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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

The BRIEF®2 ADHD Form uses BRIEF2 scores to predict the likelihood of ADHD. It is available on PARiConnect-PAR’s online assessment platform. Learn more at parinc.com.

All right, everyone. Hey, welcome back to another business episode.

Today’s topic is very dear to my heart and something that I feel like is always on my mind. And that topic is Systems Inefficiency in your Practice.

Now, we have talked a lot about systems in the past on the podcast. [00:01:00] I’ve had previous guests talking about systems. But today I am honored to have Natasha Vorompiova who is here to talk all about systems and her work at her company, which is called Systems Rock.

Natasha is a true expert on systems. She has made a career out of teaching systems and finding systems and helping others implement systems, including working with quite a few psychologists. So she knows our industry. And I think you’ll see that during our conversation today. We talk specifically about systems as a testing psychologist and how important those can be.

Now a little bit about Natasha. She is the rare breed who deeply loves systems, analytics, and numbers and uses her dark magic to build metrics tracking tools for her clients to turn their marketing into a precision machine. At the same time, she is incredible at making the most complex techie [00:02:00] topics feel super approachable. She’s currently helping her clients unlock the treasures hidden in their data to optimize their marketing and grow purposefully, intentionally, and strategically.

Please enjoy this conversation with Natasha.

I really connected with her again on our shared love of systems. It seems like a somewhat inherent desire to find inefficiencies in daily life and figuring out how to solve those inefficiencies.

So just a few things we dig into, we talk about common mistakes or bad habits that psychologists tend to have in our practices or our systems. We talk about common systems that we need. We talk about specific technology and software to help develop systems. And we dig into what it means to integrate your systems and your software [00:03:00] along with a number of other topics. And Natasha tells a few stories that really help bring this topic to life. I hope you enjoy.

Now, if you are an advanced practice owner or a practice owner who’s looking to grow and expand and maybe get to that advanced level, The Testing Psychologist Advanced Practice Mastermind might be a good fit for you. You can get more information at thetestingpsychologists.com/advanced and schedule a pre-group call there just to see if it’s a good fit.

Okay. Without further ado, here she is, Natasha Vorompiova.

Dr. Sharp: Hey Natasha, welcome to the podcast.

Natasha: Hi, Jeremy. Thank you so [00:04:00] much for having me. I’m delighted to be here.

Dr. Sharp: Well, I am delighted to be talking with you. I love talking about systems. I am really thrilled to be talking with a true expert on systems. Someone who has built a business around systems and you’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m super grateful. We were introduced in a way by two psychologists in one of my mastermind groups. And they both were like, “You have to talk to Natasha. She knows everything about systems and organization.” So yeah, I’m just really grateful that you’re here. Thank you so much.

Natasha: It’s very exciting. Yes, I’m really enjoying working with them as well. And we’ve been able to streamline their systems to the point where it feels absolutely effortless to run their business. That’s always my goal to make systems fit like a glove so that you don’t have to make an effort.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. I guarantee [00:05:00] everybody who’s listening is completely engaged already in this podcast. They’re like, “Effortless?” Can I have an effortless system? That sounds amazing.

Natasha: Let’s share with you secrets for how you make your systems effortless.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I want to know the secret. Okay. Well, let’s see.

So I always ask, and I would love to hear this from you. Of all the things, why is this important to you? Why pursue a business or a career in developing systems for people?

Natasha: Well, one of the main reasons I actually started or ventured into this area was because when I first started my business, I actually thought that I will be doing marketing consulting, but then in the first 2-3 months, I realized that I was so overwhelmed and there was so much to do. We had just moved [00:06:00] to EU from my country. I had a tiny baby in this country where I did not know the language. And there were so many things. I could not really organize myself. And it was very frustrating because I’ve always been organized.

I’ve done project management at work even though it was in the corporate world even though it wasn’t my core responsibility. So I couldn’t figure it out. And it was in my effort to organize and streamline things for myself that I realized that there are systems for online business owners. I started testing them and trying them and that turns into business pretty quickly.

After a few years of doing that, the thing that I come back to over and over again is that I really don’t like a waste. I don’t like wasting time. [00:07:00] I don’t like wasting resources. I don’t like wasting even little things. Like whenever it gets to the point where… like we have a 2-story house, so whenever I go upstairs, I always kind of automatically scan through the room to see if there’s anything that needs to go upstairs. Whenever I am upstairs I do the same thing so that I don’t go back and forth twice.

And I tried to teach my son the same thing. He’s a very structured person, I think, by nature, but I’m sure that he picked up a few things from me as well.

Like I said, I remember when he was maybe 4 years, he just started with tennis lessons and he was leaving to tennis lessons with his father and I was in the living room and they were in the whole getting ready. So I was hearing what he was saying but he wasn’t seeing me. I heard him talking to himself. And he was saying, “Bottle of water [00:08:00] check, bracket, check, kiss, mama, goodbye check.”

