Can you really work less and become a more productive therapist in private practice? Can that really happen?!
I know this might seem like one of those clickbaity titles. Like once I explain my strategies it will turn out that I do more by working less than I used to. There will be some catch.
And though I used to feel like I did more when I used to work more hours, the reality is, I’m getting way more done now working just 15 hours a week than I did when I worked 40 or even 60 hours a week.
In this article I’ll outline how much I manage to get done in a 15 hour work week and why I think I’m more productive when I work less.
I’m Actually More Productive. Really.
It’s not just that I earn more dollars now that I’m working less than I used to, though this is true. It’s that I actually get more objective, measurable stuff done in a week when I work fewer hours.
I know this is a researched phenomenon and that I’m not the only one who experiences being more productive while working less.
My 15 Hour Workweek As A Private Practice Therapist:
- 8 hours of my work week come from the one day when my two kids are at daycare. The oldest goes to daycare three days a week, and the youngest goes just one day a week. Otherwise, I don’t have any other childcare right now. That gives me one solid workday where I can get stuff done from 9-5pm. And that day is when I see the majority of my therapy clients.
- 2 hours of my work week come from seeing therapy clients on Thursday evenings after my daughters are asleep.
- The last 5 hours are here and there during nap times and after the girls’ bedtime. I’ll film a video for my YouTube channel during naptime at some point each week.
4 Reasons I’m A More Productive Therapist and Business Owner:
1) Creativity Requires Space
- Both being a therapist and creating online content require a creative mindset. I need to have time away from work for my passive, preconscious creative process to unfold.
2) Time Scarcity Forms Healthy Pressure
- Back when I worked 40 plus hours per week, I spent a lot of time doing stuff that was really unproductive. Sometimes that meant scrolling social media or investing time in things I thought would help my businesses, but were not the most necessary items. For example, it would be really easy for me to get sucked into spending time learning some new business strategy when really I was procrastinating getting my “real” tasks done.
- When I have limited time windows, it creates a healthy pressure to prioritize the most important tasks to be completed. This helps me be a more productive therapist.
3) I Eliminate The “Fluff”
- Similar to the last point, when there isn’t time for “fluff”, the “fluff” magically goes away.
- I used to spend more time on scripting my videos, setting up my camera, and editing my videos. I wasted a lot of time fussing about things that didn’t actually help my business.
- For example, there was a time when I got really into filming with two camera angles. This added several hours to my set up and editing process. And in retrospect, those two camera angles were not really adding anything, and to me now, they just look kind of corny.
- Now I bang out a script and record a video in about an hour. And compared to the 5-10 hours I used to spend editing, I now spend 2-3. Yet my overall video quality has still improved over time. Some of this is because I’ve gotten better and faster as I’ve learned the skill of making videos, but some of this is because I stopped wasting time on stuff I didn’t need to focus on.
4) It’s Easier to Connect With Values
- Back when I was working too much, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I’d become anxious about where I was even supposed to be focusing my time and energy.
- Now, because I give so much time to my non-work values, when I finally sit down to get a task done for work I know exactly what’s important to focus on.
- Whenever a task presents itself I ask: “Is this worth the amount of time this is going to take me right now?” If the answer is no, I modify the task or scrap it.
Take A Look At Your Productive Time
I know it’s a privilege to be able to push the pause button and work fewer hours while still earning the income I want.
But, for anyone running their own business or working a salaried job, I bet there’s a bunch of stuff we all tend to do that isn’t necessary or that costs a lot of time while having minimal impact on the important outcomes we’re after.
Being A Productive Therapist Means Knowing your End Goals
So if you’re wanting to work fewer hours and get the same amount or more done, ask yourself what your end goals are.
Maybe your goal is to earn a certain income so you can support your or your family’s financial needs. Or to make a certain kind of impact in the community. Maybe your goal is as simple as wanting to see a certain number of clients per week, or creating an exit plan from your current job. Be crystal clear on what your most important goals are.
My Personal Goals:
- Be as available as possible to my kids and family in this season while still taking care of myself
- Earn a decent income while minimizing work hours
- Help as many people lean into being their best selves while remaining grounded in being my best self (which is part of the first two goals of taking care of myself and earning income)
Goals Help You Be Intentional With Your Time
Once you know what your main goals are, it makes the next step a lot more clear. Next, identify what items are worth spending your time on in order to arrive at those goals.
For me, that looks like spending time with my daughters, seeing a handful of therapy clients, and doing largely passive work for my businesses. My weekly YouTube videos are my primary funnel for that passive income, so right now I just put in the effort needed to make those videos and then I pretty much sign off.
Then, rearrange your schedule accordingly. I would experiment by making just small changes at first. If you change everything, it will be hard to know which changes made the biggest difference – whether for the positive or negative.
So each week, change one thing about how you approach your life tasks and see if the system is still running smoothly. Or possibly, better than before!
Are You Feeling The Cost of Long Hours?
Another reason that I am more intentional in being productive during my fewer hours of work each week is because earlier in my career I got caught up in hustle culture. I found that way of life so draining. Maybe you have too?
Take a look at my article about why I left hustle culture behind.
Or, you may be feeling like you are overwhelmed with all you have to do and are just trying to find a way to take a breath. If that’s you, you may be starting to experience burnout. I have a video that outlines some early signs that you might be headed towards burnout. Watch that here:
I hope this article helped you reevaluate how you use your time, and inspires you to find ways to be a more productive therapist with the time you give to your work.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.
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