If there’s one thing that we never seem to have enough of as therapists, it’s time. We’re often reminded to value our time, but it’s hard to know what exactly that means. If I have a spare hour, should I fill it with a client, take a break for self-care, or work on marketing my practice? Those are all things that need to be done, so they all have value.
A lot of our struggle with time is simply part of the job. Therapy can be demanding, and involves managing a lot of tasks at once, often on your own. At the same time, at least part of our struggle with time is self-inflicted.
There are some relatively easy ways you could start recapturing some of your time today.
1. Act like your time has value, because it does
Another way to say this might be, “Stop doing menial tasks.” Once you start treating your time like it has real monetary value, it becomes easier to make other choices that involve spending money to get time back.
- My wife and I are both busy people, and we were tired of complaining about how our precious little time together at home was consumed with housework. So we hired a cleaning service to come in occasionally. Our stress levels decreased immediately.
Obviously, it’s easier to make those kinds of choices when you have the money to do so. But it’s also possible to get trapped in doing menial tasks because you’re not willing to invest your way out of them. Which brings me to the second example, one more specific to therapy practice:
- I know that some of our customers at SimplePractice process transactions outside of SimplePractice and then manually enter the transaction information into our system. Other processors may offer slightly lower credit card processing fees, but when you do the math, you find that saving that money… doesn’t actually save you money.
Here’s why. Let’s say you process a $100 credit card payment somewhere that offers a slightly lower processing fee — a difference of 0.2 percent, or for this transaction, 20 cents. And let’s say that you’re in the habit of manually adding these transactions to SimplePractice, so it only takes you one minute. A tedious minute, to be sure — this is not what you went to graduate school for — but just one minute.
I’ve heard people say that the difference in credit card processing fees adds up over time. And it does! But so too does the time you spend entering those transactions manually. When you do it that way, you’re working for an effective pay rate of $12 an hour. Your time is worth more than that. Whether you use SimplePractice or any other EHR that has this feature, utilize the built-in payment processing — enter the information once and let the system do the work for you.
The less time you have to spend on tedious work with minimal financial benefit, the more time you’ll have to do work that matters — and pays — more.
2. Shorten your sessions (a little)
If you struggle to keep up with notes, or feel burned out at the end of the day from not having had a break, you may want to consider shortening each session by just a few minutes. If you work with insurers, they don’t bill by the minute — you’re likely to get the same payout for a 38-minute session that you would for a 52-minute session. So, by shortening your typical session even just a few minutes, you free up a bit of time without losing any money.
The specific session length you land at is, of course, up to you. It may feel jarring to go from 50-minute sessions to 40 or even 45, but you may be astonished at the difference it can make in how you feel at the end of the day.
If you’re uncomfortable shortening sessions for existing clients, that’s understandable. You can always keep existing clients on their current schedules and make changes specifically for new clients, as long as you can trust yourself to truly hold that boundary. Over time, your caseload will transition to be only clients who came in knowing that their sessions would be shorter.
3. Simplify your workflows
Clients want and expect a lot of conveniences, and you can quickly feel frantic trying to juggle all of these expectations as they pile up.
How many different ways can clients contact you? Phone, email, web site, text message? How often do you check each channel? An easy way to save time and stress is to combine those channels where you can. This may be as simple as removing some forms of contact, like your website’s contact form (which, depending on how it is coded, may not be secure anyway).
Complex workflows are a disservice to you and your clients alike. Consolidating your channels and workflows can save you from spending unnecessary time trying to monitor and clean up so many different ones.
Our COO Fletcher Dennison and I taught a whole course on this concept, and how it can directly impact the quality of clinical care you provide.
One of the best things about working here at SimplePractice is the workplace culture. Even if you struggle to value your time, we value your time greatly. That’s why we work so hard at providing an integrated, streamlined solution for all of your practice management needs. It’s not just about selling a product, it’s about making it easier for you to focus your time and attention on the things that you can do that software can’t: Caring for your clients.
Your skills are rare and important. Your time is your most valuable resource. Spend it where it matters most.
Save time now
When you’re ready to return time from administrative tasks back into your practice and life, consider SimplePractice. We offer a free 30-day trial for new customers. Start yours today!
Additional Reading from Dr. Ben Caldwell
- 4 Ways Therapists Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- 4 Ways To Learn More from Continuing Education
- In Case of Emergency: The Professional Will (with Free Template)