3 ways time-poor osteopaths can grow their clinic

Osteopathy clinic owners are often too time-poor to grow their clinic. Discover 3 things clinic owners can do to claw back their time and what to do with it.

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About Alan Zaia M.Ost

Osteopath, ethical osteopathy business advice delivered with a British accent. You’ll find me running, at the beach or on a call helping osteopaths create their perfect work-life balance.

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You're not just an osteopath anymore, you're a business owner

You can be business-minded without being business-like

Osteopaths who own a clinic often have a vision of where they want their clinic to go but have no time to act on their vision. Nine times out of ten, osteopathy clinic owners are gridlocked, working too much IN their business rather than ON it.

Many clinic owners started out as associates who get motivated to run their own clinic. However, clinic owners who run the entire clinic themselves all work long hours, solve all issues, take zero holidays, and burn out, eventually.

Learn to be an effective clinic owner so you can have a sustainable business. Doing this will allow the clinic to treat more people and will stop the clinic from crashing to a halt when you’re on holiday.

First, you need to claw back time. Use The Two Day Rule and deep work and fractured time. Then we’ll talk about working ON your business rather than IN your business and what that means for clinic owners.

To grow your clinic, you must first claw back time

Tip #1 - The Two Day Rule

Use this simple rule to get a grip of your time

The Two Day Rule has empowered me to get both little, and big things done without feeling guilty. Nobody has ever achieved any kind of success in any field without implementing some sort of rule or system in their lives. The Two Day Rule is a concept created by Matt D’Avella. He says: Never skip the thing you’re trying to accomplish more than two days in a row.

It’s a compromise. An effective way to make you stay on task while allowing for flexibility to park it to one side for 24 hours.

Have you ever tried to start a new habit and failed?

Our brains are amazing; we osteopaths know that. The problem is that they’re fantastic at thinking but awful at remembering to stick to tasks. Have you ever had a stern conversation with yourself where you’ve decided that you’re going to start a new habit?

“I’ll start this life-changing habit tomorrow!”

You even get excited at the early ‘new year, new me’ concept only to wake up the next morning and decide that it’s not worth it or even forget about it—darn brain.

Without a lot of self-discipline, it's easy to fall back into old habits

If you tell yourself that you’re going to do something within the next 48 hour and you miss the first day, it’s no big deal. However, the small amount of harmless pressure you put on yourself to complete it before the second day is over – is genius.

Using rules to your advantage

It’s easy to confuse rules with chores. Suppose you can get past the adolescent idea of rules being negative and base them on what you value most. In that case, you can utilise them as a powerful motivator and ‘doer’ in your life.

The key here is consistency:

  • You don’t always have to do it at the same time.
  • You don’t always have to do it at the same intensity.
  • You don’t even have to keep it up for 2 days in a row.

Create a few rules for yourself based on your inner values and what you want to achieve in life, then live by those rules. The Two Day Rule has now become one of my life’s rules.

What rules do you live by to help you get things done? Comment at the end of this blog.

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Tip #2 - Maximise deep work and fractured time

How we work is more important than how much we work

Fractured time is a concept by Cal Newport, Associate Professor and best-selling author of Deep Work. Fractured time work is when you work in small bursts. You focus on something for a concise period before quickly moving on to something else. It’s an excellent tool, but it can work for or against you. 

Osteopaths tend to be forced into fractured time. Trying to be everywhere, post on social media, complete CPD, complete patient notes etc. We’re rushing, which leads to the things we do being below our usual standards and, in fact, prevents us from making meaningful progress with more significant tasks.

However, fractured time can build momentum. Completing even one task can rally you up, ready to meet the next one.

Deep work happens when you have a long period of uninterrupted time to put all your energy into one task. Deep work can only be done with zero disruptions. We need uninterrupted chunks of time. Working in nine 20-minutes increments for 3 hours is not the same as working in two sessions of one and a half hours each.

Three questions inspired by Peter F. Drucker can help busy osteopaths carve out the time they need to quiet the mind and get important, complex work done.

What if I didn’t do this thing at all?

Who could do this better than me?

