9 ways to manage your time as a private practitioner

blob-decoration<

The support you provide your clients lies at the heart of the work you do as a private practitioner. A successful practice will always make this a priority, but there are other tasks that require attention to sustain your practice as a business, such as administration, marketing, finance and CPD.

There will be areas of business that come more naturally and not every task will take the same amount of time. A variety of tools and resources are available to help you in the areas that you may find daunting, automating processes to improve efficiency.

The end goal of effective time management is twofold:

  1. To free up as much of your time to dedicate to your clients.
  2. To manage your workload so that it doesn’t overwhelm your work-life balance.

We have found the following tips to be helpful in making these goals a reality.

Calculate your hours of treatment

You will know how many hours you need to spend treating clients by calculating the income that you need to sustain. You can then allocate fixed time slots accordingly. It may be tempting to bend the rules and see clients in your non-client time, but this may compromise the time available to attend to other aspects of your business. 

Schedule follow-up time after seeing your clients

It’s best practice to update treatment plans and make notes immediately after each appointment, managing your caseload to ensure you have adequate time to amend clinical records between clients.

Managing your diary

The type of diary you use will come down to personal preference. You may prefer a traditional paper diary that you can carry with you wherever you go, or an online diary that you can access from any device. Online diaries are usually easier to manage, integrating into your routine with automated reminders. Employees and colleagues can also access your schedule where necessary, and there is no risk of losing your diary. There is a variety of management software available to help you manage your schedule.

Create a daily routine

A daily routine that you stick to will be the heartbeat of your business. Your tasks may vary from day to day but setting a routine that adapts to your schedule will maximise productivity and set clear boundaries between your working hours and personal time. Think carefully about what times of day are better for different tasks and you will accomplish a lot more with a smile on your face!

The Power of When, written by sleep doctor Michael J Breus, will help you understand the best times of day to complete certain tasks based on your sleep habits. You can take a quick quiz to ascertain your sleep routine and receive recommendations on how to structure your time.

Make the most out of your ‘To-do list’

It’s important to set aside time for every aspect of your business on a weekly basis to ensure nothing is neglected. To optimise time management, we recommend creating a daily ‘To-do list’ so that all of your important tasks are accounted for. Ideally, you will want to be setting aside time to care for each of these areas of your business:

  1. Sales and Marketing
  2. Accounting and Finance
  3. Consumer Care
  4. HR & Compliance
  5. Practice Management
  6. Professional Development
  7. Covid-19 Updates

Identify which tasks consume your time

It’s important to identify the activities taking up the majority of your attention. It may be because certain tasks don’t play to your strengths, or perhaps perfectionism is getting in the way.

These tips will help increase productivity in these areas:

  • Set a time limit on an activity to ensure it doesn’t overrun
  • Eliminate distractions whilst you work
  • Look into automating some processes if possible
  • If it’s an option, delegate tasks to an employee

If you have a team or are working on a project requiring the input of multiple people, implementing processes like Scrum can be a lifesaver! Scrum is an agile project management framework that promotes positive outcomes through team learning, self-organisation and reflection. It will help you to effectively manage your time across every aspect of your project.

Automate your processes

Practice management software can automate some of your processes, such as accounting, managing your diary, maintaining clinical records and documenting your CPD. You may choose software that will manage certain areas of your practice, or an application that can handle everything.

The correct management software will reduce time spent on administration, ensure data is kept securely and improve client communication. We have reviewed some of the top practice management software to help you decide if such programmes could be useful for your practice.

Recognise when something needs to change

Embrace change and failures along the way – it’s part of building a successful business. It’s useful to get into the habit of reflecting on your business, making this part of your weekly schedule so that you can plan for the future.

And remember…

There will be times when things feel chaotic, an expected and inevitable aspect of all business. This is especially relevant as we navigate Covid-19, when all aspects of normal life have been disrupted. Scheduling time to ‘catch up’ on overwhelming areas of your practice will ensure you can meet the overwhelm with enough time and space to overcome it.

Have you got any other time management tips of your own that you’d like to share?