The daily life of the pharmacist is busy, sometimes chaotic and incredibly fast-paced. Prioritizing and establishing a plan to tackle your work day may seem impossible in this environment, but it is essential to your productivity. At times, it may seem like time is your enemy fighting against you and moving too quickly for you to keep up; but the truth is time is your biggest ally. In fact, there are 168 hours in every week. Take a moment to consider how much of that time you spend working. Then consider how much time you spend working with purpose. How many minutes do you spend feeling overwhelmed, procrastinating or distracted by the inability to concentrate? These activities result in time wasted, causing your productivity to plummet. However, there are key mindsets you can adopt and actions you can take to maximize the hours spent on tasks.
Start Your Day with Purpose
Your day doesn’t begin when you step foot into your pharmacy; your day begins the second you wake up. Before you arrive to your store and are faced with prescriptions waiting to be refilled, online orders piling up in a queue, phones ringing and customers waiting impatiently in long lines, start your day positively and with purpose. Your morning routine, or lack thereof, can affect the tone of your entire day. Instead of waking up and immediately checking your phone, browsing social media or letting the negativities of the previous day ruin your mood, take advantage of your “clean slate.”1
Spend the first hour of your day doing things you enjoy and that add value to your life.2 For some, these activities include meditating, reading about personal development, exercising or simply relishing alone time with a cup of coffee. Commit to waking up earlier to avoid being rushed and choose two valuable activities. Consciously creating a purposeful morning will better equip you for success throughout your busy day. As Jim Rohn, who is known as America’s Foremost Business Philosopher, said, “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”3
Listen to Your Body
Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, explained, “Many of us unwittingly train ourselves to ignore signals from our body that we need a rest…instead, we find ways to override this need with caffeine, sugar, and our own stress hormones – all of which provide short bursts of energy but leave us over aroused.”4
Listening to your body’s signals is crucial to your productivity. The body operates on cycles called ultradian rhythms, during which we experience peaks when we are most energized and periods when we are mentally and physically exhausted. Working with these natural rhythms allows you to perform better and maintain mental sharpness throughout the day.
Research has proven that the brain can only clearly focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time. This is why, after a while, you may feel like you aren’t able to concentrate on your task at hand. Afterward, a 20- to 30-minute break is required for you to renew your mind and work at your highest performance level.5 As pharmacists, lengthy breaks may not be possible due to your busy schedule, but taking short breaks when time allows is essential to rejuvenating your ability to think clearly and be productive. Even if you are only able to take a 5- to 10-minute break, make the most of your time. Go outside for fresh air or take a short walk to allow your mind to rest. Reclaim your ability to focus and connect ideas. Doing so could lessen the chances of inaccuracies occurring in the pharmacy and help you maintain a positive attitude with your customers and staff.
Learn to Prioritize
Starting your day with purpose also includes prioritizing. Before the chaos starts, prioritize your tasks. You are in control of your time and what you do with it, so decide what needs your immediate attention. Because your motivation and energy tend to fluctuate as the day progresses, it’s important to plan to do your high-level work early in the day. Concentrate on important, but not urgent, work first.6 Make a list of your daily duties with the most vital items at the top. Focus your energy on your top commitments first instead of wasting time deciding which tasks to tackle and ultimately draining yourself.
Your mind is most active in the morning. Take advantage of your peak time, the time span in which you feel the most alert, by focusing on tasks that involve critical decisions, problem solving and complex thought.7
Get Comfortable Saying No and Delegating
If your to-do list is so packed that it causes you stress instead of motivating you, practice saying no. Spread out the work by delegating routine tasks to your team. By doing so, you can concentrate on the important, time-critical matters at the top of your list. Giving employees tasks to complete and trusting them to do so can also build team morale. If your employees feel as if you trust them and believe in their ability to get the job done, your relationships will improve.8
Inspire Your Employees
Improve your pharmacy’s productivity as a whole by inspiring your employees. A satisfied employee is not necessarily an inspired one. In fact, inspired employees bring more voluntary energy to work and are 125 percent more productive than satisfied employees. Aside from focusing on required compliance activities, coach and motivate your employees.9 Show appreciation for their hard work. Offering incentives tends to be a successful way to raise employees’ momentum. For example, reward an employee of the month or highlight triumphs in department meetings.
Communication is also key to keeping employees positive and on track. Develop a nice rapport with your team instead of being closed off or reactive. Ensuring your employees are all on the same page is significant. Keep them informed of upcoming company or policy changes as well.10
End Your Day on Purpose
Ending your day on purpose is just as crucial as starting your day with purpose. Spending the last 20 minutes of your work day reflecting and prioritizing for the next day secures a productive start to the following morning.11 Developing purpose directly correlates with productivity and time management. A purposeful day is created consciously. By using these tips, you will ultimately reduce your stress, maximize your time and create a productive, motivating environment within your pharmacy.
For more information about The Energy Project, visit www.theenergyproject.com.
1,3 Oppong, Thomas. Start Your Day on Purpose and You Will Have Your Best. Day. Ever. Medium. April 30, 2017. Web. 28 June 2017. medium.com/personal-growth/start-your-day-on-purpose-and-you-will-have-your-best-day-ever-7e886c8ff302
2,4, 6,11 Oppong, Thomas. The 90/30 Challenge to SuperHuman Productivity. Thrive Global. June 26, 2017. Web. 28 June 2017. journal.thriveglobal.com/the-90-30-challenge-to-superhuman-productivity-df6e0f2f39e9
5,7 Oppong, Thomas. Start and End Your Work Day With These Principles in Mind. Thrive Global. June 13, 2017. Web. 28 June 2017. journal.thriveglobal.com/start-and-end-your-work-day-with-these-principles-in-mind-8ac15d7e77db
8 30 Tips to Boost Your Productivity in the Pharmacy. Elements. Nov. 28, 2016. Web. 29 June 2017. pbahealth.com/30-tips-to-boost-your-productivity-in-the-pharmacy/
9 Dietz, R.Ph., MS, Donald J. Retail Pharmacy’s Focus on Productivity and Efficiency. Inside Patient Care. April 2017. Web. 29 June 2017. www.insidepatientcare.com/issues/2017/april-2017-vol-5-no-4/458-retail-pharmacy-s-focus-on-productivity-and-efficiency
10 The Right – and Wrong – Ways to Motivate Your Pharmacy Team. Elements. April 5, 2017. Web. 29 June 2017. pbahealth.com/motivate-your-pharmacy-team/