What is the first step to freeing up time? How do you start making the small change? Why should you create an infrastructure that is independent of you in your practice?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Dr. Judy Whitfield about good time management principles. They discuss the merits of hiring an assistant, and how to clear things off your plate so that you can focus on the essentials.
Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision
We made it another year and now it’s time to jumpstart your practice and gear up for a successful 2022. What are the first steps to bringing in more of your ideal clients? Having a great website and marketing your private practice online.
Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution.
And, during the entire month of January, they’re running their biggest sale of the year!
For the entire month of January, they’re completely waiving all setup fees and only charging $39/month for your entire first year of a new website – that’s a savings of $240 for your first year of website service with Brighter Vision.
All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal.
Meet Dr. Judy Whitfield
Dr. Judy Whitfield is a board-certified school neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist, specializing in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD and learning disabilities. Dr. Whitfield is passionate about helping children realize their fullest potential and understands the tension between parent and child.
Dr. Whitfield knows that parents want to do the best for their child, but are oftentimes tired and frustrated, or don’t know what else to do. Equally, children want to do well in school, please their parents and teachers and feel good about themselves. Dr. Whitfield helps things work better for everyone. Children learn to work more efficiently, not harder. Parents learn strategies to help their child at home, support their emotional health, and effectively advocate for their child at school.
In This Podcast
- Infrastructure in your practice
- Freeing up space
- Judy’s advice to private practitioners
Infrastructure in your practice
It is important to create systems in your practice that are independent of you as much as possible. That way they can function without you needing to micromanage everything.
Especially if there is someone who is a stay-at-home mom to really have them outline what they can do … maybe they have two days a month that they do a number of hours back to back. (Joe Sanok)
This is the first step in expanding your practice because it frees up some of your time to focus on how you can develop your business further.
If you do not want to hire someone full-time, consider hiring one or two part-time employees who can take on a bulk of work for a few hours a month to give you space to think about the business.
Freeing up space
- Start by listing all the tasks that you want off your plate
- Make a list of things you enjoy doing but you know is not the best use of your time
- Hire someone – even a virtual assistant – to complete tasks for you
What I have found out when you are hiring your own [virtual assistant] is to hire someone who is highly trainable and start with the one thing you really need which could be answering phones, scheduling intakes … set that process up, see how they do with that learning, and have them create the system. (Joe Sanok)
Explain to them what the outcome is that you want and then let them create the system.
That allows them to be autonomous and have agency in their work while finding the best shortcuts so that you can focus on running the other aspects of the business.
Judy’s advice to private practitioners
When you lose faith, you should borrow it from someone you know, respect, and admire.
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Check out brightervision.com/joe for just $39/month on your entire first year of a new website
- Visit Dr. Whitfield’s website, and connect with her on Facebook
- Email her at: [email protected]
Check out these additional resources:
- Your Four Step Blueprint for Having a Successful Practice with Zoe Thompson | PoP 659
- Apply to work together
- Next Level Practice – next cohort opens in March 2022
- Sign up for Next Level Practice — Cohort Open!
- Events – click on the event’s dropdown
- Sign up to join the free webinars and events here
- Podcast Launch School
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Free resources to help you start, grow, and scale
- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 660.
Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and I hope your day is going amazing. Hopefully your new year is kicking off delightfully. I’m sure you have your goals or your changes or your shifts but don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s just another date in the calendar also. So small steady progress over this big January, we’re going to set these goals and then just break them in February. But it’s also motivating to think about how you want 2022 to be for you. Or if you listen in the future, how 2023 or 2024 will be for you. So today I’m really excited. We have Dr. Judy Whitfield, who’s a board certified school neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist licensed in Washington and Florida. She specializes in assessment diagnosis, treatment of ADHD and learning disabilities. Judy, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Hey Joe, super exciting.
Well you listened to quite a few episodes of the Practice of the Practice podcast, and somehow that was disclosed to Jessica Tappana from Simplified SEO. Then she emailed me, “Oh my gosh, this lady’s listened to all these podcasts.” So I reached out to you to do some live consulting and hang out with you. Tell me how you discovered the Practice of the Practice podcast and how many did you listen to.
Well, I actually first found you when you had a magazine. Do you remember that?
And a physical paper magazine.
