Do you find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time? Are you struggling with completing tasks and admin? Do you need deep focus to help you develop and launch a new idea?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens and Uriah Guilford discuss some tips for boosting your focus.
Podcast Sponsor: Heard
Tax season got you feeling anxious? You’re not alone. That’s why therapists turn to Heard.
Built and designed specifically for clinicians in private practice, Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting, and tax assistance to ensure you’re making the most of your business and your time.
Heard saves therapists an average of 5,397 dollars on bookkeeping and taxes each year.
When you join Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online, and grow your practice.
You can say goodbye to guessing your tax deductions and stressing out over quarterly tax payments. Focus on your clients, while Heard takes care of the rest.
Plans begin at $149 per month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs.
Sign up now at www.joinheard.com.
Meet Uriah Guilford
Uriah Guilford, LMFT, is the owner of Guilford Family Counseling and the mastermind behind Productive Therapist, a business that provides world-class virtual assistants to therapy practice owners. He is a technology enthusiast, productivity nerd, and a pretty rad drummer.
Uriah is always searching for creative ways to provide counseling to youth and families as well as help therapists to get more done while working less.
See also: The Productive Therapist Focus Club – an accountability and support group for therapists.
In This Podcast
- Eliminate distractions
- Set up your physical workspace accordingly
- Work with single tasks
- Get an accountability partner
- Uriah’s advice to Christian counselors
When you are focusing on doing something, eliminate the distractions in your environment:
- Put your phone on silent or in the other room
- Place yourself in a quiet and secluded space
- Avoid multitasking when you are working on one thing
For some people [the biggest distraction] is email, so you need to close down your email. When you are getting focused work done, you need to close the thing so that you can’t see it. (Uriah Guilford)
Set up your physical workspace accordingly
Layout your work area in a way that suits you and your needs.
It does not have to be neat unless tidiness distracts you, for example.
What does your ideal space look like?
- Having a glass of water or a bottle of water to drink
- A candle to set the environment
- Clean or relatively tidy space
- A notepad to keep track of progress so that you do not have to break the concentration
Try using a dedicated environment to get work done. Spend a night or two at a hotel, work in a coffee shop or library to supercharge your productivity in this new place.
I recommend putting that on your calendar and planning that [work time] ahead, whether that’s once per quarter, or twice a year. (Uriah Guilford)
Work with single tasks
Avoid multitasking. No one can really do multiple things at once at a high level.
Rather, focus and commit to doing one thing at a time.
Focus on replying to emails for 20 minutes, then get admin done for another 20 minutes, and then work on a project for 20 minutes instead of trying to do everything in bits and pieces at the same time.
Use the Pomodoro technique: work for 20 minutes and then take a five-minute break.
There’s a limit on how long you can [genuinely] pay attention to anything … for most of us, it’s probably about 20 or 30 minutes. (Uriah Guilford)
Get an accountability partner
It is great if you have got goals and dreams to achieve for this year but you need accountability. Otherwise, you may not get things done.
Find an accountability partner or join a Mastermind group to work alongside people who share your goals.
You can motivate one another, learn from each other, and commit to trying difficult things together, making it easier.
Uriah’s advice to Christian counselors
You have to prioritize your goals and what you need as well as the needs of your clients.
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting, and tax assistance. Sign up now at www.joinheard.com.
- Enroll in Uriah’s 7 Day Email Transformation Course
- Visit the The Productive Therapist website and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.
- Connect with Uriah on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Check out Boomerang for Gmail
- Take the DISC Christian Personality Test and get 50% off when you use promo code FAITHINPRACTICE
- Join the Faith in Practice Conference from April 21st to 24th
- Take Faith in Practice further with the Mastermind Course
- Join the Faith in Practice Facebook Group and subscribe to the email list
- Email Whitney: [email protected]
Check out these additional resources:
- Julie Herres on Using Profit First in Your Practice | FP 131
- Next Level Practice
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Group Practice Boss
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
Thanks For Listening!
