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These 4 D's are Essential When Planning Your Year in Practice

Deb Lyman, LCSW

· Private Practice,Productivity,Getting it Done,Goals

The new year is only a few days away, but there's still time to set your private practice goals for 2018 and plan for an amazing year ahead. In the last post, I wrote about the importance of asking yourself if something is a Yes Yes before agreeing to do it. Keeping Yes Yes or No in mind can also help you determine what projects and tasks you are going to do, delegate, drop or delay in 2018.

Many therapists in solo private practices believe they have to do everything on their own, and their time can look like a juggling act- doing intake calls, writing notes, marketing, emptying the wastebasket, ordering office supplies, training, and more, all in between the actual work of seeing clients. And while it is true that you need to wear a lot of different hats, being a solo practitioner does not, I repeat, does not mean doing everything or trying to be all things to all people. There are options!

photo by Tachina Lee through Unsplash

1. You can Delegate. 

Running and growing your business is much more enjoyable when you spend most of your time on things you enjoy and do well. And while bootstrapping and DIYing are usual go-to's for folks just starting out in practice, it’s also important to consider whether you are using your non-income-earning hours efficiently. Are you spending loads of time trying to figure out Wordpress? Time that could be better spent elsewhere? Then it's time to delegate. Can you hire someone to update your website? If money is tighter, can you delegate by hiring someone to teach you the essentials rather than trying to learn it all on your own? Perhaps you can even do some sort of swap with a tech-savvy friend.

You can also delegate tasks that don’t require you be the one to do them, like insurance billing or managing a social media account. As you earn more income, you’ll have more options about what you can delegate. One thing to consider- make sure you really know your voice and your aesthetic before delegating any writing or design projects.

2. You can Delay it. 

Let’s say you’ve been wanting to hire another clinician and but don’t quite have enough referrals to help them easily build their caseload. Hiring associates might be a Yes Yes goal, but there are some steps you'll need to take to get there first. You can set yourself up for success if you delay hiring and focus on making sure you first have some strong sources of consistent referrals. You'll still be working on the Yes Yes project but in a more strategic way.

3. You can Drop it.

Here’s where the Yes Yes or No question really comes in handy. Do your projects make sense for your overall business strategy? Are you agreeing to things out of shoulds or from a place of fear? It the project you have in mind going to take you time and energy away from a more important goal?

Keep a running list of all your amazing entrepreneurial ideas. It’s great to keep the creative juices flowing. Let them flow. But know that not all those ideas will be implemented, and that’s ok. What you focus on in 2018 has to make sense for your business and for your life, and just because an idea is potentially lucrative doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Again, if it’s not a Yes Yes, it’s a no. Drop the projects that just don’t work for you or your business. If you just can’t bring yourself to drop it, delay it for now, and reassess in a few months.

4. You can Do it. The things that remain on your to-do list should be Yes Yes items that utilize your strengths, are necessary to meet your goals, and make sense for your business and your life right now.

Delegate like a boss!

Here’s an example of using the Yes Yes or No to determine when to delegate, delay, drop, and do:

Say you've been wanting to get your website up and running but the project seems totally overwhelming. You don't trust your editing skills, and you keep tweaking and re-tweaking the copy, continuing the cycle of perfectionism and procrastination. You fall into a similar rabbit hole around design decisions. You know that getting the website up is a YesYes (truthfully it's a YesYesLetsGetItDoneAlreadyYes), but you get stuck when thinking about the whole project.

Use the 4 D’s to break it down. Is doing all the editing a YesYes? How about the design? When you think of those things, you just feel dread. The editing is not a YesYes. It's a no. Instead, delegate. Ask a friend who is good at copywriting, or invest in hiring a copywriter for a few hours to edit and hone the copy. You can delegate the design aspect as well. There are options at various price points, from template sites where you just drop in your copy to getting a bespoke site designed for you. You’ll still have to make design decisions, but hiring out can mean the difference between scrolling through endless font options and choosing between just two or three curated options.

Is there any part you can delay? Of course. If you are totally new to practice, you can start with a one-page design with a clear call to action and inviting about section. Once that’s tackled, you can add a services page, or and then consider a blog where you can give your target niche more valuable content over time.

What about drop? Well, you’re already clear that you can’t drop having a website, but you could drop (at least for now) the idea of a fully bespoke Wordpress site with multiple landing pages and freebies. Maybe a simple template site is totally fine for your current business needs, and as you grow, you can reassess. Don’t forget that the perfect is the enemy of the good. So why not drop a grandiose vision and focus on clear, functional, and finished.

Using the 4 D’s will help you direct your energy toward the projects that excite you, leverage your strengths, make sense right now, and make the best use of your non-client time.

How are you using the 4 D’s? I’d love to know!

Want to get your 2018 practice plans down in writing? Download my free 2018 planning workbook below.

Also, if mastering money matters is at the top of your Do list for 2018, check out my upcoming class on January 24th in Oakland, CA.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!