Yes, we mailed that out probably to 3000 people.
Okay, well, one of those folks got your magazine. It was in a waiting room and friend of mine was there and then she got it and then she gave it to me. This was back in tech years, probably 20 years ago, but maybe just a handful of years ago. So I kind of had this on the back burner for a long time. I tried to get to Killin’It Camp multiple times, but I was a school district person and October was just not good to get away. Then COVID came and I said, yay, great opportunity. I’ll go. So I went to Killin’It Camp this year virtually and I was at my family’s house in Pennsylvania.
I live in Florida right now. I drove up, did Killin’It Camp from my sister’s bedroom during her October fest. So I was eating vinashetso and consulting with you all. Then I drove back and when I drove back, I just put on the podcast for, I was in for 20 hours, I think, me and the dog listening to Joe. So yes, I guess Jessica found out that I did that. I just binged Practice of the Practice all the way to Florida.
Wow. So in doing that, what were some takeaways that you had that maybe you implemented right away?
Well first is that I need to take notes when I listen to things because those 20 hours, I couldn’t do it. I tried to have the dog do it, but he wouldn’t scribe for me. So I came back home and I went through the show notes and wrote myself some notes. Thank you for that. I love the show notes. I really rely on those. It allows me to listen more fully than to be worrying about what I’m writing down.
Sam and the team do such a great job with that.
They do. They do. I think most of what I found was that you have to make the space in your life to make things happen and definitely 20 hours in the car was the space to make this happen. So I could actually sit down and listen and be fully listening, not multitasking in my head, thinking about dinner and the laundry and half listening. I was fully listening the whole time. So, and making space for me means making the time plus making the quiet spaces. So having the quiet and having the time and just being focused really helped me to dial into what I needed to do. I’m treating my time right now as a sabbatical. I’m on a leave of absence from my day gig. And Sabbatical was a word that a friend of mine used to help me deal with not feeling like I’m not working, oh, you’re not working. Oh, you’re just staying at home eating bond bonds, or no, I’m on a sabbatical, which is actually work.
So this is the year for me to do my dream to have what I want. That trip from Pennsylvania down to Florida was the kickoff. I think Killin’It Camp was like the precursor and then that trip. Listening to all those podcasts really helped kind of propel me forward. My return on investment from going to virtual Killin’It Camp, I saved a bunch on travel and I calculated that and magically, it was the same price as joining Next Level Practice. So I used that savings to turn it around and join NLP.
Oh, wow. So many like quick decisions to invest in your future. That’s so awesome. Well, part of why I wanted to connect with you is to just give you some free consulting and to record that as someone that put all that time into listening and that’s kind of kicking things off and then joining the Next Level Practice. So what questions do you have right now that we can cover that might help you keep this momentum going?
Oh I think like a lot of us just, there’s so many things that I want to do and I want to do all of them and right now, and not getting caught up in just a shiny thing. Like I just mentioned return on investment, I am running this business solo right now, and I’m very mindful of where I put my time, money and energy. I want that to multiply in a way that keeps me motivated. When I work with kids, I talk about the zone approximal development. I don’t call it that to them, but it’s like the Goldilocks story, you know this bit is too hard. This is too soft. This is just right. I need the just right zone where I feel challenged enough to be interested and not so challenged that I’m defeated and unmotivated. I think I apply that to a return on investment where I feel like I made a good choice and it’s going to help me. I’m not breaking the bank and I’m not going kind of light and then not seeing the return.
Well, tell me, give me a summary of kind of where you’re at with the practice in regards to just the basics, getting set up versus like where are you at in regards to your overall infrastructure?
Okay. Well it’s just me; I’m from a town outside of Seattle, Washington across the Puget town called Poulsbo. It’s spelled incorrectly P-O-U-L-S-B-O in a Norwegian way, I guess. There’s only 10,000 people there, but we have multiple counties that kids aren’t getting what they need. So there’s a huge need for what I do. The phone is ringing a lot. I’m kind of drinking out of a fire hose right now and to top it off, I’m currently living in Florida with my husband, who’s on a deployment.
