Whether you’re on the front end of starting a private practice or you’re managing a busy caseload, your schedule is a make or break situation. It’s not what you think; your schedule is a make or break for your longevity and happiness, not whether or not clients will come. Clients who really want to see you will make things work.
A part of what we do in the very first meeting of the Abundance Practice-Building Group is talk about what each person wants their schedule to look like. I’m a proponent of setting your ideal hours early. Most people I work with come in thinking they need to “pay their dues” with evening and weekend hours first. Most of them have been “paying their dues” at soul-sucking agency jobs for a while now. There’s a mindset shift that often needs to happen and it’s this: your job is not to start from ground zero anymore and build up some weird seniority in your own business. You’re the boss! When do you want to work? Now how can you get your name out there enough that people will make whatever work in order to work with you?
But I digress, I go into depth about this here. What many of you want to know is “how do I fit all the marketing stuff in, too? I’m gonna show a few options, including pretty schedule pictures in the links. We’ve had some technical difficulties with the clarity of the photos in WordPress, so click the link below each header for sample schedule.
The High Hours, Few Days Approach
This doesn’t work for everyone. It’s vital that you know your limits. When I was in my first full time practice it was no problem to see 8 clients in a day. After all, I’d been working full time plus a private practice for so long my endurance was built up. There’s no way I’d make intelligible sentences by the end of the day if I tried that today.
When you’re full with this method, this is what it could look like. Until you’re full, fill in non-occupied slots with equal parts marketing and self-care (real self care, not scrolling through stuff on your phone).
I Want to Work Some Evenings and Spread it Out Some. With Friday’s Off!
Again, you only have to work evenings if you WANT to work evenings. If you do dig evenings, awesome, here’s a sample full schedule. Until you’re full, fill in non-occupied slots with equal parts marketing and self-care.
Building with a Full Time Job
My heart goes out to you. It’s hard work. I did it for 5 long years (in the beginning because I liked my job, in the end, because I knew we were moving away and it didn’t make sense to go whole hog when we were on our way out). Make sure you do your math to see how many private practice clients you need to replace your salary. We talk about it a lot in this 3-part podcast and there’s a downloadable worksheet to help you with math. 12 seems to be the magic-ish number for when people can ditch the job, so that’s what I included here. Please, do your own math… your fee and your current paycheck make this vary greatly. And honestly, just looking at this schedule makes me tired. I hope if you’re in this phase, it’s short-lived.
I hope that provides some helpful structure without feeling like some kind of dictate. There are a million ways to do it and the only way to really know what’s right for you is to try what you think will be right and tweak from there. If you start from what you think you have to do to get clients, it’s going to be a lot more work to get your schedule where you want it.
One last thing, I’ve had Friday’s and the weekends off for years now and I’ve noticed ebbs and flows with honoring it as time off. Once things were really rolling in my practice, it was easy to relax and have fun on my day(s) off. If you’re in start-up mode, notice how it feels to be working then and if it’s healthy for you. For some of you it’ll be fine. For others, it’ll feel like a never ending treadmill of tasks. Listen to yourself and your body.
What schedule do you want to work? Let us know in the comments.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group, and get help from Allison and a small group of new, close friends in Abundance Practice-Building Group. Allison is all about helping you gaining the confidence and tools you need to succeed.