If you’re a faith-based counselor, who’s looking for more resources to use with your clients, The Christian DISC is a spiritually integrated personality assessment. The assessment provides four main personality types and integrates insight from scripture and emotional intelligence. The model behind the Christian DISC is ideal for individuals, couples, and groups, and is specifically designed for use in the faith-based counseling, coaching and ministry. If you would like to try out the assessment for yourself, go to christianpersonalitytest.com. Enter the promo code FAITHINPRACTICE, all caps, all one word, and you will get 50% off this assessment. So you can go to christianpersonalitytest.com and enter the promo code, FAITHINPRACTICE.
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
Hello and welcome back to the Faith in Practice podcast. Looking forward to this episode. Today, I have back with me, my good friend, Uriah Guilford. He’s going to be sharing with us tips to supercharge your focus, because I totally need that in my life. I’m looking forward to getting those tips today. Before I get going here, though, I wanted to talk for a few minutes about Productive Therapist. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s your eyes business. Of course, we’ll talk about it some more and they offer virtual assistant services and a whole lot more. He also does business coaching consulting for practice owners.
At the end of the episode, we’ll talk in detail about the Focus Club. Focus Club is a group that Uriah leads that opens up several times a year to really help you focus in on the things that are important in your practice, doing group coaching calls, work sessions, a private community for you to focus in. The thing I love about Productive Therapist that I find to be different than a lot of the other consulting is just really specific tips. I feel like every time I talk to Uriah, when we’re doing a group meeting, it’s like, oh, here’s this tip to make your practice run more smoothly. I’m like, wow. So I know that if you enter into Focus Club, you’re going to get all that and a whole lot more. We’ll talk more details as we get going here in the podcast, but wanted to let you know about that.
Let me just remind you about Uriah. We did, I don’t know, it’s like a year ago, I guess that I had him on the show. But I want to remind you about who he is. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a group practice owner, and the creator of Productive Therapist, a virtual assistant company that serves practice owners. He also is a tech nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business develop enthusiast. Thanks for coming on the show.
Absolutely. Happy to be here. I like that bio, I wonder who wrote that?
Yes, you did. What’s funny is last time I had you on this show, we didn’t really know each other.
I thought you were cool. So I was like, please come on my show. Now I know you really well so when I was just reading that I was like, oh, minimalist packer. Yes. He had that really cool bag? Then you gave me the really cool queasy when we were on that trip, you saw that I loved queasy and you got this. I wish I could like show it right now. It’s like a little hat and you open it, yes, you a minimalist packer.
I love stuff like that. I really do. They tie together sort of the digital organization and productivity and then like in the physical space too.
Yes, dude, you like live it, you live it.
I do. I do. I love it. So this is one of my favorite topics to talk about, and we’ll hopefully not go for three hours, but talking about yes, focus and getting things done and accomplishing your goals and creating the life that you love. I mean, our tagline at Productive Therapist is helping therapists get more done so they can have more fun. That’s what it’s about because we love our work and we love serving our clients and building the businesses and the practices that we have but hopefully not at the expense of creating a life that’s amazing and checks all the boxes.
Definitely. Just to like reemphasize, you’ve got Productive Therapists. How many employees do you have there?
We have 16 VAs right now.
All right. Then you’ve also got your private practice, the group practice. How many do you have there?
We have nine therapists, not including myself.
Yes, and so you have got to really learn productivity and focus to be able to like manage two businesses. You have a family. I feel like you’re always telling me about cool stuff you’re doing too. So obviously you don’t have it all figured out, but you’ve figured a lot out. So I’d love to like hit these ways that you’re also super charging your focus.