And I was like, “Oh my gosh. It’s either very rude or I brought my child very early.” So it’s kind of like part of it as very much of what they actually do and a part of it was like I sought out just because they knew that without systems, I would just say go under very quickly.

Dr. Sharp: I got you. You are kind of answering my next question which is, do you feel like you were just born this way? You just naturally have a mind that looks for efficiency and organization and systems, or did you learn this along the way somehow?

Natasha: A lot of it is actually learned. I have met people who are much more structured and systems-oriented than an I am. So it’s not something that I cannot… So this is not kind of just like [00:09:00] it’s this or there’s nothing that I could do. But what I have found out once I started working with other business owners is that I can make things really simple. I can listen to somebody in the way you work, I can understand where they’re coming from and what they need, and create a system for that. Because what I see happen sometimes is that there is a consultant that comes in and almost forces systems on you because this is how things are supposed to work. This is what has worked for somebody else.

And I strongly believe that for small businesses like ours where it’s for the most one person or one person and an assistant, it’s really very important to look at what works for us and [00:10:00] create systems around that versus it coming and forcing systems from outside- in. I love saying that the best systems come from within because you look at what’s easier for you: how you normally work, how you normally organize things, what are gravitating towards.

Yes, for sure we will have to break some habits that don’t work for us. However, it all always needs to start in my opinion with what’s already working and how we can improve that and build on that versus kind of like scratching everything, building this new thing that then feels very foreign.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. You’re like a system psychologist. It sounds like you have a brain that just sort of goes in that direction but then you also have a maybe an intuition of sorts where you can…

Natasha: I guess so. [00:11:00] I’ve been called once a systems therapist. It’s very interesting. Very good observation.

Dr. Sharp:  That’s funny. The way you describe it, it’s like you’re doing therapy but just for organization and efficiency, which is great. We need it.

As we dive into this, let’s just lay some groundwork. I’ve talked about “systems” on the podcast here before but I would love to hear your definition. When you say systems, what does that mean for you?

Natasha: To me, it’s truly and really just a step by step that you follow in order to achieve something. It has to be a step-by-step that you follow every single time for it to actually become a system. So you step back, you break something that you do in clear steps, and then you start “working with that system” [00:12:00] going through the steps. Sometimes you experience that things don’t flow as they’re supposed to flow. So you look at different reasons that come up. Maybe there’s this step missing, or maybe you need to change the order of your steps. But the first thing all the time is just breaking everything into steps, kind of like looking at it very objectively and making sure that it’s repeatable step-by-step. So it’s step-by-step plus it’s repeatable. So to me, that’s a system.

Dr. Sharp: I got you. Do you ever run into people who have a hard time even breaking things down into steps, like even seeing the process enough to break it down like that or most people…?

Natasha: Sure, that why they call me.

Dr. Sharp: Okay, I was just so naive.

Natasha: What is true is that there are some people who are [00:13:00] inclined to see things one way and some people who really observe things in a very different way. So to me, especially in the beginning, I always considered myself less creative because I would see all these people kind of like hatching new ideas on the fly. They’re coming up with these amazing concepts. And I was really struggling with that. I was almost upset with myself. It’s like, why am I not that way?

But then once I stepped back and listened to what my clients were telling me because a lot of times I take them through the same process of organizing their business.

But systems look very different because they are very different. They use different tools. So what one of my clients told me [00:14:00] once was that you’re very creative at what you do. The way that you go about creating systems is really creative. Creativity to me is like something that I was not seeing what I do as a creative work where in fact, it’s actually is to some degree.

So, yeah, some people see things one way. The way that I look at things, until they put them into categories, it’s just challenging for me to make sense of things. So yeah, I really need to organize things for my brain to operate.  And I get that some people work in a way where it’s very chaotic, things are all over the place, and it’s what works for them.

If I may share one more story. This is something that I worked very [00:15:00] early. I think I was about 8years. My grandfather was a metalsmith. So he had a workroom and he had this, what is it called? metal coils or something?

Well, anyway, the things that he was using day-to-day in his work. And they were different sizes and different colors, but they were scattered all over the place. So there was no order. So I was 8 and one day decided to just sneak to do my grandfather a favor. So I secretly sneaked into his workroom and organized everything for him. All those things, I organized them by color, by size. He had this very large area where his store most of them, so, I [00:16:00] put all of them over there instead of some being on his working table and some under the table.

And that was like so proud. Exhausted but so proud. And then my grandfather came in and he looked at everything at this place which was so beautifully organized. And like I saw the blood drain out of his face. I was just waiting for the compliments, and he was just like, “What did you do?” And I said, “I organized everything.” He goes, “Yeah. But now I will not be able to find the new thing.” I was like, “What do you mean?” And he goes like, “Yeah, because those items that were on my table or under, those were the ones that I was using most often and like things that… And he started explaining his logic and that’s when I got for the first time that [00:17:00] systems come from within. Something that doesn’t look like a system to me can be a system to another person.

