Practical tips by Dr Bethany Rushworth: Work-life balance
Dr Bethany Rushworth, an award-winning dentist with numerous scientific publications, has been focusing on the personal development of dentists for years. Her several years of coaching experience allow her to look at everyday dentistry from an exciting perspective. In this blog series, she talks about her experience and gives you an exclusive insight into her work to help you with your professional development.
In the last blog entry of our series, Dr Bethany Rushworth highlights the importance of having a healthy work-life balance, and reveals what she does to keep her mind focused.
During the pandemic, I think most people have had the opportunity to reflect on their work-life balance and how they have been spending their time. That being said, it is still easy for the pressure to start building back up and I can’t imagine it being long after going back to work before we all start to slip back into our old ways.
In the past, I have found it quite difficult to switch off from work. Although I love dentistry and I am happy in my job, I also realized I wasn’t making time to do the things I enjoy outside of my career. I recently made some deliberate changes to ensure that I was making the most of my time and allowing my mind to be on things other than teeth!
The first thing I started doing was planning my work and leisure in a more detailed way. I prioritize my tasks, then schedule when each thing needs to be done. This way, I make sure everything is completed in time for any deadlines, but I am also kind to myself and realistic. I don’t leave things until the last minute, and by deciding in advance what needs to be done when, I don’t get stressed or overwhelmed thinking that I won’t manage it! I also make sure that I allow time for doing nothing and time for last-minute plans! Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you always have to be doing something to keep busy. It’s OK to leave time to do absolutely nothing productive without feeling guilty.
If possible, make some sort of commitment that holds you accountable outside your job. Join a team, class or group with regular meetings or events, for example. This might not work for everybody, especially if you have children to look after or if you work regularly changing shift patterns, but it can be particularly beneficial to have something just for you that isn’t negotiable and encourages you to show up and take part!
Personally, I think it’s worth considering if you need to work as much as you do full stop. Calculate the minimum you need to earn to live the life you want and decide if you can afford to cut down or if there are more effective ways of working. My advice to anyone early on in their career has always been to live within your means and try not to overwork right from the start by focusing too much on the money. Once you get used to having a certain income and make big financial commitments, such as a mortgage that really stretches you, it is very difficult to take a step back and reduce your hours.
If you want more time for yourself and/or your family, you may also be able to reduce the time you spend doing things you don’t enjoy, and make more time for the things you do. Possibilities to think about include paying an accountant, maybe working with a hygienist or even getting a cleaner! Something you may also wish to investigate further is doing courses to improve your skills, which would then allow you to do more treatments you enjoy!
Finally, be strict with yourself and learn when to say no. This doesn’t just mean not taking on too many projects, it includes ALL your time. From responding to emails, staying late, anything! Your time is precious and you should treat it as such! Of course there are times we all have to do things we find boring or don’t really want to do, but we should really think carefully before we agree to them, to be sure that these tasks are in line with our goals, values and what we want to be doing with our life! I believe you have to work hard for the things you want, but at the same time it is crucial to prioritize and pace yourself.
Dr. Bethany Rushworth
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