work straight through lunch" and "schedule your day so that there are overlaps between patients rather than breaks between them". I get that we are a go-go-go society and hard work is an admirable quality. Especially during the startup years, longer hours are often necessary. However, where do we draw the line? Even when someone loves what they are doing, how long can they sustain those long work days with no mental break?
Studies will show that, regardless of the industry, workers' productivity decreases later on in the day. It is proven that our most productive time and greatest amount of focus occurs towards the beginning of the day, not the end. The number of mistakes and physical injuries increase the longer people work without breaks. So why do some people work extra long hours without taking breaks during the day? I think it goes back to the message that is repeated again and again, however subliminally, that if we just put our nose to the grind, we can overcome that mental and physical exhaustion and power on.
I have found that even taking a two minute stretch break between patients or going for a quick walk around the block on a sunny day is an instant recharge for me. When I can step away from dentistry for a few minutes during the day, I actually come back feeling more inspired, focused on dentistry, and capable of providing exceptional patient care. Funny how that works! My stress levels are instantly decreased, I am kinder to my staff and patients, and I am ready to take on that next big case. Whatever your "break" is, be it prayer, reading a non-work related book, physical activity, listening to a podcast, etc., I encourage you to schedule (and take!) them as often as needed during the work day. The time "lost" during those breaks is exponentially made up for by the increase in your productivity!