So I can never force something on anybody and expect them to benefit from it. I really need to look at what works for that person. We need to examine that and if it works for them. It doesn’t really have to look in a way where the majority of people will say, “Yeah, that’s a system.” So, yeah, I’m flexible when it comes to systems.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, it’s got me thinking because I feel like maybe my brain works similarly to yours. I feel very linear and straightforward. And this is how we organize things and so forth. So I’m curious when you run into practice owners, do you have an example of [00:18:00] working with someone or maybe an example of what a chaotic “system” might look like in a business like ours, like in private practice that you have to be flexible and work with someone to meet them where they’re at but still develop a logical system?

Natasha: Well, this is something that I find especially for somebody in your field, this is one of the places where I had to be super flexible because the way that I usually approach things with online business owners and those are my primary clients that somebody who comes in and they don’t run businesses similar to mine, but it’s just an indifferent industry.

But I find what’s happening in the medical field, like [00:19:00] for psychiatrists especially is that you have so many tools that don’t talk to each other. So many programs that you have to be using on a daily basis that you cannot streamline. You cannot make them talk to each other. You cannot migrate everything into one tool because it’s something… another methodology that I use a lot and I try to implement for as many clients as possible is using as few tools as possible.

I want to make sure that when you use the tool, you use it to the full potential instead of just using this tool for taking notes and this tool to taking snapshots and this tool can…  you end up having like all these tools that you have to open all the time. That does work to some extent for psychiatrists, but not very well [00:20:00] because you have all these forms that they have to fill out on different sites. And you have to write these reports and pull information from five different places. You work with so many different formats.

When I first started working with Stephanie, it was just like, “I have no idea how he would do this.” I would just go crazy because I had to work with all these tools. So I had to get very creative to find a way for it to be more structured and streamlined but at the same time adjusted to what needed to happen. There has to be a report that comes out at the end of the day, or like at the end of that period.

So to answer your questions, to go back to the question, systems can look chaotic sometimes. What I am more looking for in my clients is not [00:21:00] whether they have these chaotic systems,  like whether they are chaotic or not but more about their mindset about systems because one of the things that we need to keep in mind is that systems are also… a lot of times, we have to break the bad habits. Sometimes it’s something that we have to take into account and make sure and kind of just be like, Hey, look, we’re doing it this way because this works for me easier. But sometimes it’s a bad habit that’s somebody would not want to break only because if something becomes so familiar, we’re used to doing something this way to the point where even though we [00:22:00] know that it’s not the most efficient way of doing things, instead of me taking this like extra five seconds to properly label the document, I’ll just save it on the desktop and move forward. And then I will spend two hours two weeks later trying to find it among all these myriad of documents saved on your desktop. So it’s something like that I have to put my foot down and say, “No, we are actually breaking this habit.”

So it’s not that I will… My flexibility and my philosophy that systems come from within are not to say that  I’ll come in and now just make things work for you completely. It is very much mutual. It’s a collaboration. we have to meet each other halfway because things that don’t work for you, I will point out, and [00:23:00] we will find a way for you to actually regulate the habit and to get used to it. And it’s very important. It’s very critical.

And this is the client who said that I was like a system therapist because we spent a lot of time rebuilding her systems. But just as much time we talked about why she was doing things the way she was doing them and what was in the way of her breaking those bad habits. And by bad habits, it can be that like naming of the documents, but it can also be like saying yes to, and that was… she was a coach. So if she would not have the strength to say no to somebody, she would take all these projects and she wanted me to organize her workload.

But then when she saying yes to everything, it’s just like, [00:24:00] No. Everybody has 24 hours. You have to actually find a way to say no to people. So we talked a lot about, okay, why aren’t you comfortable saying no? So it is very much kind of just like therapy work. The coaching that happened because we worked together all in all for a year just because it was not just systems work like afterward my team member was working with her closely to just support her and we would have these calls on a regular basis as well. And she was a very different person when we first started. It was really amazing to see the difference from just her attitude towards systems, because, in the beginning, she was like, “I’m the business owner. Things have to be done my way. I have my team [00:25:00] to help me get stuff done.”

But then when she brings all these new projects all the time because she cannot say no to people, then it becomes difficult for the team no matter how great they are. After a while, she realized what she was doing and why her team was so struggling to do things that were on their plates. And when she changed that, that things have shifted in her business as well. And then at the end of our time together, she said like, “I don’t even know how I was still doing things before. I look back and I can’t imagine what the people around me were going through with me just bouncing on the walls and taking all these new projects and not respecting deadlines.

[00:26:00] So yeah, I am quite demanding in terms of… I can be lenient to some extent. We can come up with something around what works for you but you have to expect to put work in as well. It’s not going to be kind of just like I’ll come in with just this magical theory and you’ll continue doing like these things the way you’re doing them without any regard for the people around you like your old schedule. I cannot fix that.

Dr. Sharp: Right. I feel like you said so many important things in the last few minutes. I want to unpack all of that a little bit.