Definitely. People sometimes ask me, like, how do you do all the things you do? I don’t, sometimes I’m surprised by that question because I don’t think that I’m particularly amazing or anything like that. But I have figured out things over the years that work for me, routines, systems, habits, all those types of things that I love sharing and it really helps me get a lot done but also not allow work to consume my life. Love to talk about some practical tips and I always like to talk about that can you actually do now or today? How can you apply this? Because the theory is good, but the principles and then the actual strategies I think is a good combination. Actually, can I ask you a question? I know this is your podcast, but —
What, and I’ll answer this question too, but what are your challenges when it comes to focus?
I think when I have too much time, I definitely, now I’m already talking Enneagram, gosh, Enneagram ones, and I think a lot of people are like this, we have a really hard time with letting things sit. We feel like we need to do it ASAP. So my email definitely consumes me. Like I’ll have something on my task and I tell people I consult with all the time, put something on your calendar, don’t get stuck by something else to do the very thing you need to do. Oh man, I never do that. Like I get right on my email and like, don’t stay true to the very thing I put on my calendar. So I would say those are some of the biggest distractions for me. I also get distracted when I’m working from home, which has happened a lot lately. I’m at home actually now today, but I have found that if I go to the office, there’s something about the separation that I feel like maybe I focus a little bit better than when I’m at home thinking about all the home things.
Definitely. For me it’s like email and my task list. So sometimes if I look at, it’s funny enough, if I look at my task list that will get me off track because it tells me all the things I need to do not just the most important things. So email’s the worst. So that honestly is my first tip, is like eliminate the biggest distractors that you encounter. For some people it’s going to be Facebook or Instagram, which just gets you immediately on another path. For some people it’s email. So like you need to close down your email when you are getting focused work done, you need to actually close the thing so you can’t see it. I use a tool called Boomerang for Gmail that allows me to pause my inbox so I can leave it open, but nothing’s coming. That’s a handy little tool that I use.
So yes, eliminate those biggest distractions. If it is working from home you need a private space, you need a place where you’re not bothered. My home office is actually in a place called, I’ll jus say it’s a place in my house that people walk through also dogs and cats and. There may or may not be a microwave in there. So that’s not the most ideal place today. I’m in my former counseling office. I say former because I’m a retired therapist, but this is a therapy office. So nobody’s knocking on that door because it says in session. I get stuff done here really, really well. So yes, that’s tip number one, eliminate the biggest distractors. If you sit down and think about it, you know what they are or ask your friend or your spouse or your partner.
That’s number one. Number two is set up your physical workspace accordingly. I know some people have various levels of organization and togetherness. It doesn’t honestly matter what it looks like if it works for you. I was talking about this the other day to my Focus Club members about organization that you don’t have to have a perfectly clean desk and like no files anywhere or no mess, but whatever works for you is important for me. Like I do go for the clean surfaces minimalist sort of look that helps me not think about, oh, I should probably clean that. I should probably put that away, those things, so the ideal space. What is it for you?
Well, I have to have water all the time. People make fun of me because I drink so much of water. Then when I’m here at home, actually this is adding something, but I feel like it gives me clarity as a candle. I light candle to bring me, there’s something about the aroma of it. I feel more at peace and I’m slowing down, which actually helps me do more focus work instead of feeling the busyness, I got to do this, this, this, and this. It’s like, no, I’m just going to do this one thing and it’s okay.
Slow and steady, that’s amazing. I love it. Set the environment.
Tax season got you feeling anxious? You’re not alone. That’s why therapists turned to Heard. Built and designed specifically for clinicians in private practice, Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting and tax assistance to ensure you’re making the most of your business and your time. Heard saves therapists an average of $5,397 on bookkeeping and taxes each year. When you join Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online and grow your practice. You can say goodbye to guessing your tax deductions and stressing out over quarterly tax payments, focus on your clients while Heard takes care of the rest. Plans begin at $149 per month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up now at www.joinheard.com.
