Two years ago I had a plan for the most amazing December, culminating in a week 52 that future generations would speak of in awe and wonderment. Of course, nothing in December in eye care seems to go as planned, does it? 

My December plans for practice happiness, balanced with Christmas cheer and family time have changed over the years. As a new practice owner I was open every day but Christmas and New Year’s Day, thinking that was necessary for success. I left my young family, warm and snug in their pjs at home the day after Christmas to examine a schedule  full of patients… only to have half my schedule no-show, because, well, it was the day after Christmas! That appointment sure sounded like a good idea to them, until the day came and they wanted to be home with family or out taking advantage of after Christmas sales. 

The next year I decided I would simply close my office from Christmas Eve until January 2nd. I planned ahead and sent out flexible spending account reminders in early November, told everyone we would be closed and sent out emails imploring patients to call early if they want end of the year appointments. Can you guess what happened?

Probably not what you would expect but patients were fine with it. They actually appreciated the reminder to get exams scheduled early and, presumably, appreciated that having an eye exam was not something that added to their to-do list in the last bit of the year. I, however, got cabin fever BIG TIME. So much so that when the time came to plan this December I wanted no part of being closed that entire week. Go figure!

What’s the point? The point is that no one December and week 52 strategy is best. Ultimately the best plan is the one that works for you and your practice. If you love the busy-ness and exhilaration of being open 24 hours a day that entire week… do it! If you want that entire week to spend with your family all cozied up in your pjs or on a beach somewhere… do it! If you, like I do, fall somewhere in between… you do you. 

Isn’t that the point of owning your own practice anyway? Nobody ever said to themselves,  “I want to own a pracitice so that I can absolutely kill myself and be thoroughly unhappy on a daily basis working myself to death!” Decide what is most important to YOU… end of year sales, family time, or a combination of the two… and then make a plan for December that respects those goals. Nobody gets to tell you the best plan for you and your practice. 

Do you have your December already planned for this year and you are less than thrilled about it. Now is the time to plan for next year and make those changes you want to see. Give yourself the whole year to plan so that it can look how you want. And to make getting through this year a little bit easier here are a few tips for dealing with the stress of December and week 52:

  1. Write a thoughtful note to each of your employees and tell them how much you appreciate the job they do. They are away from their loved ones too. Focus on showing gratitude for the work they do during a busy, and typically stressful week. The bonus is that it will also help you stay focused on the positive too.
  2. Practice hospitality. This would be a great week to keep the coffee hot, the cookies plentiful and the smiles big. Offering not only a great eye exam but great hospitality to your patients will help everyone stay in a good mood, including you!
  3. Disconnect completely when not in the office. Do not take charting home. Do not work on emails at home. Those things can wait one more week. When you are done with the last patients of the day go home and be present with your family instead of worrying about the practice.
  4. Be generous. Plan now to give a portion of your week 52 profits to a charity. You will feel amazing with every sale made when you know that it will benefit someone in need. Take a vote, get recommendations from staff and patients, and decide on a deserving cause to donate to.
  5. Rest! Plan for a day (or two) off come January. The last weeks of the year take a lot out of us… plan now for some self-care in the new year. As a practice owner, if you aren’t taking care of yourself you can’t expect to be able to take care of everyone else.

I’d love to hear how you are planning to conquer December in your office! Share in the comments and let me know if these tips help you have a less stressed and more joyous holiday. Wishing you all the best in week 52 and beyond!