First of all, I like that you tackle both sides of it, sort of the big picture and being able to say to someone it doesn’t matter what kind of system we build, it’s not going to be able to sustain this level of input or [00:27:00] this level of work or whatever you want to call it. Like the best system in the world still might break under too heavy of a load. We have to kind of get a handle on our capacity and be honest about that.

But I think that that piece that you said also about we get started with systems that are inefficient and then we have so much investment that we aren’t willing or able to take the time to change those, and we get used to it and it’s familiar and it feels overwhelming to think about changing that. I think that probably resonates with a lot of people. And so I am curious about, you know, you’ve said bad habits, what are some other bad habits that you see in working with people? And if it’s specific to psychologists, that would be even better. But yeah, I’m curious, like, what are some of those things that you come in and you’re like, “Oh goodness, we’re going [00:28:00] to need to change this pretty quickly”?

Natasha: One of the main things that I see, and this is actually across the board, small business owners don’t use a project management tool. They keep everything in their heads. And they kind of just like have that checklist in their heads in terms of like these are the client work that they need to do, and this is what needs to happen.

And it is easy in terms of, okay, I don’t really need to take time to put down what needs to happen and I don’t need to outline what actually needs to happen for that. But we all know that that doesn’t work. That doesn’t work when [00:29:00] somebody is working by themselves just because their brain is constantly trying to close those loops and it cannot so it cannot rest. It’s really impossible to not have a place where all those tasks reside that your brain can just relax and just shut the work out for an hour or two. And you can go and relax with your family because they keep constantly run through this list of okay. Like, “Oh, what about that? I need to make sure that I follow up with so and so, Oh, I need to make sure that I send this list to somebody else.”

And it’s just this constant to-do list that is running through our heads so that we don’t forget it. So we get crazy very quickly. That’s why we get overwhelmed.

And that’s why we get so exhausted. But things [00:30:00] get even more complicated when somebody brings in an assistant because they cannot read your mind. They cannot help you if you don’t explain something to them. And you can sit down with them and explain something to them and train them to do something. But if there is no written explanation or a quick video they can go back to or that same step-by-step that we talk about earlier, they will be making mistakes, especially in the beginning. And the business owner, usually it goes back to, “Oh, I’ll just do it myself. It’s faster.”

And then we’re just like, no, it’s not going to be faster because then you bring somebody else on the board, then it becomes the assistant’s fault. And then you bring somebody else on board and 1) you have to retrain them all over again. And 2) it will still be the same [00:31:00] problem because the way things are done because you are the business owner, you know how it needs to be done, but it all lives in your head. You never took the time to even figure out what are the steps and all of that.

For me to write this report, I need to speak with the parents, I need to send these links, and I need to listen to that. Yeah, exactly, just list them for each patient. Each project management tool allows you to copy that list over and over again. And you know where you are with each patient so that if you know that this person is at this place, this person at that place, that allows you to then streamline things even further because you can batch similar activities. You can see which parts of the process can be actually delegated if it’s something that’s very easy to [00:32:00] delegate. You can find ways to potentially even automate that and kind of just be like at least these two tools, I can make them talk to each other. I can easily send an email into my project management tool and turn it into a task. So instead of just doing it twice, I can send an email to this teacher asking to fill out the form but at the same time BCC my project management tool, and it will be there. So I will know that I send them the note to this teacher. So I don’t have to then try to remember whether I did that or not. So there are things that we do quite naturally and we don’t think about implications.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. You’re making so many good points. And I think people are, again, just resonating with this idea of holding all this information in our minds around the evaluation process. And I get so many questions like, how do you keep track of where you’re at in the process, and how do you know when you’ve sent these checklists? Or how do you know when the report’s done? Like, these [00:33:00] are great questions. So what is this project management software that you are talking about? And do you have…

First of all, what is project management software? And then do you have a preferred software that you’d like to work with or help people with?

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Natasha: There are so many. The ones that I usually use with my clients are Asana or there are these new kids on the block. One is ClickUp and another one Monday.com. And Monday.com is HIPAA compliant but it becomes that at the highest level. So it gets very expensive. The one that we use now with Leone is Dock Health. And that seems to be reasonably priced and it’s quite robust. They are [00:35:00] still developing it. So there are some bugs here and there but this is something that I think has really big potential.

So basically what you’re looking for is a tool that will house all your tasks. And when you’re looking for that software beyond just being HIPAA compliant, you need to think about things like; 1) I have to be able to… I mean, there’ll be some things that will be pretty standard. So like you have tasks and you can organize them into projects and you can set deadlines. So that’s given.

But things that I always look at and the features that I always look for are whether you can set recurring tasks so that I don’t really need to worry about like every Monday, I have, for example, a task the admin hour or something like that. I don’t [00:36:00] want to be setting the deadline for it every single Friday. I want repeatable tasks. And I want to be able to create templates. That’s another huge time-saver because once you figured out your evaluation process, you have those steps and every time a new patient comes in, you just take the template, copy it, rename it with the name of the patient and there you are here. You have your exact step-by-step that needs to happen. You can even take it one step further and in the template, if there are several people involved in this process, you can literally assign the tasks to them. So you can save so much time by doing that.

