Nutrition entrepreneurs wear many hats. They’re a C-suite in one—business operations, financing, marketing, project management, and administration—and that’s before doing the actual dietitian job. With so many moving parts, having systems in place is crucial.
How Much Time Are You Wasting?
Working for yourself requires discipline. Awareness of where your time is being spent is key. Apps such as Moment and BreakFree track smartphone usage, deliver the bad news of how much time you’re wasting, and help set boundaries. Dietitian coach Katie Proctor, MBA, RDN, offers a free productivity worksheet to assess income- and nonincome-producing activities.
The best parts of working for yourself include not reporting to a boss and setting your own schedule, but this also can result in limited accountability, causing work/life balance to blur. Setting boundaries around your time is important not only for yourself but also for your clients. Avoid scheduling meetings too early or late in the day to prevent it from becoming a regular occurrence. Likewise, if clients receive e-mails from you during off-hours, they’ll assume it’s acceptable to contact you during these hours. Respect your time, and others will do the same.
Create a weekly time management schedule (click here to download a template). Determine where your focus will be each day of the week, then create time blocks where you should spend your energy. For example, I always choose Mondays as an administrative day. I purposely don’t schedule any meetings so my focus can be spent on business-related tasks. Then I block my time into scheduling social media posts, finances, answering e-mails, and projects. I also make it a point to schedule personal time, such as fitness and preparing and eating meals.
Using Technology Tools
Technology allows for more efficient business and time management. A favorite among dietitians is Asana, a project management tool that helps organize the many moving parts of a business and allows for easy communication among team members. Asana enables you to organize big projects or areas of your business into smaller tasks, set due dates for each step, sync calendars, and coordinate with other team members for easy communication and delegation. Kristina Todini, RDN, also recommends Week Plan for prioritizing. “I can estimate hours spent, track time on projects, and prioritize tasks, and it even has a vision and goals journal. I highly recommend it for those wearing many hats to help juggle the endless list of to-dos.”
MailChimp and Constant Contact have e-mail automation for frequent client contact. Yesware can be installed into most e-mail programs and has template creation, scheduling, and tracking capabilities. Social media scheduling programs, such as Buffer and CoSchedule, not only will schedule all your posts weeks in advance but also help avoid the black hole of logging on to each platform.
Dietitians in private practice rely on technology. “My EHR platform Healthie [which offers HIPAA-compliant practice management and telehealth tools for nutrition professionals] has made my life 10 times easier and has saved me hours every week while helping me practice more effectively at the same time,” says Chelsey Amer, RD. Samara Abbott, MSEd, RD, LDN, uses Acuity Scheduling with clients by including a link directly on her website where clients can prepay and self-schedule. The appointment confirmation contains welcome paperwork and office policies. Susan Stalte, RD, LDN, recommends Dubsado for client management, an automated system for sending invoices, contracts, questionnaires, and more.
Despite all of the technology options available, however, they don’t replace good old pen and paper. Elana Natker, MS, RD, prints out her calendar daily and hand-writes time logs. She also keeps a stopwatch on her desk to be honest about time usage. At the end of the week, she enters her time in Quickbooks.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is “obsessed with to-do lists. I write down every single thing I need to do in a day, from mundane things like doing laundry to work related. I time out things in my to-do lists, so if I send a freelance pitch today, I’ll put a note in my calendar to follow up again in a few weeks.”
What are some systems you have in place for your business?
— Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is the owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting, a communications and corporate wellness company based at the Jersey Shore. She’s the creator and author of the couples nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials. A former advertising executive, Mandy combines her business expertise with nutrition knowledge to assist colleagues in building their businesses through branding, advertising, and relationship skills. Learn more about Mandy at www.mandyenright.com, and follow her on social media @mandyenrightRD.