4 Concepts to Simplifying Your Workload

By Maureen Werrbach, LCPC on February 10, 2021
Illustrated books, paperwork, and notes spilling over an open laptop

When was the last time you were able to step away from your group practice with the confidence that everything would continue operating efficiently? For many of us group practice owners, it can be hard to feel prepared enough to even take a break. Rather than to get burned out by putting everything solely on your shoulders, let's discuss some steps needed in building the foundation toward a more simple, self-sustaining practice. These are the concepts that will help in this process: elimination, simplification, automation, and delegation.

To start, here’s a quote I really love from entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss: “Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined.”

If you automate something that could be eliminated or delegate something that could be automated, what you’re really doing is wasting someone else’s time instead of your own. Not only are you wasting their time, but you’re also paying them for it! How's that for incentive to be effective and efficient? Another important piece of this is to remember that everything can be adjusted. It’s valuable to not get too set in your ways when you first get set up, because there are times when that can make it harder to grow and scale. You don’t need to have anything set in stone foreverkeep re-evaluating as you grow and your needs change.

Four Simple Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Trying to Prepare for Time Away

Does this task need to be done?

First offthe basic question—does this task really need to be done? To get an idea of the tasks that take up your time, write down all the tasks that you do in a work day and ask your administrative staff or leadership staff to do the same. What tasks are taking up your time besides seeing clients? Are you answering emails, going to meetings, or buying supplies for the office? Write some down and then ask yourself, does this task need to be done? Does it help me get to where I need to go, or help get my business where it needs to go? If the answer is no, then it's an easy elimination. If it’s yes, then move ahead to see if that task can be simplified, automated, or delegated.

Can this task be simplified?

Next up is simplification. If you’ve determined that the task needs to be done, ask yourself: Can this task be simplified? If you’re not sure, ask some follow up questions, such as:

  • Is there a workflow written out so that others can repeat your steps? 
  • Are there a bunch of confusing steps?  
  • Are the instructions or workflows hard to follow? 

Try to find a way to reduce the time involved, or combine the steps to make it simpler so that it can be done more quickly. If the task can be simplified, then simplify it and free up some of your time. If the answer is no, keep going. 

Can this task be automated? 

When you hear the word automation, you might worry that automating will take away the human touch of your business. However, that’s not the idea! You don't want to automate your whole business so that clients feel like they're never talking to a human—but there are many parts of this business that we can actually automate. If the answer is no, this task cannot be automated, ask yourself the following question.

Can I delegate this task?

If you’ve gone through the first three questions with a task and it’s still on your plate, the next step is to delegate. Is this something you can hand off to someone else so that it's not required of you when you actually want to take time off? Every task should be able to be delegated. If there's ever a point where you feel like you’re the only person who can do something in your practice, you're saying that there's a big piece of the business that can rise and fall with you. You don't want any piece of your business to be so reliant on one person that if that person gets sick or leaves, the health of your business is at stake. 

If delegating makes you feel uncomfortable or if there’s a particular task that you feel like you can’t delegate, make sure to examine why. What about delegating that particular task makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe? It can be hard to start handing things off, especially if something has always been your responsibility since starting your practice. There are a lot of growing pains to work through as a leader and if you notice this resistance to delegating, you’re definitely not alone. Just keep in mind that this is something to work on as a leader. It can bring up feelings that you’re not important to the group practice or that your role doesn’t make a difference. Know that you are important to your practice. I went through those feelings as well as I did less and less in my group practice.

These are questions that you can ask yourself on a regular basis, so you’re not only streamlining your business, but are also prepared to take time off when you want or need to without having to deal with a million “emergency” calls from your staff. The way I prepare for taking extended time off builds on these concepts, so it’s important to have the foundation in place before you take yourself out of the mix. 

Keep in mind that things might not go perfectly at first and that’s okay! If there’s a hiccup, your business won’t fail from one mishap or by missing one day. Every time I take time off in my practice, we learn where we need to tighten up processes or communicate more effectively. Even if you looked at eliminating, simplifying, automating, and delegating and did your best to be prepared, there are going to be things that come up because your business is a living, breathing thing. You can’t always predict how things are going to go, and you’ll probably have to make adjustments as you grow even further. With some trial and error, you can optimize your practice so you can step away with trust in your processes and staff.

* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.


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