Then you’ve probably heard of this concept and maybe many of your listeners have heard of the idea of Deep Work, which is a book by Cal Newport, very intelligent, interesting person wrote a whole book about how to focus, how to shut out everything else and get really important stuff done in chunks of time that are dedicated to that thing. He basically says that this is, in our current sort of world, in our current society, attention is scattered all over the place in any given day. If you just look at how many advertisements people see, how many times, if you look at your phone, it’ll tell you how many times you picked it up today and how much time you’ve spent on it. So in order to actually get away, you don’t have to go away, but to get to a place where you are not doing anything, but your most important thing for an extended period of time. And you might recommend this to your consulting clients, I do sometimes like a work retreat, something where you actually go away, doesn’t have to be far, work on a project and really get things done. I actually spend two nights in a hotel, 20 minutes from my house.
Oh, I was so jealous of you.
It was really great. All I did, I barely showered, I just popped in and out of of the hot tub and I probably shouldn’t have shared that, but popped in and out of the hot tub and I had zero distractions. I even brought —
Did you get a lot done?
I did. Absolutely
Man, I crave that. I’ve never done it before. Jessica Tappana, our other good friend, boy, she’s crazy about that. Does it all the time, makes such a big impact in her business? What’s funny is that my husband’s currently out of town, he’s a youth pastor, so he’s off skiing, which is actually a lot of work, actually managing all those kids. I said, when you come back, go to a hotel for three days and relax and get some insight. Like he’s just been so busy he can’t think clearly. So yes, I am letting him do that. Maybe he’ll return the favor for me.
I love it. I love it. I recommend putting that on your calendar, planning that ahead, whether it’s once per quarter, twice a year, whatever that might be. I would love at some point to do that, not just 20 minutes for my house, but in Costa Rica or something like that, or maybe Jekyll Island in Georgia.
Shout out. So that is super helpful. The project that you’re working on could be something obviously related to your practice. It could also be a side hustle, whatever you want to call that. Maybe you want to launch a course, maybe you want to, any number of things you might want to do that you can’t really get done in your day to day life, because you’re doing all the things that are not that.
Yep. Maybe you want to write a book
Maybe that, yes, and oh my gosh, the amount of focus that takes is astounding. I thought about it, I might do it. And that, I guess work goes along with the other tip, which is single tasking and probably a lot of therapists know about some of these things, if you study ADHD or those kinds of things, but multitasking is basically a myth. Nobody can do multiple things at once at a high level. So when you’re doing the thing that you’re doing only do that thing. That’s why it’s a good idea. It’s like general productivity tip for things like email to, they call it batching. to set aside a time where you just do email for 20, 30 minutes. You’re not like switching from this to that, to this, to that. So single tasking is good. We do that when we do that with our clients, when we sit down with them for 50 minutes or so and we’re like really good at that of just putting our attention on that person or that couple, or that family for an extended period of time. But then we get of out the counseling session and we’re like doing a million things.
Yes, definitely. That’s something I still love about therapy is honestly, for me, it grounds me, it reminds me of the work I’m doing, but it slows me down and helps me focus better on what’s important.
I just, that actually just occurred to me therapists are amazing at single tasking and focusing because we do, when you’re in session, you shut out every everything else, most of your unrelated thoughts, what you’re thinking about for dinner and all those kind things. That to me, that’s great. So the next one is sort of also related to the last two, but using the Pomodoro technique or something like that. Have you heard of this?
Pomodoro technique. I got to look up the origin of this, but there’s this little tomato timer and they have apps for this as well, but basically the idea, set a timer, remember those kitchen timers that everybody used to have. Maybe some people still have them. You just set that for 20 minutes and you put it down and then, you don’t have to single-task necessarily, but you do focus work for 20 minutes because there’s a limit on how long you can really pay attention to anything. Experts say that no more than 90 minutes, but for most of us it’s probably about 20 or 30. Maybe 45, if you’re real good. So you set that 20 minute timer and then you it goes off, you just stop and you get up and you walk around or you get some water, you get some coffee and you take a five minute break, come back 20 minutes. Then if you put together a series of Pomodoros, they call it. Guess what? You’re going to get a lot done. You’re going to get all your notes done. How about we use that as an example?