So I’m a military spouse and I have been looking for the blessings and lots of things, especially since COVID and one is that I’m able, I’m able to come here and be with him. Florida granted me licensure as a spouse. They just called Washington said, “Hey, she’s good. Okay, handshake.” It was brilliant. I’ve never had anything that easy with licensure. So now I’m licensed in two states. So that’s an opportunity rather than kind of saying, oh honey, I don’t want to follow you again. So now I’ve got another opportunity, but I have one foot in Washington and one foot here. And I recently lost my office space back home, which again, deep breath, it’s okay. It’s a blessing. The woman who took my office, bought everything, all my furniture and I didn’t have to pay a mover.
So I just packed up my things and my files and rolled on out of there. I didn’t have any worries. So now kind of, it’s that you’re so free that you can’t make a decision. I’ve got so many opportunities, I don’t know which one to take.
The practice back in Washington, is that one that you’re doing online at this point or is it on pause? Tell me the status of that.
I am doing a hybrid model where I’m a testing psychologist for the most part. I can do a lot of my work online. I do my intake appointments online, virtually with parents and kids together. I do all the data gathering, interviewing. That can all be done virtually. There’s some testing that I really feel that I need to do in person, as we say, eyes on, I need eyes on, the student to see what’s up. There are some measures that you can do online. I own a lot of them. I’m training on a lot of them. Then the tail end I do the diagnosis, the feedback, the paperwork, every thing virtually. I use Simple Practice. So that’s been working as my EHR. The real dilemma I have is the face to face testing. I do some coaching as well, and that can all be done virtually that’s been working well.
So how important is it for you to keep the in-person aspect as part of your practice?
Well, that is one thing that I learned. I don’t remember, don’t ask me which episode it was, but you said when you’re about to hire people hire someone who you refer to all the time that you can’t do yourself. Then number two, hire someone who can act like you, replicate yourself and that’s where I’m at now. I always refer out to speech language pathologists and OTs pretty consistently.
Well, and is the plan to go back to Washington or are you uncertain in regards to what the military is going to do in regards where are you going to go next?
It’s pretty uncertain. So the military life is hurry up and wait. We don’t know. Right now we’re slated to leave in March but then again, we can end up staying, don’t know.
Sure, sure. So really the more that you can have infrastructure outside of yourself, physically the better. So I would say, especially if there’s someone who’s a stay-at-home mom to really have them outline what they can do and then if it can be that you do all the online and then they do this, maybe they have two days a month that they do a number of hours, just back to back, that they can just get a sitter for the whole day to really kind of have some creative flexibility with that person and to let them set the limits I’d rather you have three or four people that are doing 10 hours a month and they’re all stars and just doing a great job than to burn people out and then lose them and have to retrain. So I think you’re thinking correctly in that area. Then when you’re looking at your website, are you doing multi-state like SEO and are you branding yourself as a Florida clinician? Or do you even want to, because you may be moving again? Tell me where you’re at with that.
I don’t know. That’s been on a, not a back burner, kind of like off to the side a little bit until we know if we’re staying here. I do have licensure permanent, full-time licensure for two years in Florida. So even if I do go back, I can still keep that and I can, of course keep going after those two years. So they don’t take it away when I move.
Sure. Okay. Then from a family needs standpoint are you making enough for what your family needs? You don’t have to give the actual numbers, but are you like fine with what you’re making? Do you feel we’re just fine or do you feel like I want to grow more? Where are you at from a family needs stand endpoint?
Well, we’re okay. Like a lot of our colleagues, I’m sure we’re kind of keeping away with student loans. But we are okay. I actually did better the first three months this year than I did before my entire year as a school psychologist. So that’s helpful. That’s motivating to know that I can do it. I can do it, people want me, I have a lot more expertise than I sometimes give myself credit for. It’s possible and hanging around, as I say, my tribe, my Next Level Practice and Practice of the Practice people. They were all cheering for me and me for them. So I’ve been looking in the wrong places for support. Now I know where my people are.
Yes, totally. It’s so great to be around people. Like I remember at the first Killin’It Camp in 2019, how I asked this one question. So I was doing this activity where I had people physically go from one side of the room to the other, on a spectrum of your comfort zone, your growth zone and your panic zone. I threw out things like skydiving or eating sushi and then I said, making more money than your peers, thinking a lot of people that would be like their growth zone. Almost everyone went to their comfort zone. I was like, these are my people. We don’t have the money issues that a lot of folks have.
