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We asked ODs to share holiday dos and don’ts in effort to keep your holidays humming. Two big themes emerged: prioritizing family time and not allowing the stress to get you down. Take a look.
We all know the holidays are a great time of the year.
But they’re also stressful.
In addition to fun, you have more demands on your time both personally and professionally. Gotta decorate the house…and the office. Gotta plan for holiday gifts for family and staff.
Throw in those office stressors that come only this time of year-looking at you, end-of-year benefits expiration-and the holidays can switch from jolly to hectic in a hurry.
We asked ODs to share holiday dos and don’ts in effort to keep your holidays humming.
Two big themes emerged: prioritizing family time and not allowing the stress to get you down.
Take a look.
Planning is key for both your staff and your patients.
Says Christine Sindt, OD, FAAO: “Don't forget that lab people go on vacation too, so make sure to warn your patients about possible delays in getting contact lenses or glasses.”
Dr. Sindt also says to make sure the boundaries are clear about who is working and when.
“If you take off early, your staff will want to leave early, too,” she says.
Diana Canto-Sims in Chicago always close early before the holidays and makes sure everyone knows.
“We are proactive about our schedule letting our patients know via social media platforms, on our answering service, and posting physical signs around the practice with our schedule for the holidays,” she says.
Tracy Schroder Swartz, OD, FAAO, agrees. “Tell patients way in advance when you will be closed so they get their glasses and contact lenses ordered in time,” she says.
To prevent calls about non-emergencies, Melanie Schultz Ruoff, OD, suggests not providing your cell number to patients.
Going into the holiday season without knowing how you will handle staff gifts and/or bonuses is asking for trouble.
Dr. Sindt warns, beware the office holiday party.
“Decide ahead of time what bonuses and our gifts you are giving, and make it consistent,” she says. “If you set a precedent, it has to be sustainable every year.”
Chief Optometric Editor Ben Casella, OD, FAAO, cautions his fellow ODs not to eliminate holiday bonuses.
“We all saw what Randy Quaid did to that boss in Christmas Vacation,” he says.
Asking a patient to return for another visit is not a bad thing, especially if more testing or discussion is required.
“Don't try to reinvent the wheel for a given patient, if the schedule is busy,” says Bill Potter, OD, in Freehold, NJ. “Bring ‘em back. Right eye tomorrow, left eye Monday.”
Beware the flying champagne corks!
“Warn patients and staff, and supervise the drunken uncle about draping the champagne bottle with a kitchen cloth or pointing that cork from the bubbly toward a wall!” says Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO.
Marc Taub, OD, FAAO, suggests taking time before firing off a reply to a negative review or email.
“Don't email back about a complaint right away,” he says. “Take 24 hours to cogitate and form a reply.”
Time is a commodity you can’t get back, and the holidays are a special with family, especially children. Don’t shortchange yourself or your family by spending too much time at the office.
“Take the time with family, especially children,” says Dr. Schroeder Swartz. “You can always make money, but you can't redo the holidays. Avoid taking time from family to make money unless it is required for basic necessities.”
Dr. Casella recommends ODs take that extra day off they were thinking about.
“Your wealth-especially during the holidays-is measured in more than dollars,” he says.
Enjoy every minute with the people you love, urges Dr. Canto-Sims.
“If you can't stand people, spend this time with yourself,” she says. “Self-care is essential to survive the holidays. Life is too short to spend with yucky people.”
Related: What ODs are grateful for in 2017
Joan Hansen, OD, sums it up: “Don’t go to the office when you don’t need to be there.”
Don’t forget that patients and staff celebrate other winter holidays, such as Hanukkah, Solstice, or Kwanzaa.
“I try to be non-biased and tell everybody ‘Happy Holidays!’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas!’ because not all our patients celebrate Christmas,” says Houston OD Brook Komar.
With all that’s going on along with normal day-to-day work and items on your to-do list, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Holiday stress is very real; don’t let it ruin your holidays.
“Don't overwork, enjoy your time off,” says Justin Bazan, OD.
Angel Adolfo Camblor, OD, recommends ODs just “go with the flow” for a happier holiday season.
The holiday season can be busy with people trying to get in before the end of the year and be stressful for us and our staff, says Bryan Wolynski, OD.
“Make sure to take time for yourself and enjoy the holidays with friends and family,” he says. “This will also reflect on your staff and make your office a happier place.”
Related: 13 holiday dos and don’ts for ODs
Says Dr. Canto-Sims: “Don't spend time with yucky people, and don’t stress out having to work because people leave things for last minute. Other people’s lack of planning should not be your inconvenience.”
Don’t let the craziness of the holidays get you down-they are supposed to be fun, not stressful, cautions Dr. Schroeder Swartz.
“If it is stressful, ask for help,” she says. “And coffee.”
Don’t bury yourself in your devices over the holiday season, says Whitney Hauser, OD, or the season will pass you by.
“In our instant information society, it takes effort to walk away from technology and be in the moment with friends and family,” she says. “You don’t want to miss moments you’ll never get back.”