What do I do when…

So, what is the #1 question I get from people who are nervous about private practice? There are variations; questions like…

“What do I do when I don’t have any clients?”

“What do I do when my day falls apart?”

“What do I do when people cancel?”

Well, yesterday was one of those days for me.  Yes, even after almost 20 years you are going to have a day that is not what you expect or desire.  For me, yesterday was a mix of unfortunate incidents.

When I glanced at my book over the weekend, the following Tuesday looked to be a good day.  I had 11 people scheduled (I usually see 13, but I put in a lunch and I was going to cut out a little early).

On Monday morning (I have a 24 hour cancellation policy) I had 3 calls to reschedule for later in the week.  Tuesday morning I got a call from my 8AM who woke up with a sick baby, and 20 minutes later I got a message from a client who woke with the flu but offered to come in anyway if I wanted her to (I did not).  Finally, 2 hours before her appointment, I got a call from a client who was running late to the airport to fly to the west coast on vacation (ooops… she forgot to let me know).

So, there I sat with only 5 clients standing.  What did I do, you ask?

Well, with regard to billing, here’s how it panned out…

  • The three who gave enough notice I rescheduled into next week (I am booked the rest of this week)
  • The one who was sick and the one with the sick child —  I gave a pass to them and rescheduled  (they are longstanding clients and are both very reliable)
  • The last minute vacationer got a bill, and once she pays it, she’ll get another appointment

With regard to my time (I was sitting in the office anyway), here’s what I did…

  • I caught up with my notes and billing
  • I wrote a couple of blog posts
  • I wrote 4 thank you cards and sent them to good referral sources
  • I sent emails/letters to 10 people I think can send me (and my colleagues’) more referrals in the future
  • I wrote an Ezine article
  • I did 15 minutes of Mindfulness Meditation
  • I left early, feeling very accomplished for the day, and spent the evening catching up with the DVR and a good book

I guess I could have spent the day worrying and “awfulizing” and questioning my decision to go into private practice (20 years ago).  But I chose to do something more productive and less self-destructive.  And you know what?…

Today my book is full!

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  1. Dianne Baer /Reply

    When I first started, I was SO frustrated by no-shows and last minute cancellations. As I have found ways to use that time so that I’m not left with lots to do later after seeing clients, I try to think of it as sort of a “blessing” ….some days you just need a bit of time that maybe you aren’t even aware that you need!

    1. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

      Thanks Dianne. I so agree. It is a tough transition, but once you just “know” that the phone will ring again, an open spot in your day can really be a blessing for so many reasons (even for having the time to collect your thoughts).

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