How am I wasting other people’s time?

So, which one is better? Both deep work and fractured time are fantastic tools in their own right. However, if you utilise them together, you’ve got a powerful strategy to get things done.

Because deep work facilitates fractured time work. 

Find a space where you cannot be disrupted so you can get into deep work.
Deep work is best used for tasks that require quality, so it deserves a meaningful amount of time
  • CPD
  • Patient notes
  • Written blogs
  • Planning next months marketing
  • Improvement meetings with associates or principles
  • Learning Google Ads or improving your website
  • Doing your accounts (you should be outsourcing this)
Fractured time work is best used for tasks that require some quality but doesn’t need a lot of time to complete
  • Phone calls
  • Replying to emails
  • Posting on social media (posts and/or stories)
  • Exercise
If you want to take control of your time, you must allocate time to achieve deep work.

A detailed example would be: deep work favours completing tasks like CPD where you have to sit down, listen, reflect, and upload your evidence. While fractured time allows you to finish your day at work, stop, take a moment and say, “Okay, I’ll phone that patient before I drive home.”

You've got some time back; here's what to do with it

Tip #3 - Work on your business, not just in your business

You must be able to look at the bigger picture

If you started your clinic as a one-man band, chances are you do most of these by yourself. You’re working IN the business. Taking all responsibility for several reasons, but it probably boils down to a lack of trusting someone else to do as good a job as you or simply not enough money to pay someone even if you did trust them.

Working IN your business include any of the day-to-day operations, for example:

  • Hands-on treatment
  • Answering emails and phone calls
  • Problem-solving – patient complaints, broken treatment couches, staff absences, electronic issues (booking system or phones down)
  • Training or supervision of a clinic member or processing wages
  • Doing the clinic tax accounts 

Think about this. Whilst you are bookkeeping, cleaning, delivering, or doing jobs you’re not really meant to be doing, you’re not growing or improving your business. What’s the cost of that?

As you begin to grow your clinic, you need to offload some responsibility to focus on where you’re directing your business. Think of it as a film director needing actors just as much as actors need to be directed. You’re working ON your business to ensure long term survivability and sustainability.

Working ON your business examples:

  • Business planning, KPI’s and strategy – determining the overall direction of the clinic
  • Marketing strategy. This can be done alongside the marketing team
  • Mentorship and teaching of associates and staff
  • Review of treatment and product price structures
  • Planning and integration of new services or products
  • Organising the opening of an additional clinic
  • Assuring the business is legally covered 
  • System improvement
  • Monthly review of financial expense reports and budgets. This can be done alongside your accountant or bookkeeper
Osteopathic clinic owners need the time to reflect, learn and improve

When you are busy working in your business, you do not give yourself time for teaching, studying, or even thinking. You (and your business) may stagnate and slip behind if you don’t take the time to read, listen to audiobooks or attend CPD workshops. When you’re a clinic owner, you need the time to reflect, learn and improve to discover what else is new or how something can be done better.

Quit being a firefighter; it's just not sustainable

Some clinic owners are the problem-solver everyone looks to. This becomes an issue when the clinic owner can’t take a holiday or step back from managing the clinic for fear of it falling apart without them. Without setting up quality systems, processes, checklists, staff training or delegating work appropriately, they end up micromanaging the entire clinic.

Suppose your clinic continues to rely on you. Your clinic is unlikely to grow in a way that allows you to be able to have things run without you being there monitoring things 24/7.

A clinic that relies on you is unsellable

You need systems. Any clinic that relies on the owner is hard to sell. Suppose you want to sell your clinic for an above-average price. In that case, you need a clinic that makes good money, has excellent systems, quality marketing, and a proven record of operating well without the owners.

A new way to approach growing your clinic

Overhaul your clinic to get your perfect work-life balance

Is it time for a change but don’t know where to start? You may be interested in how we’ve been even the most experienced clinic owners achieve their dream clinic. Running your clinic can be beyond stressful. That’s where we come in. Whether your goal is to control your work-life balance, reduce your workdays, install systems that make your clinic run smoothly or hire the right people to help you succeed, we can help.

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