And the last thing that I look for always is being able to zoom in on the big picture, meaning like, I want to see where I am with like all my client work or all the projects that I’m working in and like zooming in on a [00:37:00] specific project or specific client plus zooming on like tasks that my assistant or I are working on. So to be able to see this is what they have on their plate. Can I add something? Can I not? So that is very critical to me. So of all things, that is very important.

To go back to your previous question, another really important piece is scheduling. You have the most amazing scheduling system. I love Acuity Scheduling.

I use it myself. It’s so seamless. It’s something that allows you to skip all of this back and forth.

And something that we did with Stephanie is that she is also using Acuity now. We created different [00:38:00] types of sessions for her. So depending on at which stage of the process the parents are, she can send them different links. Those appointments have different availability. Nothing ever overlaps. Nothing takes longer than it’s supposed to be. She can send specific instructions for how things need to be done or what the person needs to have when they get them the call. So you can just get so many things out of the way with just one scheduling system. So the project management on the scheduler, just find something and then stick with that and you’ll be able to save so many hours.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. No, I think this is good for us to be talking about because we do get locked into our way of doing things. And some of these systems are, like, I certainly didn’t learn about these [00:39:00] pieces of software in graduate school. I don’t know a ton of other practice owners who are using these kinds of things. So, just to be exposed to some of these pieces of software is crucial. You mentioned this idea of having the software talk to each other too. Can you explain a little bit more about what that means when you say to have your software talk to each other?

Natasha: Yeah. So one of the examples is like I mentioned, your email can “talk” to your project management tool. You can send an email to the project management or specify which project, or what client profile you want that to go. What you can also do, and this is something that we are experimenting with right now with another client is, [00:40:00] when somebody submits an evaluation, that can also go for one, it automatically creates a Google drive folder. So everything is organized for that patient there. And hadn’t had that before. She’s very systems-oriented. I’m just so delighted to work with her. But what we’re trying to figure out is that can we now connect this tool that she uses to send out questionnaires with her project management tool so we can collect as much information about the patient in one place as possible?

So the goal again is to, if we have to use all these different tools, at least we can have one single place where everything lives. So when she becomes working on the [00:41:00] report for this person, she can easily grab all these things. She can easily get access to everything that she needs so that she doesn’t look in five different places. So it is finding these ways to streamline the way that things are working and see if the different steps can be skipped in the process.

Basically, the way that you do is you look for ways to integrate things. So whenever you look for a tool, you look in the section integrations. That’s where it’s going to do a list of what other tools can easily be linked together. And on top of that, there is this, and I don’t know whether this… we haven’t really tried it yet just because they don’t know what if it breaks any of [00:42:00] our privacy rules.

But the tool that I use a lot with my clients is called Zapier. That is just a marvelous tool. It was created specifically with the purpose to have different tools talk to each other. So even when you have two tools that there are no built-in integrations, what Zapier does, it works like, if this then that. So like, if this happens in this tool, automatically this will happen in this other tool. So like somebody submitted a form, I get the notification that somebody submitted a form. For example, we made a payment, I get a notification or that payment gets added to my spreadsheet with all the income that I received so I can easily see where I am with my income this month. This is very [00:43:00] basic. So there are other tools that do that much better but this is the way that it actually works.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I love Zapier. I’m trying to think of other examples that might be relevant for us. But we’ve set it up where if let’s just say like, if a form or a document is uploaded to our Google drive folder, it will send my admin staff an email just to let them know, something like that. It’s like really simple stuff but it saves so how much time and trouble and effort from having to manually do these things or remember to do these things. It just does that automatically. And it’s pretty cost-effective. I love that software.

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. But here’s a creative way to use Zapier. And I think that this will be something that will be relevant to our listeners is [00:44:00] when you get the clients and for example, their record is created somewhere or like added, they submitted the payment or their folder got created in Google drive. Your assistant can be sent an email with maybe some say their mailing details to just send them a thank you card or something like this. So that can definitely be done. And this is something that’s will add so much to the client experience.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I really can’t say enough about that software. If people haven’t checked that out, Zapier is great. It really does connect all, maybe not all, but most of the major pieces of software you might use. It’s Gmail and Google workspace and Facebook and Twitter and MailChimp. I mean, it’s like everything. You can make connections between them. And it’s really cool. You can get [00:45:00] really creative with how you do those things.

Now you said a little bit ago that we do have to use these disparate systems because the problem that a lot of us run into is that we have our electronic health records and those tend to be like closed systems that don’t talk to other pieces of software very easily. So we at least end up with two separate pieces of software too really hard. And you mentioned earlier that you always try to find something to house most of the information, sort of a central place where you want most of the documents to go or most of the information. Where do you like to put that? What software do you like to use as the central catch-all place to house everything? Do you have any favorites?

