What would you do if you had another hour in the day? Well, now you do. With Upheal taking care of your Progress Notes, you've got more time to work, rest, and play. Here are some of the ways I spend my extra hour. How will you use yours?
1. Give your clients more time
Whisper it quietly, but some therapists are better than others – clients seen by the best therapists achieve outcomes 50% better than those seen by the worst, and drop out at a rate 50% lower. How do the “Super-shrinks” do it? Well, one thing that separates the best from the rest is that they simply spend more time trying to do a good job. They spend longer thinking about their clients, looking up and reading useful resources, and preparing for their sessions. Now, you can do the same. Look closely at Upheal’s analytics from the session that you just had, and think about what they mean. Read that journal article. Or just sit, stare out the window, and actually think about the session that’s coming up next.
2. Work on your skills
It’s not just about doing a better job with your current clients; it’s about improving your skills in general. Top performers in most fields improve by identifying their weaknesses and working on them in a deliberate, focussed way. And we can do the same! Use the time that you would have spent doing notes to look at your cases – perhaps assisted by Upheal’s analytics – and identify where you habitually fall down as a therapist. Then deliberately practice the skills that you need to improve. Maybe you tend to move to problem-solving too fast, and you need to spend more time with your clients’ feelings. Or maybe you need to be more active and make change happen quicker. Either way, you can identify these goals and actually practice doing something new.
3. Work on **your business
If you are in private practice, then you will be familiar with the dilemma of doing the job day-to-day vs developing the business. It is the therapy hours that pay the bills, but it’s all the other stuff that helps you to maintain and develop your business. Maybe you need to update your website. Maybe you’d like to post on social media more. Or maybe you’d like to write a blog. But it’s hard to find the time between the therapy sessions and all those accursed notes. Well, now that the notes aren’t a thing anymore, you’ve got more time for the rest.
4. Have a nap
Turning yourself into a super-shrink with a super-business sounds great, but too many of us are already trying too hard. A 2017 study found that 50-70% of therapists in busy services had symptoms of burnout, and there is evidence that disengaged, burned-out therapists are less able to help their clients. So, maybe it's time for a rest. What, I ask you, could be more restful than unconsciousness? And it's also good for you: research suggests that a daytime nap can help with memory, mood, work performance, cognitive function, stress levels, creativity, blood pressure, alertness, and even night-time sleep. So, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that top performers don't only practice more deliberately than the rest of us, they also nap more! Do the right thing by your clients, and get into bed this afternoon.
5. Be mindful
Mindfulness is everywhere these days, from boardrooms to prisons, and with good reason. It can make all the difference to take a few minutes out from our usual whirl of activity, and just notice what's here and how. Tune into your sensory experience: the sights, the sounds, the sensations. Just notice them, without needing to do anything about what you notice. Perhaps you'll find that your work stresses don't feel quite so compelling. And if you want to take it further, perhaps try some meditation. Get comfortable, close your eyes or lower your gaze, and gently focus your attention on some aspect of what you can feel or hear: your breath, some other bodily sensation, or whatever sounds are going on around you. Just keep noticing, and when you realise that your mind has wandered, come gently back to your chosen object of attention. Keep on going like that, for as long as feels useful.
Children are the experts on play, and much of their play is active – running, jumping, climbing. And yours can be too. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and feel the mood-enhancing benefits. You’ve probably got enough time for a full gym session, should you want one. Or you could do shorter bursts, in between sessions: several studies have shown the effectiveness of very short bursts of exercise, including this one, which found that 3 daily bursts of vigorous activity lasting just 1-2 minutes resulted in major health benefits. Or take it a little bit easier and just go outside for a walk. Walking provides a range of health benefits, and being outdoors has been linked to better respiratory health, sleep, mood, and immune function.
7. Be creative
When children aren't running about, they're often being creative – coming up with stories and characters, drawing a picture, or building a den. How about you? Is there anything that you're working on? Or perhaps something you'd like to start work on, but haven't had the time? It doesn't have to be a great work of art or fiction: maybe you're rearranging the living room, or making a display case for your collection of 1980s Transformers toys. Whatever your project, it can be a way of creating something new in the world, and feeling the satisfaction that comes from immersion in something you care about. It might not pay the bills, but it feels worthwhile to you.
8. Do whatever the hell you want
With our relentless focus on productivity and optimisation, even play can start to feel like work – the strenuous health-enhancing workout; the creative project that starts to push all of our overachieving buttons. So, maybe it's okay to just do whatever you happen to feel like, no matter what anyone else would think of it. Watch some TV. Play with those Transformers. Even (God forbid) scroll mindlessly on social media. It’s your time, and you can do whatever you want with it. And maybe, just maybe, if you take some time off that’s purely for your own enjoyment, you’ll find that you’re that bit more available for your next client, when the session starts.