So if the phone is ringing off the hook and you’re kind of adding clinicians to fill in, or you’re at least starting that process, what’s stopping you from just exploding at this point? Is it that you don’t want to explode? Is it that you don’t feel like you have the systems or the knowledge? What’s stopping from you tripling revenue this year?
Well, I know the things. I know the things I need. I need a, well, I won’t say a unicorn, but I need my special person. I need some who can do a little of this and that. I don’t really want to hire multiple people for just a handful of hours. I used to do that kind of work, and it’s not likely that people stick around when they only work five hours here and there. They’re also probably spreading their time between you and multiple other people, so I need someone that can, for example, fix my paperwork. It’s 90%. But there’s a couple things that need to be fixed. I need someone to help with the website, switch some language around, do some PDFs for me, maybe answer the phone or reply to email inquiries, that kind of thing. So a smattering of skills, and I don’t know where that person is.
I would say, see, the thing about finding a unicorn is everyone else wants that unicorn also. So some of the things that you’re talking about are there’s businesses that you can just outsource editing to, or that you can outsource just the phones to or you can hire a designer to do. So I would start with listing out all the tasks that you just want off of your plate and then make also a list of the things that maybe you enjoy doing, but you know is not the highest use of your time. So oftentimes, especially when you’re more of a solopreneur, you wear multiple hats, like you’re growing and have the leads, like you said, with the fire hose analogy, if every hour that you’re spending on something that’s other than billable hours is sort of you wasting your own and so it’s like, you’re the highest priced person doing design in the world for, if you could be doing an extra hour of testing.
So that could be outsourcing to Practice of the Practice. We have a whole team that can support you. Or it could be all sorts of other groups that are out there or finding your own person. I have found though, when you hire your own VA is to find someone that’s highly trainable and just start with the one thing that you really need, so it might be answering phones, scheduling intakes, getting them their onboarding intake paperwork. So setting that process up, seeing how they do with that learning and have them create the system.
So here’s the outcome I want. I want people to be scheduled within 48 hours. I want to have them get the intake paperwork. I want to have these types of measures sent to them ahead of time. You create that process for me and then you get to see how well that they come up with processes when you just give them the outcome. Because then you can replicate that and say, okay, now I want you to do some editing. They’re like, I’m really bad at writing. Okay, well then I want you to do some research for me and find a company that can do the editing.
Or I want you to be the point person where I can just hand off a report to, you then coordinate with that company, I pay it obviously, but then you’re that point person. So then they may not be doing all of the work, but they’re at least the point person for it. They’re the one that catches kind of all the different contracts and this person needs to be paid. The two of you can have a 15-minute meeting where you just tear through it each week and say, okay this company needs to get paid or all these different things so that it’s all off of your, and also off of your mental energy.
Does that make sense?
It does. I have a list of, as my grandma would call them do-dads, little things that I want to investigate. And I don’t need to with what you just said, because I don’t need to look at Trello and Asana and all these productivity apps and hacks and websites and the cost of each because if I hire a VA, they may already know one of them and I don’t even need to know, to put all that time in.
Well, and then if they create the system, then if they need to hire a second or third person, you’re not then training those next people. So it takes Sam, who does all of our podcast producing for 17 podcasts, she created the whole Trello board. She created the template. She taught me how it was best for me to communicate with her about the podcast. So if she’s created it, then she can say, here’s why we do this. We’re not just doing it because Joe said to do it this way. We’re doing it because I created this and it’s the most streamlined. Then if it needs to change, it will. Which is the kind of person you want. You want that agility for however you grow and expand.
We made it another year and now it’s time to jumpstart your practice and gear up for a successful 2022. What are the first steps to bringing in more of your ideal clients? Having a great website and marketing your private practice online. Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh or your fresh out of school, creating your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. During the month of January, they’re running their biggest sale of the year. For the entire month of January, they’re completely waving all setup fees and only charging $39 a month for your entire first year of a new website. That’s a savings of $240 for your first year of website service with Brighter Vision. All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe, to learn more and take advantage of this great deal. That’s brightervision.com/joe.
So Judy, when you hear all this, what are your first action items you’re going to take to make it so that you can grow even faster in 2022?