Natasha: For the most [00:46:00] part in most cases, and I talk about my regular clients who are just business owners. I try with them to make their project management tool that place because especially when the team starts growing and there are several people that are involved in a project, they need to be able to get access to all these different things that they will need to perform that action.

There are two steps that actually happen because a lot of times we use different tools to save documents at the same time. So there is Dropbox. There is Google drive. Some people use Box. Some people use whatever Microsoft has. I’m sorry.

Dr. Sharp: [00:47:00] It’s all good.

Natasha: We were just trying to use this tool that is available only on PCs and it’s been such a painful process. If I did not like Microsoft before, now I passionately don’t like it.

Dr. Sharp: I’m with you.

Natasha: But where I was going with that, so basically you make your project management tool the place that houses links. So it doesn’t have to have all the documents necessarily, but you have to have links. So, the way that it works is that, first, you step back and create the step by step that needs to happen. Second, you look out for this step by step to happen, if somebody else was performing it, and this is actually critical because we get too close to the process and we kind of just like [00:48:00] skip steps.

But when we just take a step back and look at it from my side, which is like, “Okay, if I was explaining this to somebody and if I was giving them everything that they need to do to perform this, what would they need?” Then your brain starts working and you see they will need access to this document and this document and the explanation of how to do this. So you build your workflow with everything that you or somebody else would need to make it happen. So that’s how you decide which links need to go into that task or project.

And what is also very important, it’s very helpful, but that’s […] What I love my clients to do is decide if they use several tools for the same purpose, so if they use Dropbox to save documents and Google drive, and I do the same. So I’m not [00:49:00] saying that like you have to use one, but then decide which tool houses which types of documents. So like in Dropbox, these are those types of documents. In Google drive, for example, all client records, folders, and all of that so that there is this system in your head when you go and save a file, you know where to save it so that you know where to find that afterward. So that’s the only reason why you want to do it.  I’m not advocating for either one. I don’t really care, but it will be helpful for your own sanity too to know where which type of documents goes.

And from there, you decide this is what needs to be in this project, in this workflow. And these are two links. So like when I sit down to work on the report, what links do I need to have access to? And how do I make sure that I know where I can [00:50:00] find all those documents. So for example, when you sit down to work on the report, it’s not that you have to have every single link to every single form in your project management tool, but you can have kind of just random links, and you will also have a link to the Google Drive folder where you have all these forms that everybody’s submitted and where you’ll have the reports shell that you will be using. So it doesn’t have to be kind of just like… you don’t have to go super crazy. Just do what feels more logical and efficient to you.

And the last piece of advice that I would give them in this regard is just don’t strive for perfection. Start wherever you are. In the beginning, make a scrappy system. It doesn’t have to be super because that’s what scares us. And that’s why we don’t do [00:51:00] it because we believe that, Oh my God, for me to actually make it into a system, I need to stop everything, reevaluate everything, make it into this big perfect Chinese system, and then moving in into this beautiful house and then live in it. And that’s not realistically. I would love that but we cannot do that.

The way that I love to approach it with my clients if I’m not the one who is… because usually when we create systems, we would sit down and I would have them download this system out of their brain into mine so that afterward, I can then go and create this step-by-step for them. And then they can start with something that’s somewhat mapped out. But if you’re doing it yourself, simply next time you can get the patient, [00:52:00] just jot down every single thing that you do, like, I send this, I need to get an intake form them. Just have even a piece of paper and as you go through the process with this patient or this child, just note it down step by step by step. You don’t have to set aside even like two hours, even one hour, do it gradually with one. It will take an extra couple of minutes for sure. So it’s not completely painless. So you cannot be completely on autopilot. But it will save you hours afterward because you will go through it with one client kind of just painstaking jotting everything down, but the next one you will come back to your list and see, Oh, here are the documents that I use. Here I skipped the step because for that client I [00:53:00] did not need that step but for this one I need it. So let me make sure that I put it in because some clients will have the steps, some will not, but let me have an exhaustive list.

So it can very much be a work in progress. But every time you do it, it will be easier and easier because especially if you begin using a project management tool where you can copy that template, you can just simply improve it every single time with every single client, every single patient, every single child that comes in, you can improve it further and further and further.

And you will notice that just takes a couple of weeks and it will be a system that you will be able to work with. Like something that you will be able to hold in your hands and delegate the parts of it to somebody because it will be something that doesn’t live inside your head. It’s not something that you cannot separate from you because at [00:54:00] the end of the day, business is something that we have to be able to manage rather like it totally like managing us. And the more you can separate yourself from the tasks that you are doing, the easier it will be to organize it all and in the end, be able to do more. But do more not in an overwhelming way, but in a relaxed way, in this effortless way because you will not need to rely on your brain to tell you what needs to happen next. You will be able to just say, go to your tool, and say, okay, these are the reports that I need to create. This is where I am with each one of them. This is what I can get done now. This is what I can delegate. And it just becomes really seamless process versus being this [00:55:00] mountain of work that you’re always carrying with yourself.

