In my 20+ years running my own businesses and 12 years of mentoring and coaching therapists on how to create and sustain a successful private practice, I’ve learned one core and essential strategy. You MUST have a relationship with clock and calendar that is harmonious, effective and doable or you will find yourself under an avalanche of overwhelm and headed for burn-out. As I have found myself teaching and preaching about this over the last 3 years of running practice-building MasterMind groups and mentoring training programs, I have seen the magic that happens when people have implemented my time management tips for therapists and coaches. I’ve also seen the floundering and frustration therapists and coaches experience when they don’t implement an effective time management system.
You may need to revamp your relationship with clock and calendar.
Therapists, in particular, are notorious for being perfectly capable to block off 50 minute sessions for clients, start on time, remove all distractions, be 100% present for a client during that 50 minute block of time and end the session on time. And yet, when it comes to getting case-notes done, implementing marketing strategies, networking, attending to self care they often feel frazzled and lacking any sense of order.
The coaches I’ve worked with often have practices that are conducted from a home-office where they are easily distracted by household chores, pets, needs of family members, etc. It can be difficult to adhere to a schedule efficiently when operating from a home-office so it’s all the more important to have a distinct system for managing time and cleaning up your relationship with the notion of time.
Your Relationship to the Concept of TIME is Important.
Ask yourself the following questions and consider journaling on these to get to the bottom of where your head and heart are with regard to the clock and calendar:
- Do you wake up at a consistent time each day and head to bed on schedule or do you have an erratic waking/sleeping schedule?
- Do you feel resistant to having to stick to a schedule or do you feel comforted by having a schedule?
- Are you on time for appointments and events or are you chronically running late or barely making it on time?
- Do you often feel rushed and pressured for time?
- Do you float through days, losing hours of unaccounted for time?
- Do you feel like a slave to the clock and calendar and feel resentful?
- Do you only schedule clients and trainings or do you use your calendar for personal matters and all tasks?
Once you identify your present tendencies, feelings and attitude toward the concept of time and scheduling, you can begin reshaping your relationship so it begins to feel like TIME is truly on your side and not the foe. Take the following time management tips for therapists and coaches and make a commitment to implementing these consistently in order to experience greater JOY and EFFICIENCY in your daily life – personally AND professionally.
Here are 8 Time Management Tips for Therapists:
The following tips are not only ones I can attest to from my own experience and what I’ve seen work for therapists and coaches but they are also practiced by the most successful people in the world. Success can be defined in many ways, but people who are successful experience a sense of well-rounded life & work FULFILLMENT. And this can only be achieved if you have a mastery and efficiency with time.
- Declare ONE calendar as your master calendar. Take it from me. Learn from the errors of my former ways. Do not try to keep up with more than one calendar UNLESS you have an electronic integration system where everything entered shows up in both places. Regardless, you need one master schedule you can program and consult on the regular.
- Schedule everything. And I do mean everything. Not just clients. Not just trainings and professional meetings. Schedule your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual self care. Schedule time to network and do community outreach. Schedule time to read. Schedule time for social media scrolling and engaging. Schedule the dog’s walk. Schedule your exercise class. Schedule dates with your spouse. Schedule play time with your children. Schedule visits with friends and relatives. Schedule time for meditation or prayer. Schedule EVERYTHING.
- Live & breathe by your calendar. Your calendar is your BEST FRIEND. Consult your calendar last thing before you go to bed at night and first thing when you wake up. Keep your calendar on hand at all times. Never agree to go somewhere or do something without consulting your schedule first. Think of your calendar as your touch-stone, your anchor. Learn to love the process of scheduling.
- Block off time for all tasks. Using a time-blocking system allows you to be intentional and laser focused in order to get stuff DONE! Designate a block of time for ONE TASK AT A TIME.
- Remove all distractions. When it’s time to dive into a scheduled task, that one task is all that matters. Close all tabs on your computer except the ones you’ll need for the task at hand. Shut your office door with an “In Session” sign. Turn your phone on do-not-disturb. Remember… when you are in session with a client you naturally do this so just carry that practice over to everything else on your schedule.
- Let a timer mind the time. Once you’ve blocked off time for every personal and professional task you have to do, pull out that handy dandy timer app on your smart phone and use it. This will enable you to dive deeply into the task at hand and make the very most of your block of time increasing efficiency thereby boosting your mood and sense of achievement.
- Schedule un-scheduled time. Yes, you read that correctly. Block off time for spontaneous-whatever-you-feel-like-doing every week. This will help that free-spirited part of you who doesn’t like having to answer to the structure of a schedule to feel fed and alive. Designate time where nothing at all is required of you so that you can be in the moment, feel into what your mind, body and spirit want to do right then and there. This might be a good time for creative juices to flow or time to take an extra walk if the weather is nice or time to chat with a friend or time to catch up on your favorite show. knowing you have some un-scheduled time on the schedule will help you feel in balance.
- Treat yourself, your family, your friends and everything as a client. You already know how to ensure your clients get your undivided attention during blocks of time. It’s time to do the same for everyone and everything else in your life! Be fully present for yourself and those you love by using the first 7 tips.
I will add that it’s easy to throw in the towel before you’ve given it a chance to really work. And this system WILL work if you really practice and give it a chance to take hold. These time management tips for therapists and coaches are particularly outlined for the trends I know for a fact therapists and coaches fall into when they do not have an effective time management system. So give it a try! And if you’d like some 1:1 career consultation check out my Career Navigation Program for Therapist and Coaches.