Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development

At the Bleeding Edge of Development, Reaping Benefit for Our Clients.

Tag: productivity

8. Productivity for Therapists: The Top 5 What-Not-To-Dos (Part 2 of 2)




In the previous post, I talked about the pit-falls of engaging in the “Blame-Game” and getting mixed up with being busy and being productive.

We continue the final count-down of “What-Not-To-Do” if we want to increase our productivity in a busy schedule.

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7. Productivity for Therapists: The Top 5 What-Not-To-Dos (Part 1 of 2)


Busy man

“Thus we are busy people just like all other busy people,

rewarded for the rewards which are rewarded to busy people.”

– Henri Nouwen, from The Way Of The Heart, p.22.



Just do a google search, and you’d soon be inundated with many blogs and self-help books that specifically addresses the issue of raising productivity. Many of them provide useful to-do suggestions.

While trying to straddle conducting research, providing training and supervision, writing commitments, myriad of meetings, making time to create music, and maintaining a clinical practice, I found out that I had to take a deep look into the issue of productivity, especially since the birth of our beautiful one and a half year old daughter. I love being with her. It was also a crucial time that I work out my schedule, so that I can afford the capacity do the stuff that matters to me. This also means that I would have have to cull activities that are unnecessary time killers. Like useless and mindless meetings.

 Necessity is the mother of important learnings.

I realised this issue of time scarcity isn’t unique to me. Many of my colleagues are overwhelmingly busy, sometimes to the point of skipping lunches just to squeeze in a therapy hour for an ad-hoc client, or going home late so as to finish up a report.

I’ve decided to write this post for the busy therapist, but from a less common angle. I reckon that this is more crucial than telling you “what-to-do”, which you would probably already know.

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#2. The Most Important Weekly Appointment: The “MMI” Meetings

“Thus we are busy people just like all other busy people, rewarded for the rewards which are rewarded to busy people.” 

– Henri Nouwen, from The Way Of The Heart, p.22.

Top Secret

I struggle with this all the time. Yet It is crucial to schedule time for ourselves. We know how important this is, but often more pressing issues get the better of our attention. It’s so easy to be drawn to busy-ness. But if our development is prized, we must devote a portion of our time to it. If we left it to, “I’d catch up on it when I get the time,” or “I’d squeeze so time in-between my work,” chances are, you won’t have the time. (See Cal Newport’s take on deep and intense work.)

If left to my own device, without any structured automation or scheduling, I probably spend more than 90 percent of the time trying to catch up on demands from other people, leaving little time – and energy – to work on what really matters.

Here’s How:

In you weekly planner, schedule at least one hour of the week called “MMI” Meeting (Me-Myself-&-I). You don’t have to explain to others what this stand for. If you can, get away your usual office space (“where are you going,” asks the inqusitive colleague. You reply, “I got a meeting to attend.”). If you are in private practice, book yourself in at the least scheduled hour by your clients. This is your protected time towards self-development. It is what Moore-Edd calls your “time cocoon.”

In this weekly hour of “MMI”, you’d devote towards one of the following things:

– Read;

– Watch therapy videos of others;

– Review your recordings of your session;

– Reflect on your recent sessions;

– listen to a piece of music, with your full singular attention through to the end of the piece;

– Take a walk; and/or

– Take a nap (seriously).

What Not to do:

– Check your emails (in fact, do not leave your email application on);

– Play with your smartphone;

– think about how great having MMI meetings might be;

– have a guilt trip while you have a MMI meeting;

– See more clients.

I can’t have said it better than Wayne Muller, the author of a book, Sabbath:

“The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves, and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.”


Add into  your weekly calendar a one hour “MMI” Meeting.

Once you have established your “MMI” Meeting in your schedule, resist the urge to over-ride this MMI hour. Busy-ness bedevils deep work and stunts growth. As Henri Nouwen alluded, busy people, reap the rewards of more busy-ness.