Ah, private practice… visions of long lunches with friends, scheduling clients at your convenience, easily finishing work to have weekends off. But the unexpected time demands can soon have you writing notes or returning calls at all hours of the day and night. And weekend’s off? Forget it, that’s catch up time.
I’ve been there. My first few years in practice, I worked 7 days a week with no breaks.
But, by following a few simple guidelines, you CAN have the time to do the things you enjoy. Based on my experience and those of my clients, here are 5 simple ways to help you stay on track.
1. Block your schedule into segments.
Working with clients requires that you be able to focus your attention on the person in front of you , the entire time they’re in session. Trying to switch back and forth between clients and marketing or administrative tasks just doesn’t work. You’ll be less effective and less productive due to getting back into the right state of mind.
The simple solution is to break your schedule into segments. Block out a few hours for each type of activity during the week. You’ll get more done in less time because you won’t have as many transitions.
To be even more productive, keep the same segments each week whenever possible. You’ll be amazed at the difference sticking to a weekly routine makes.
2. When working from home, Have a separate, distinct work area.
It’s really easy to get distracted when working from home. Anywhere you look you can give you another to-do item for your list.
When you have a specific work only space, it’s a lot easier to stay in “work mode.” Safe the laundry for “cleaning mode.” (Or even better, hire someone to do it for you.)
3. Limit the time wasters.
Trust me, I know how easy it is to login to email or Facebook and lose hours of time. So set a limit for yourself.
Decide how often you’ll check email or voice mail (2 to 3 times a day is MORE than enough to allow you to stay on top of responding to contacts while getting a WHOLE LOT MORE done in the same amount of time.)
Limit the amount of time you’ll spend on social media and have a specific purpose for logging in.
4. Maintain healthy work-life boundaries.
Decide on your work schedule and when you’re working, work. When you’re not working, turn off the phone and shut down email.
Many of your friends and family will see your self-employed status as an invitation to see you or talk to you whenever they want. When they call to chat or invite you to meet, politely remind them you’re working and ask if you can call them back after work. You’ll feel much more energized if you follow a more traditional work schedule (evenings and weekends off) instead of scheduling social activities during the work day.
5. Work with your moods and energy.
Keep track of your natural mood and energy cycles when scheduling your time. If you’re more productive in the mornings or evenings, schedule a chunk of time to take care of administrative tasks like billing or responding to emails that fits you.
Private Practice can be very isolating at times so it’s important to stay connected. Use those gaps in your schedule (like when you have a last-minute cancellation or no-show) to follow up with a friend or a colleague.
Need help talking about your fee, I suggest getting a copy of my workbook How To Answer “What Do You Charge?” It’s FREE and includes a simple step-by-step script for what to say and how to say it comfortably and with confidence. I’ve also included a bonus to help you handle Sliding Scale, too. It’s super easy to follow. That’s why my clients have experienced such great results from it. You can get yours at http://katiegoode.com/.