Clutter is the #1 thing I see that most dental offices are guilty of. Clutter creates visual chaos for those working within it and also for patients that see it. Offices often have stacks of clutter in highly visible places and what they don’t realize is that this can adversely impact how the patient is feeling about their experience at the office and can increase dental anxiety. Clutter is also one of the simplest things an office can do to improve the appearance of the office, both physically and perceptually by the patient. Here are some steps to help you get started.
- Do a clutter assessment. Walk through the front door of your dental practice, just as a patient would, and notice what you see. What stands out as obviously out of place? Start finding better ways to keep those items hidden or at least organized.
- External clutter assessment. Have someone who does not work at your office do a clutter assessment. It is often difficult to really see what needs improving when we are too familiar with a space. Pull anything that looks out of place to find a new space for it.
- Like items go together. I hired a professional organizer to help me organize my kitchen a few years back and the thing she said that always stuck in my mind was that “like items go together.” Where things are placed can have an impact on productivity as well as inventory control. If your team has paper towel storage in three separate places throughout the office, for example, you are more likely to run out or overstock. Keep things that are similar or function together in one common space for less issues.
- Contain the clutter. Some items unavoidably need to be “out” or accessible versus hidden away. For this, purchase matching organizers that you can use to put the items in. When things are in containers and neatly organized, they look much better than when they are simply laying on a counter, floor, or hallway. Think of not using trays to contain your dental supplies for each patient, it would be a mess to have all the instrumentation and products just laying all over the treatment room – that is why they are contained on one tray which makes them easier to carry in and easier to clean up! For high exposure areas, consider decorative organizers such as baskets or cloth bins – for clinical areas you can choose clear, gray, or white bins, whatever goes with your office colors best and will provide the most cohesive look.
- Accountability. Who is the most tidy person in your office? Or maybe a spouse frequently stops in and can help with ensuring things stay neat? Have an assigned individual do an impromptu walk through every few weeks to point out areas that are getting messy again. Keeping up little by little will be much more effective than doing another overhaul on the clutter. When every item has “a home,” it should be simple to ensure it returns to that home when no longer in use.
Enjoy how much more productive you and your team can be with a neatly organized office. To your patients, you will appear less overwhelmed, more in control, and more competent. Now, go take five minutes to sort out the papers on your desk! You’ll be glad you did 🙂