A Voice in the Arena: Time Famine by Dr. Chad Foster

A Voice in the Arena: Time Famine   

by Chad Foster, DDS, MS, editorial director


I’ve written before about my admiration for orthodontists. We are quite the collection of driven, disciplined and often overachieving individuals in both our personal and professional lives. This is true almost without fail with each colleague I am privileged to meet. We’re the type of people who constantly run at 95%+ capacity in our lives; we’ve contorted and stretched ourselves to get where we are and where we want to be. And in my opinion, as long as gratitude is riding shotgun and our drive comes from our truest desires and not from the lazy river of “not-enoughness,” that is all good.

But when operating at such a high capacity in our practice, in our family and in our other passions, no matter how shrewd we are in multitasking and moving efficiently, the clock negotiates with no one. In my life, I can say that the clock and I have a very close—sometimes uncomfortably close—relationship. To do the things I have to do, the things I want to do, and to meet the daily unexpected things that arise, I am constantly watching the clock—in a way, living in service to the clock.

I try my best to plan and prearrange in this service to the clock. The quality time with the kids and my wife, my practice, the workout, vacations and any other interests or plans that might be left—it’s all negotiated ahead of time with that which I serve.

Since having my second child—Sadie, now 10 months old—I’ve come to more consciously accept the fact that I suffer from time famine more than I would like. When I pull back and reflect, just like most of you fortunate orthodontists out there, I realize my life is full of things that have been built from the expense of my time and energy. I realize now that I need to be much more aware of how I spend it. Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should. Is making the clock our constant companion worth the efficiency of what is produced? Often yes, sometimes no—the answer is surely a gray area.

But again to repeat: Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. For me, internalizing the clock to tick with the rhythm of my life has been absolutely necessary at times, and my life has benefited from my ability to do so, much like yours surely has as well. Whatever point you are at in life or your orthodontic career, it’s important to remember that what got you to where you currently are is not at all what will be needed to get you to where you truly desire to be next.

My hope for those who live too much of their lives in an uncomfortably close relationship with the clock is that we renegotiate our terms of service. Spending time to routinely question how and why we spend our time is great use of it. And if you do find some time you can take back, don’t just view it as more to spend; view it as what it really is—greater distance between you and the clock.


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