Jennifer: What are some of your favorite systems and ways that you keep your practice running smoothly/organized?
Lauren: Simple Practice is my favorite all-in-one system. I utilize it for scheduling, text reminders to patients, intake paperwork, filing insurance claims, my session notes (you can even create a template for your PIE/SOAP notes so you can click through), and more. I also have my Simple Practice calendar synced with my iPhone which makes scheduling networking before and after work a breeze.
For to-do list/task management I use Work Flowy which I really like. I also keep a paper planner as back up which calms my own nerves/distrust in technology more than anything else.
For my accounting… I use Quickbooks Self-Employed. I use the desktop version and the app. For my website, I use GoDaddy for hosting and support.
Jennifer: What do you outsource in your practice?
Lauren: The only thing I outsource is my taxes which I highly recommend. By using a company, I believe they found many more deductions than I could have found on my own.
Jennifer: How did you learn how to effectively run your business. Did you have a mentor?
Lauren: I did the Abundance Practice Building Group with Allison Puryear in person in Asheville. It was tremendously helpful and I feel as though Allison covers everything you would possibly need to know (from networking, practice management, fee setting, marketing, etc) in order to open your business. Now that I have been open almost two years, I find that online groups as well as having friends in Asheville in private practice are the best support as a business owner.
Jennifer: If you could go back and do something different in terms of business management and organization, what would you have started right away?
Lauren: If I could go back, I would have started scanning paperwork (client homework, art work, signed consent forms) from Day 1. I am completely paperless now but that would have been easier to begin on Day 1.
Jennifer: How many patients do you typically see in a day and how did you make this decision?
Lauren: I work Monday- Friday and typically see four to five clients per day. I made this decision because for me personally I enjoy having long breaks each day (or the flexibility to come in later) more than working four days a week. I also enjoy working from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 12-8 p.m. which I found out over time, through experience.
Jennifer: What are your boundaries around answering work email?
Lauren: I have very strict boundaries around work email and intentionally schedule two time periods a day for it at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. I am a firm believer in the adage that “You run the day or the day runs you” and I know I can fall into the email rabbit hole if I don’t schedule time for it and stick to it.
Jennifer: Tell me about some of your favorite self-care practices during your workday and on the weekend.
Lauren: I begin and end each work day with a 10 minute mindfulness meditation. I love the Rituals app and Insight Timer. In between each client, I take at least a five minute break for water and stretching, and set a new intention/affirmation for each client. This helps me close one session and open the next energetically.
Outside of work, I love journaling and art journaling as well as walks outside, yoga, and using the five minute journal app each day.
Jennifer: What are some of your best tips for work/life balance as a self-employed therapist?
Lauren: I am a firm believer in setting boundaries around “work time” and “free time.” I block my time in my planner/calendar and unless it is an emergency or I have a deadline coming up, I hold firm to my schedule and do not work outside my allotted time. This took some trial and error as well as time to get right, but I hold firm to it now and it has made a huge difference! I do not check my email outside of designated times and I go completely tech free after 9 p.m. In the mornings, I don’t check my email or social media until I have had self-care time first. With any kind of routine where you are seeking balance, practice makes perfect and I also believe it is crucial to get very clear on your values, where you tend to waste time and if how you spend your time is aligned with your values.
Connect with Lauren: http://laurenwoodardlcsw.com/