Working from a home office is different from the clinic in many obvious ways. However, this doesn’t mean that working outside of a traditional setting prevents you from being successful. With our therapy skills and just a little research, we can be well-prepared to manage our professional life from a new workplace. In order to ensure a smooth transition from a clinical setting to entrepreneurial life, there are several foundational areas that therapists must give their attention to.
Many people who suddenly began working from home due to COVID found themselves putting together last-minute arrangements for their workstation. While this may be a good test of your adaptability and creativity, such accommodations are not sustainable in the long-term. Therapists moving to a home office will need a dedicated workspace, as well as ergonomic equipment such as a desk, office chair, and computer accessories.
As therapists, we recognize the need for user-friendly tools to enhance productivity while protecting our bodies. Some of the following pieces of equipment are great investments to make in your home office space:
- Adjustable office chair with armrests and adequate lumbar support
- Wrist rest and properly adjusted keyboard height
- Ergonomic mouse to fit your hand size
- Foot rest or stool
- Standing desk or monitor stand that is height-adjustable
- Additional monitor and external keyboard if you are working off a laptop
- Storage space to keep the most important work items nearby
Additionally, anyone working from home is best suited in a quiet space (ideally one with a door) to minimize distractions and separate your work and family responsibilities. This is my set up below. It is not perfect but after a few iterations it is coming. Next purchase will be a standing desk, sitting all day has my feeling squirrelly.
There is a saying in the therapy world that the only constant is change itself. Many things about our day can be variable: patient cancellations, changes in treatment location, modifying care plans “on the fly”, and more. However, it is in our best interest to keep our working hours generally the same each day. This will encourage you to develop good organizational skills and provide a good separation between your work, home, and social lives. You can facilitate the formation of this schedule by setting a fixed end time each night (crucial because when your work is at home it’s easy to return back to it after super hours), consistent morning routine, learning how to time block your day, and categorizing your tasks based on priority. Here are a few valuable resources to help you in setting these up:
- Morning routine – Brendon Buchard is favorite motivational speaker of mine and he talks here about a consistent morning routine that includes movement. I am slowly making this a habit and I can attest to its power to wake up the mind and get you ready for a working day.
- Time blocking – There is power in setting the clock for 50 minutes on each priority in your day, staying focus on that task, having a quick break and then refocusing to begin your next task. Try it out, set your timer and see how effective you are when your focused on a single task and not dealing with a monkey brain.
- Gratitude – There is so much science behind gratitude and what it does for you brain. Try it out! You don’t need a journal, you can do this in your head, but I loves this really simple gratitude journal from amazon.
In a similar vein, a semi-structured daily work schedule will help you maintain a clear line between your professional and household duties. Ask anyone who spends time doing work from home and they will likely tell you this can be one of the most difficult, but beneficial aspects of being an entrepreneur. The ability to manage your workload in a way that sustains your business while ensuring time to unwind is not only key to keeping your business afloat, but aiming for its long-term success. Entrepreneurs who have an equal balance between day-to-day tasks and “big picture” projects often maintain a good level of control over business operations. A great way to stay on task while still working on large-scale duties is to establish daily tasks that get you one step closer to your long-term professional and entrepreneurial goals. These may not be big steps, but any progress will keep you on the right path toward success. And if you are like most and find yourself distracted by laundry or a messy kitchen, set aside time in your day and set a short timer to focus on that specific task and then get back to your work task. Alternatively hiring a cleaner has be a great way to treat yourself now that home is also your office, this allows you to get back to the more pressing business matters.
Getting quality work done in a timely manner is a goal all employees strive for. This becomes far more important if you are a business owner and even more crucial for those in the healthcare industry. In order to see your practice thrive, you need to get good at mastering “tricks of the trade” that provide you with the ability to maximize time and energy while still doing what you love. Here are some great tools that will allow you to be as productive as you need to be:
- Time blocking – set your priorities for the day and work in 50 minute chunks, at the end of the 50 minutes stand up and give yourself a movement break, let go of the previous priority and set your intention for the next 50 minutes.
- Getting Things Done (GTD) – focuses on 6 tenets, including current actions, current projects, areas of responsibility, 1-2 year goals, 3-5 year goals, life goals
- Zen to Done (ZTD) – analyzes habits and structures days around 3 priority tasks (MITs or most important tasks)
- DUMB goals – we have all heard of SMART goals, but if you haven’t heard of DUMB this is a must read article
- Don’t Break the Chain – builds consistency and minimizes procrastination by encouraging gradual goal achievement
- Elfin book – paperless note book, helps you take notes and easily upload them with a scan app
While there are some daunting aspects of being an entrepreneur, there are many ways you can set yourself up for success. By enhancing your productivity, creating a structured space to work in, clearly defining the boundaries between your work and home, and forming a daily work schedule, business owners will be poised to ease their transition from clinic to private practice.
Utilizing an all-in-one business tool such as Therabyte also places therapists in the optimal position to manage their responsibilities, save time, and watch their business grow before their eyes. Therabyte helps you handle much of the administrative legwork associated with running a private practice while allowing you to spend time doing what you love: making a difference in the lives of others. Take the first steps and sign up for Therabyte today!
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This blog post was written in collaboration with Brittany Ferri, OTR/L, CPRP. In addition to being a telehealth specialist and health writer, Brittany is the founder of Simplicity of Health, LLC where she provides health education and a range of other services for individuals of all ages.