20 Things You Can Do During a Summer Slowdown
Summertime is often a slower time in people's practices. People are out of school, out of town, and there are generally more cancellations and fewer intakes. For therapists who are newer to private practice, and who might not be as used to the ebb and flow, this might cause some anxiety. Instead of worrying about the slower weeks, harness the energy and vibe of summer to take care of yourself and your business. Here's a few ideas for how to use the extra hours.
1. Take a vacation yourself! This one seems obvious. Take time off, and make sure you are are really off- as in set up emergency coverage and unplug entirely from work. Do not check e-mail. Do not answer work calls. Just vacation. Your body, your mind and your patients will thank you for it. (Okay, your patients might not thank you at all for it, but it does help the therapy for you to be refreshed.)
2. Catch up on some reading. Right now I'm reading Essential Psychodynamic Psychotherapy-An Acquired Art by Teri Quatman in preparation for a course I am teaching in the fall. It's perfect for summer because her writing style is so approachable and enjoyable.
3. Take a couple of hours to look more closely at your numbers. Look over your profit and loss statements. Are there places where you are spending too much (think subscriptions you don't want anymore)? Spending too little (think investing in practice building support)? What is your average hourly fee right now? Is it what it needs to be to meet your income goals? Have no idea about profit and loss statements? Use the hour to learn about them.
4. Do some visioning. Is there a class you might want to teach? A workshop? A talk? What way of letting the world know about your gifts and services resonates with you? Being able to imagine it is the first step of getting outside your comfort zone.
5. Plan for fall. Lots of classes, groups and trainings will start up in the fall. Decide what you want to learn to keep things fresh, or where you want to invest in more support. (If you are in the Bay Area, check out my upcoming consultation group.)
6. Get outside and get some perspective. Go somewhere with an expansive view (I'm partial to the Oakland hills and the Marin Headlands) and get some perspective.
7. Socialize with colleagues. Learn about someone else's practice and how you can support each other over lunch at an outdoor cafe, or take a walk outside.
8. Harness your energy. We often feel like we have more energy when there's more sunlight. If this is true for you, how can you harness that energy and direct it toward a more challenging business project?
9. Try summer cleaning. Spring can be busier that summer, so try summer cleaning instead. Get rid of whatever cluttering up your office--outdated intake forms, hard copies of articles from grad school you keep thinking you'll get back to, errant to-do lists. Just make sure you check with your state's laws before shredding any paper patient files.
11. Get more exercise. I remember talking to someone who had just purchased an office building, which was a huge step outside her comfort zone, one that came with loads of responsibilities. She found that doing extra push-ups in the morning helped her feel emotionally strong enough to meet the challenge. Toned biceps were a bonus.
12. Appreciate yourself! Make a list of at least 25 things you have accomplished or are proud of in your business and your life since the start of the year. Often we are so focused on what we still want to achieve, that we forget to really let in the goodness of our prior efforts. Celebrate your successes of 2017 so far.
13. Work on your professional will. Ok. Not exactly summer fun. But If you don't already have a plan in place for your practice in the event that you are incapacitated, it is important to write one. Just like a regular will it is something that lots of people put off doing. Here's a link for some guidance.
14. Shop sales. I've been looking for a new sofa for my office. After 12 years, the one I've got is looking pretty worn. I'm hoping I'll find sofa 2.0 during a 4th of July sale so it can be delivered just in time for fall. Back to school sales are a great time to stock up on office supplies.
16. If you like to write, write. If you like blogging and writing as part of your marketing, write a bunch over the summer that you can have ready to post throughout the year.
17. Re-evaluate your systems. Do you want to move to an electronic health record program? Or a new bookkeeping system? Try making the change when things are slower. You'll have more time to check in with tech support if needed.
18. Listen to a podcast or TED talk. There are zillions of podcasts out there can inspire you around practice building, getting out of your comfort zone, and growing a business. Find one that resonates with you. Here's one to start- Brene Brown on vulnerability and hanging with it.
19. Check your energy leaks. Take some time to review your caseload. Are there situations where you have been letting something slide (a fee increase, collecting money owed, enforcing your cancellation policy). Consider what might be getting in the way and get some consultation if needed. These situations tend to suck your psychic energy. better to deal with them head on.
20. Give yourself a break. Ok, I couldn't quite come up with a 20th thing. But then it hit me. Give yourself a break. It is ok to not be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of the good. Embrace Winnicott and go for the "good enough", because you are.
Interested in consultation? I'd love to work with you (but I'll be on vacation for part of August). Click below to schedule.
Deb Lyman, LCSW helps therapists take care of themselves while serving others, by taking them though a process of practice development that is based on the pillars of a sustainable and nourishing practice- mindset, clarity, integrity, sustainability, and community. You can read more about the pillars on the How We Do It page.
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