Well, I did, I do have a consultation phone call later today with a virtual assistant company, a 15, 30 minute what do you need kind of talk. So there’s that. I don’t know if there are any others. We’ll see how that goes today. Then I’ve learned a lot about, I’m an ADHD coach, so procrastination is this big terrible thing that we throw around. Actually for me, everyone does it. It’s not specific to ADHD and it’s a learning tool. So why do you procrastinate is the question, not feeling bad that you do it, but why are you avoiding things? What are the things you don’t want to do? Why would I rather do laundry and dishes? Are you kidding me?
What is that thing I’m avoiding? Because that’s the thing I’m going to hand off to the virtual system. So I’m thinking that at least for the next week to two weeks, I’m going to sit down in the morning and think about what did I avoid or maybe in the evening, what did I avoid that day? Why did I, I would rather take the dog for his 15th walk and sort sucks then to do that thing, and that will go on the VA list.
Right. It may be that you have a copywriter that helps with some blog posts and then you have someone else that helps with other things. There really are so many different services out there that aren’t very expensive, especially compared to what our hourly rates are. To just say, I want to have two blog posts written a month that are on these particular keywords. That person is 95% of the way there and you scan through it and then you spend 15 minutes scanning through a blog post instead of two hours writing it.
Yes. I think that the next step I is for me to dial in the budget. I just started reading Profit First and listening to some of those podcasts. The nature of my practice is very much like I’ll have a month or two that’s huge and then a month or two, that’s really tiny and huge again. It’s not a consistent income. It’s based on assessment. If I’ve got 10 assessments, that’s a big month and then I spend a month or two meetings, scoring, writing reports and then there’s not income. So I have to find a way to kind of balance those out over the course of the year.
Yes, and I think that kind of depends on personality and what your family needs are too. Some families are like, it’s fine if we have those bubbles every couple months. Other families are, hey, I’d rather we get the same amount every month and then the business bank account kind of grows and shrinks, but the family account never sees that. So it may be that you give yourself 30% of what comes in each month so that it ends up being just a consistent amount instead of kind of big balloons. So I think that ends up being more of a personality thing and the way that people spend within their families as to what they need. So well, Judy, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast. The last question that I always ask is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
Wow, well, I heard a long time ago from a mentor of mine that when you lose faith, you should borrow it from someone. Then I added onto that, you should borrow it from someone and respect and admire. So that’s what I’ve been doing just by listening to that 20 hours of podcasting and also Killin’It Camp and Next Level Practice. That’s what that’s been to me because sometimes you just don’t think you got it. You don’t have the sparkle or whatever and you’ve got a lot of people that are telling you, yes, it’s possible. You can do it.
There are people that are on this path ahead of you. Not that far ahead of you, even, maybe just a year ahead of you and they’re doing it. I know you always say on your podcast, your lawyer tells you not to expect results. You don’t guarantee that, but I’ve heard so many hours of it, of multiple guests saying that they’ve done, it it’s possible, and that they felt the same way that I am feeling right now. So you just look at those people and you keep them close and you admire them and you listen to as much as one of their advice as you can. And maybe one day I’ll be that person to someone behind me.
Well, I mean, we’ll have to check in in a bit and see where you’re at to hold you accountable and look at that growth. Well, Judy, if people want to connect with you, if they want to follow your journey, if they want to kind of look at your practice, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
Well, my website is academictherapist.com. It’s all one word, no caps, academictherapist.com. My email is drjudywhitfield, [email protected].
Awesome. Well, Judy, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
So go take some action, go listen to podcasts, get involved in communities like Next Level Practice, or come to events like Killin’It Camp. When you’re surrounded by people that are going where you want to go, that have maybe already done what you want to do, it’s so much easier because you’re just picking people’s brains and they’re saying, oh, this is what I did. It’s amazing to see just the growth of people that are in community in some form. It’s one thing to be in just some free Facebook group where you’re getting a lot of opinions. It’s a good way. That’s a good way to get information. But if you want implementation I can’t suggest joining a group higher than I guess suggesting it. That’s a really weird way of saying what I just said. I am not going to edit that out because that’s just who I am. I leave in the mis-steps as well.
So we have a bunch of amazing podcasts coming up in 2022. We’ve got some great sponsors, some new sponsors, but this week we’ve got Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision is the website solution for you. They always offer their biggest sale of the year in January. So make sure you check that out over at brightervision.com/joe. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.
Also thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.