We know that your time is important to you, but are you using it to your advantage? When running your own practice, it’s easy to let time—and your ability to leverage it—get the better of you. To keep your business running smoothly, your clients’ appointments scheduled, and all your paperwork submitted on time, you need to incorporate a time management strategy.
Scheduling. Schedule your week so that each day has an equal (or nearly equal) amount of tasks and appointments that you can commit to. It’s also not realistic to schedule every hour of your work day to be productive. Plan some time each day for distractions, breaks, or small moments of whatever brings you joy. These moments of “non-productivity” can oftentimes be moments of great inspiration and renewal.
Boundaries. Although you want to “do it all” and often try, the effort most likely leaves you feeling defeated, stressed, and uninspired. In order to do your best work and serve the clients who depend on us, it’s necessary to work on creating boundaries. Create office hours and stick to them. Resist answering emails or phone calls immediately (and certainly not if you’re on vacation!). When you respect your time, others will too.
Chunking or Grouping. It may be a silly name, but chunking or grouping is simply putting all of your tasks together by type of task or project. Then dedicate chunks of time on your calendar to work on that specific set of tasks. This helps to eliminate the dreaded multi-tasking that we all try to do (but which never truly works).
Incorporating self-care. Let’s nip this in the bud now—self-care isn’t selfish and it doesn’t “take up time.” Incorporating self-care into your schedule helps to create a work-life balance, clear your mind or make you feel better, which all ultimately helps you work more effectively and to a higher standard.
Task prioritization. During those times where it seems like you have a thousand things to do and not enough time to do them, task prioritization is the answer. There are several different methods out there, so finding which one works best for you may take some trial and error.
The ABCDE method is simple yet effective. Make a list of all your tasks and responsibilities. Then sort them using the parameters below. You can use this method for daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
- A – highest priority tasks
- B – medium priority tasks
- C – low priority tasks
- D – delegate tasks to another person
- E – eliminate task
The GTD or “Getting Things Done” method is slightly more complex but worth the effort. After you have established all of your tasks, you then sort them using a “decision tree” to put them in their proper place.
With each task, ask yourself:
- Is this task actionable?
- No? Throw in the trash or file for later if it’s a reference or a resource
- Yes? Determine which “pile” it should belong in.
- Right away: If you can complete the task in under two minutes
- Waiting for: if you’ve delegated the task to someone else
- Next action: if you don’t have to finish actions with multiple tasks right away
- Calendar: if your task has a deadline, always add it to the calendar
It may take a while to figure out which tools work best for you, but when it comes to running your own practice, efficient tools of time management are the secret key. As you manage your time within your business, remember that it’s all about balance and growth. Recognize what works for you today and realize that it may change as your business changes.