Dr. Sharp: Right. It frees up so many cognitive resources to do the work that’s actually important versus just remembering all these little tasks.

Natasha: Right. You need your brains more than anybody else.

Dr. Sharp: We do. We need those brains. That’s so true. This has been great. I wonder just as we start to wrap up, are there any other systems, I mean, we’ve talked about scheduling and project management and getting the software to talk to each other and the evaluation process. Are there any other major systems that you see that we need in private practice that we haven’t touched on already?

Natasha: Well, the tool that it was actually Leanne’s find. She totally gets the credit. So there are [00:56:00] two things in my opinion now that we started implementing it, it can revolutionize any private practice because there are so many forms that you send out that get filled out that you have to use afterwards for your reports. What do we have found that there is a FormTool. And this is the one that works on PC. It’s painful but it’s totally worth it because it allows you to codify those answers and create this narrative and pull those answers into the narrative every time before it gets submitted. So what we’re playing with right now with Leanne are different efficient ways to write those reports so that she doesn’t have to write it over and over again, like the same thing over and over again. So the FormTool is [00:57:00] one way to do this.

And another one is, I don’t need to introduce you to this, TextExpander. This is something you have so many amazing tutorials and so many great examples of how to use it. So, this is something that just between those two tools you can just explode your practice so you can save so much time. And yes, it does take a bit of time to figure it out and organize it in a way where it’s structured so that you can create this very coherent narrative and use it afterward. So we’re right now playing with different scenarios. We’re testing. And we’re saying, okay, like in this case, it’s going to be directly kind of like pulling answers into the paragraphs, in this case, it will just be with pulling answers because you need to [00:58:00] look through the answers and then you always put it in your own words. So it’s not something that we can put as already written text. 

Leanne is so amazing because she’s so open to testing and trying new things. That’s how her brain works anyway. So it’s fun because we get to Brainstorm all these different ways. She’s so fearlessly like “We’re doing that” and goes like, “Okay, like we are doing it.” And she actually puts it into practice. She has this project management tool now and she’s communicating with their support team because there are some things that she wants to be done this way. So it’s amazing.

And I think that is available to just about anybody if you kind of like allow it to happen because [00:59:00] we all want more time. We all want to spend quality time doing what we love. Our listeners, I’m sure that they are really, really amazing at what they do. But a lot of times, because we are just so overwhelmed with all these logistical things that just takes away the joy of what you’re actually doing and the value that you’re providing. So I think that it’s totally worth it to spend a bit of time to step back, evaluate how you’re doing things, go through this discomfort of creating the new habits, breaking the old ones and creating new ones, because then it becomes this really [01:00:00] great place to be when you’re at work and when you were just interviewing another new client. And once you’ve done that, and once you’ve collected the forums, it will not take you 2 to 3 weeks to put together the report.

Dr. Sharp: Right? So something I hear a lot from people is I don’t even have time to do that. I’m too busy. So what do you say to people who might say that to you? Like where do I find the time to even start to create a system?

Natasha: Well, at the end of the day, it’s, it’s our choice to find the time or not. I think it’s not about… I think the question is not helpful. It’s not about where I find the time, it’s how I [01:01:00] find the time. Because if you’re really committed to doing it, you will find the time. Honestly, I’m not a shoe person but I’ll just give this example because some listeners might resonate. If I want that pair of shoes, I will find the money. I’ll make it happen. And it’s the same thing with time. We’ll make it happen if we really, really want to because there are so many creative ways of doing that.

It can be whenever you would get a new client and just asking them to start one day, two days, one week later. It can be asking for an extension of a deadline on something that you’re already working on. It can be bringing [01:02:00] somebody in to do something that is really tedious and it doesn’t need you to do it. Like maybe there’s some filing that needs to be done. Maybe the days some things that you don’t have to be doing that. But when you approach it from, if I were to find time, where could they find it? I’m sure that you can find the answer.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. It’s so true. We do make time for lots of things. We just have to put this on our agenda.

Natasha: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. One last question.

Natasha: I guess this might that be applicable to all listeners, but I just get up earlier. It can as simple as that.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Get up a little earlier or stay up a little later. Right.

Natasha:  And then it doesn’t have to happen forever. You know that I’m just investing this time and efforts, I’ll just [01:03:00] devote two weeks and like I’ll get up like half an hour earlier or I’ll stay half an hour later to work on this specific thing. But just create the task for yourself, add to your task list, and then get it done. Again, that doesn’t have to happen overnight. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be some things that will immediately allow you to save so much time. But also don’t leave it open-ended like, I’ll just do it until it’s done. Give yourself time. Like I have two weeks, let me just take time myself and see what I can accomplish in two weeks, and then I can reevaluate and see.

So, we are responsible for our results really. And I know we all have so many responsibilities and at times it seems like, “Oh my God, now I have to do this too?” But there are so many [01:04:00] places where we are often people-pleasing or doing things that we don’t enjoy anyway. So a lot of times it’s just like saying no to things that you don’t like or commitments that you have that you don’t enjoy doing anyway. It’s a hard conversation that you have to have with yourself, but there are places to find the time.

