What Happened to Work-Life Balance for Virtual Practitioners?

Redefining Work-Life Balance at Home

Work-life balance, work-life integration, or work-life harmony. However you define your ideal, symbiotic relationship between work and your personal life, it’s become even more of a challenge to achieve a sense of balance when working from home. And frankly, working from home can feel like an endless all-hours-of-the-day cycle of email, text, chat, and telehealth sessions. 

As an entrepreneur running a private practice, work-life harmony may already feel far-fetched. But mounted with the pressure of transitioning to new workflows, it can start to seem completely infeasible.

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-from-Home Experience

When it comes to managing the various moving parts associated with running a virtual practice, it’s all about balance. Think of balance as a verb—not a noun. Most often, practitioners are advised to achieve balance, but balance is not a destination. Rather, it’s an ongoing action that must be cultivated and maintained. 

When it comes to balancing your work with your personal life, use these five little tricks to help you redefine your priorities and center yourself.

1. Define your workspace.

Whether every inch of your house is overrun by children, you can’t seem to find a spot that’s not visible on your partner’s Zoom call, or you’re working with very limited square footage, the challenge of creating a “home office” can take some creativity and imagination—to say the least. But by physically designating a workspace in your home, you can be more intentional about where your personal life ends and work life begins

If you don’t have physical walls separating your space, you can use tall furniture like bookshelves to create a division, or even clear out some closet space for a private nook. Wherever you set up, consider what’s behind you. When conducting telehealth sessions, clients are going to see a part of your home. You can neutralize your background by throwing up a sheet or angling your camera away from high-traffic areas.

Best Practices for Telehealth Appointments with SimplePracticeNo matter how unorthodox your solution may be, keep that space reserved for getting work done. So at the end of the day, you can close your laptop and walk away—even if it’s just to take ten steps to your kitchen counter.

2. Time-theme your workdays.

Time-theming, or timeboxing, is a productivity method widely used by seasoned entrepreneurs and remote workers. Start by turning your long scribbled to-do list into a time-segmented calendar. Then, dedicate a certain amount of time each day to completing a certain task. 

It doesn’t have to be specific. Just choose a broad theme to help give clarity, purpose, and intention to your working hours. You don’t have to be that granular with it either. If you prefer more flexibility, try creating a theme for each weekday instead.

Whether you’re blocking time for billing, scheduling, or telehealth sessions, this method can help you achieve better organization, control, and productivity. So you’re actually getting things done during work hours. This will help you from carrying it into your “personal life hours.”

3. Schedule bathroom breaks.

Yes, bathroom breaks… and sunshine breaks, walking breaks, screen breaks—all of it! If you have a stacked calendar with back-to-back appointments day-after-day, you’ll eventually reach a breaking point. Always schedule appointments with a time buffer in between, so you can finish the day strong with your last client. 

Maybe you were already doing that with your in-person appointments, but a virtual practice is different. Your needs may differ. Establish a new routine you can comfortably follow in your new environment. A separate, private office is a controlled environment, but at home, you have to completely restructure your work routine.

4. Set boundaries.

It can be uncomfortable and difficult to set boundaries that you can actually stick to. But even in unprecedented times, you still need to create meaningful boundaries with clients and colleagues. For example, Dr. Nikki Rubin, Psy.D, a SimplePractice Learning CE instructor, decided not to correspond with clients via email because she didn’t want to commit to checking and responding to messages at all hours of the day. She also had concerns about clients emailing her about things that should be reserved for in-person conversations.

But with the addition of Secure Messaging to the SimplePractice Client Portal, Rubin was able to strike the right balance for her. “I decided to try it because I felt I could better maintain boundaries,” she says. “I don’t use my personal email. Once I terminate with someone, they don’t have access to Secure Messaging anymore. I also get the convenience of not having to play phone tag, which has been really nice.”

SimplePractice Secure Messaging helps Work/Life Balance

SimplePractice’s Secure Messaging feature streamlines all of your client and colleague communications in one secure, HIPAA-compliant place, so you can safely chat and share private documents. No matter how you choose to set your boundaries, make sure any digital contact you make with clients is dedicated to work—and work only—so you can actually disconnect at the end of the day.

5. Cultivate peer communication.

During any major transition in life, it’s essential to have a support system. It’s important to reach out to individuals who understand what you’re going through on a personal and professional level. Just take it from someone who’s been offering virtual sessions from her home for years. 

Telehealth expert Pamela Suraci, MA, LMFT, CIRT explains, “You’re going to want to make sure that you check in with colleagues, friends, and family members. I do a lot of telehealth, so I’m kind of the person that people call for things like, ‘How do you do informed consent for this?’ and ‘Where do you sit?’ I love giving out that information. I’m happy to do it, but selfishly, it’s just good for another therapist to give me a call.” 

Suraci goes on to share, “I just really like being able to talk to my colleagues because we’re all in this boat together. It’s different from what our family members might be going through.” The cathartic relief of professional camaraderie can help you provide better service to your clients, and can even decrease chances of burnout. 

Not sure where to start? Check out the SimplePractice Community—an active online group of peers and colleagues to connect with on all things related to private practice.

More Resources to Support You

Here are some additional resources to inspire, inform, and enrich your work-from-home experience.

What Coronavirus Means for Your Office Lease — Working from home but still paying for a lease? Here’s what you need to know.

20 Essential Telehealth Tips for Your Virtual Practice — Watch this video interview with telehealth expert Pamela Suraci, MA, LMFT, CIRT.

Why Change is Actually a Good Thing — With change comes transformation. See what steps you can take to make the most out of your situation.

How the Stimulus Package Impacts Your Practice — Watch this video interview with Simple Profit Founder Jennie Schottmiller, LMFT, CPA.


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