Tag: time management

Feeling submerged under an ever-growing pile of administrative tasks, client sessions, and the constant pressure to balance work with personal life? You’re not alone. Running a private therapy practice brings with it a unique set of challenges that can make even the most seasoned professionals feel overwhelmed. Having worked with hundreds of affiliated clinicians over the years, we at HAM have learned that amidst these challenges lies an opportunity to redefine the way we view and manage our time. We want to explore practical, effective time management techniques specifically tailored for private therapy practice owners to help you reduce the overwhelm and find more joy in your work.

Understanding the Value of Your Time

The first step in mastering time management is recognizing that your time is incredibly valuable—especially in a profession built upon the premise of offering your time and presence to others. Each minute spent on less critical tasks is a minute taken away from your core mission: to heal and nurture.

Techniques to Reclaim Your Time

Prioritize and Plan

Start by distinguishing between what’s urgent and what’s important. Use tools like the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks and focus on what truly moves the needle for your practice (what’s important, what’s urgent, what’s not urgent, what you can delegate, and what you can delete). Daily planning can also be transformative—spend the first few minutes of each day or the last few minutes of the previous day making a to-do list organized by priority.

Embrace Technology

Leveraging technology can significantly reduce time spent on administrative tasks. A robust electronic health record (EHR) is essential to streamlining operations. For current affiliates using our EHR, be sure to take advantage of its many features and use it to its full capacity. (If you’re unsure how, we’d love to show you!)

Set Boundaries and Learn to Delegate

We see so many therapists falling into one common trap: believing they need to do everything themselves. We encourage you to Identify tasks that can be delegated or outsourced. For example, this might mean hiring a virtual assistant to manage emails and calls. It can even mean affiliating with us. After all, this was the foundation on which HAM was born. We offer administrative and billing support so you can spend more time with clients, doing the work you set out to do. Please, lean on us! It’s what we’re here for.

Setting clear boundaries around work hours and communication can also prevent work from spilling over into personal time.

Batch Tasks and Block Time

Group similar tasks together to reduce the mental load and increase efficiency. Schedule these batches during periods of the day when you’re naturally more productive. Time blocking can also be a game-changer. Allocate specific blocks of time for client sessions, administrative work, and importantly, breaks and personal time.

Reflect and Adjust

Regularly take stock of how you’re spending your time. Are there tasks that take longer than they should? Are you, perhaps, spending too much time on non-essential activities? Use these insights to adjust your approach, experimenting with different techniques to find what works best for you.

Implement a Self-Care Routine

Remember, time management isn’t just about squeezing every drop of productivity out of your day; it’s about creating spaces for rejuvenation and self-care. This is especially critical in a caregiving profession like therapy. Ensure you’re setting aside time for activities that nourish your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day.

The Road Ahead

Transforming the way we approach time management doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to experiment with new strategies. But by implementing these techniques, you’ll not only lessen that overwhelming feeling but also free up valuable time to focus on what matters most: providing quality care to your clients and leading a balanced, fulfilling life.

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For independently licensed mental health professionals who own their practices, time management is an essential skill. You are juggling your caseload, your schedule, attentive care to your clients, and running your own business. Not to mention personal and family responsibilities – your plate is full.

To avoid overwhelm and the feeling that you just can’t get everything done, consider trying a few things to help with overall time management. Remember back in December when we talked about the issues with multi-tasking? Well, we’re revisiting the topic in order to help you strengthen your own time management talents.

Focusing on a single task at a time is a more effective time management skill because multitasking is distracting, slows you down, impairs executive function, and makes you make more mistakes. Some studies estimate that when you attempt to multitask, you actually end up taking 40 percent longer to finish the project than you would have taken if you’d given it your complete attention.

What to manage your time more effectively? Try to avoid:

  • Bouncing from one device to another; it’s just as distracting as bouncing from one task to another. Avoid spending time on multiple devices at once (aka media multitasking).
  • Constantly checking your phone or email.
  • Interrupting others who are in focused activities.

Instead, try this:

  • Self-regulate to purposefully avoid multitasking.
  • Time blocking – a powerful way to maintain control over your schedule by blocking off time on your calendar each day for specific tasks
  • Turn off electronic devices.
  • When interrupted, finish what you started first, if you can.
  • Silence online notifications. These are mini distractions!
  • Engage in single-tasking as much as possible.
  • Say no sometimes – it’s okay; we all take on too much at times.
  • Give others your full attention.
  • Model the behavior you wish to see.
  • Encourage and make time for mindfulness and mental wellness.
  • “Chunk” (single-task) your time, setting aside 25 minutes to two hours for each activity.

Is all Multitasking Bad for You?

While the research is pretty clear that multitasking isn’t healthy for you, there is some nuance in the study results. Not all tasks require our complete concentration and focus. We can, for example, fairly effectively sing and take a shower at the same time.

The human mind is “evolutionarily scripted for monotasking,” writes psychologist Jeff Comer, Psy.D. As tasks increase in complexity (and thus need more of our cognitive skills available), our ability to be efficient decreases when we multitask. So next time you are inclined to “get more done” and, say, text and write a paper, or finish up that email while you’re listening to a Zoom call? Think again. There is a real cost to your productivity and performance.

A Healthier Approach to Time Management

To complete a task, we must set a goal, identify the information we need to achieve it, and disregard irrelevant distractions. When we invite irrelevant distractions by attempting to focus on more than one task at once, we take away from our ability to complete the tasks. Over time, this behavior leads to more distraction. Research is ongoing to determine the long-term effects of multitasking on our brain function. For now, we know that studies show there are short-term negative consequences. To combat the erosion of concentration and focus that multitasking can produce, we can develop stronger mindfulness habits and engage in single-tasking.

Perhaps it’s worth pulling back and considering why we invest in time management techniques in the first place. As Anne Helen Petersen recently asked in her article, “The Diminishing Returns of Calendar Culture,” what would happen if we decouple time management and optimization from our ideas of “success” altogether?

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