Dr. Sharp: That’s such a good point. Well, let me ask one last question. I promise this is the last one.

What do you do because I’m guessing there are people out there who are saying, we’ve gotten to the end of this conversation and they’re like, “I have no idea about anything you’ve talked about. I am not tech-savvy. I don’t know how to work with technology. I’m all paper and pencil.”What do you say, or how might you support those individuals in making a transition to a more efficient system with some of the software? Or do you think there’s a way to be efficient if you’re tech [01:05:00] averse?

Natasha: Well, technology does make things easier. And if you feel completely uncomfortable/nuts with keeping things the way they are, it’s also up to you. You can make the system work for you too. There are definitely kind of ways to make it even that easier because this is something that we played with Stephanie is that she will take her notes by hand. And we were playing with different scenarios for how to make this more efficient because afterwards, when she has to type the report, then she has to retire the entire thing.

So we initially started with a scanner to scan her notes. And then afterward she simply got an iPad where like she writes with an iPad pen. [01:06:00] She writes the same thing and it converts it into a document. So there are always ways to transition to something that’s a bit more efficient. Like you don’t have to go all the way.

And in terms of where to start, start with one thing. Start with something that takes way too much of your time or start with the thing that’s easiest to accomplish because we love being rewarded for our efforts. And this is something that we really have to use to our own advantage knowing that. So the more little wins you have, the easier you will get into the realism of kind of just like, Oh, here, like I streamline this piece. My goodness. I’m saving 5 minutes a week. It doesn’t matter. 5 minutes a week [01:07:00] over the course of a year, it’s the weekend where you can just sit in the sun and read a book and not think about anything. It’s a lot. We really underestimate the amount of time that we would just allow to slip through our fingers.

So, starts small. Start with something simple that doesn’t feel like, “Oh my goodness, it’s a huge project.” Talk to your peers and ask them how they do it. Because if somebody has already figured something out, you don’t have to be the one doing all the research and trying to find a solution. What Leanne did is she just went and asked in different communities. I know that she asked in your group. She found some articles online. She just did some research herself. So you don’t have to figure it out all from scratch. Just ask for recommendations like what is the [01:08:00] best tool, what is the easiest, how does it work? And then they look would this work for the way that I work? Because especially with project management tools, the way that I decide with clients which one they should use is I go with, which way helps you to organize information for yourself because there are lists people and there are visual people who are more like CAMBA kind of people.

So just notice what works for you and find little shortcuts, tiny ones, one after another. Again, ask how could I do this? So it’s not about whether it’s going to work or when do I do this, just ask how just how [01:09:00] with the intention of like, let me just play this game. Let me figure out how it works because the system suck. We can look at it and be like, “Oh my God. This is the 6th admin thing” Or it can be okay, it’s a game. I want to find something that works. Let’s see.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. Just be curious, don’t be afraid to ask for support, and just get started. 

Natasha: And you say it so much simpler. Like I go on and on and on and then you say what I said in one sentence.

Dr. Sharp: That’s my job, right? I’m just trying to help us close nicely and succinctly. And there’s the takeaway, right?

Natasha: I appreciate it. Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: No, this is great. I feel like we have covered a lot of ground in this conversation. I’ve learned some things in this conversation, which is fantastic. I can’t wait to go check out some of these resources and [01:10:00] tweak my relationship with the Asana.

Thanks so much for coming on. If people want to reach out or get more information about your services, what’s the best way to do that? Where can they find you?

Natasha: My website. If you would like, you can just shoot me an email. So my website is SystemsRock.com not surprisingly because systems rock, and then it would be natasha@systemsrock.com. But I’m also on Facebook. I might be on Instagram soon. I’m thinking about it. But if you drop me a note in my inbox, I’ll definitely respond to them if you have some questions or want to ask for recommendations. I’ll be happy to get back.

Dr. Sharp: That sounds great.

Well, just one more time. Thanks again. This is a lot of fun.

Natasha: Thank you, Jeremy. It was a lot of fun indeed.

Dr. Sharp: Thank you so [01:11:00] much for checking out this episode. There are plenty of links in the show notes for software that we mentioned and Natasha’s website and contact info, of course. So check out her stuff. She is a really dynamic individual with a mind for systems as you can tell. So I hope that you found this useful and are taking away a couple of tips. I know that I am.

Like I said at the beginning, if you are interested in a group coaching experience that will provide some accountability and support as you grow your practice beyond that basic level, The Testing Psychologist Advanced Practice mastermind Might be for you. So you can get more information at thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced. We will be starting in less than two months now. So June 10th is the date. I would love for you to reach out and let’s see if [01:12:00] it’s a good fit. We’ll get it on your summer calendar. It’s a great time to set some goals and work on some things in your practice.

Okay. Take care, everyone. I will talk to you next time.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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