That’s exactly right.
Or whatever you need to do, but that’s super powerful and just helps you focus and that’s just like setting constraints around yourself and creating an ideal opportunity and environment to get your stuff done.
As we’re having this conversation, which by the way, those were fantastic tips, I’m also just thinking about this overall idea of who you are as a therapist and how you take care of yourself. Because like, for example, energy, if I am not sleeping well, or if I’m eating bad or whatever, the case may be, my focus drops. So my productivity drops. So yes, people could take these tips and of course it’s going to make a difference, but if you didn’t put yourself to bed at a decent time and you start was watching Netflix too late or eating ice cream too late, you might not feel too great the next morning to be able to be as productive as you need to be. So it’s so important. Even like exercise makes me more productive because it’s when I run that my mind really gets focused and I can really get something done. I’ve actually had moments where I’ll run and as soon as I’m done, I record a podcast, a solo show because I feel zoned in on a topic that I can really focus on and not be all over the place.
That’s so cool. The question I’ve been asking myself, just even this month is what gives me energy. If I make it, if I make good choices about the things that actually contribute to positive energy, then I’m much more on track and focus.
Yes, I like that.
Eating better and doing all the things. I guess sleeping is like really, really key. Most people don’t understand that if you don’t sleep well, good luck. You could do everything that I just told you and you’ll have a train wreck of a day.
Amen. Oh my gosh.
Ask a new mom, ask new parents. So the last thing I just want to mention is get accountability. So if you’ve, it’s great if you’ve got goals and you’ve got plans for 2022, you want to get some stuff done, but if you don’t have accountability you’re likely to get off track and that’s like where Focus Club comes in into play or your mastermind or any number of masterminds run by amazing consultants that support therapists. Or even just get a friend that can be your practice building buddy or whatever you need to make sure that the things you set out to do that are your mission and purpose that you actually get them done.
Well, you’re right. Tell us about Focus Club, what is it all about, what do people experience in there and how does somebody get involved?
Focus Club is something I continue to be excited about because people are actually getting results. So it’s essentially an accountability program, different than a mastermind in some ways. It’s an accountability program that has a private community, twice a month we do work sessions where literally it’s co-working. So we literally get together, everybody states their goals, what their project is and then we turn off the mics, get it done for 45 to 50 minutes and then come back and check in. So it’s like literally accountability on video. People have found that super helpful. I actually look forward to it because I’m like, I need to focus. Then we have a private community where people post their intentions for the week and then they share their wins. So it’s like this program that just creates momentum for your goals for the year. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun.
I love that. So if somebody’s listening right now, this show’s planning to air early April, let’s say they’re thinking about wanting to join or wanting to get more information, how can they do that?
You can go to productivetherapist.com/focus. The program is a closed membership so it only opens four times a year but we’ve aligned our calendars. This episode should link right to that, the opening of focus club. So definitely check it out.
Awesome. Wonderful. Uriah, I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone that comes on the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
Every Christian counselor needs to know that you have to prioritize your goals and what you need as well as the needs of your client. Sometimes us Christians like to, we sacrifice too much. We give too much and I just would want every Christian counselor to know that you are important, your goals, financially, spiritually, personally, emotionally are super important. So make sure you make time for yourself.
Thank you for sharing that. I want to remind everyone that Uriah has a freebie for the audience today. So you can go to the show notes and grab that. It’s a seven-day email transformation course. Uriah, can you give us a sentence or two about that?
All my best tips on managing your email, conquering email overwhelm, and just getting better at that so you can get back to the important stuff.
Awesome. Well, thank you. Thanks for coming on the show as always. I always get some tips from you. So I already wrote some down and need to be making some changes. So I appreciate it.
Thanks for having me.
We want to thank Heard accounting for sponsoring today’s episode. If you would like to begin using their services at $149 a month, you can head on over to joinheard.com.
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