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  • Writer's pictureAmber McCormack

The One Hack for Therapists & Counsellors to Improve Efficiency

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Introducing the Ivy Lee Method!

An uber-successful, simple and easy-to-implement method for all private practice Counsellors, Therapists and Animal-Assisted Practitioners!

It's a 100-year-old productivity hack... that actually works!

Basically, Ivy Lee tells you to focus on one task at a time, going from most important to least important, until you've accomplished your whole list. Any unfinished business should be moved to the next day's list of tasks. No, it's not sexy, but it certainly works!

NOTE: Ivy Lee's method stated 6 tasks per day as a maximum. However, you will be trying to work around client sessions so 6 is simply unattainable. For the majority of Counsellors and Therapists, I recommend a max of 3 critical tasks per day.

If you’ve ever tried to keep on top of your 'To-Do' list, then you already know that your list becomes never-ending, life and work get in the way, and you feel discouraged when you can't cross everything off. Then... you give up.

I get it! I'm a productivity/time management Queen (as a business owner with 3 kidlets under 4, I have to be!) and even I can't finish off a regular to-do list. So, if this has happened to you before, please know you’re not alone. It’s probably one of the most common issues with running a business, and a household.

The good news is that there IS an alternative. All you have to do is pick your top 3-6 tasks! (I recommend 3 as the ideal number for service providers. Any more and you simply won't have time around your client sessions).

Let me explain…

Most people tell you to write a list, prioritise and tick each task off as you go. Simple right? But let's be honest, what usually happens is the list grows beyond all reason, and it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to complete. That’s because you're working on the wrong tasks!

Don't panic! The Ivy Lee method is here to help! (plus a little extra from me).

Here's what I want you to do when your to-do list becomes too much...

First, stop what you're doing... Then follow these 7 Steps.

Step 1. Write another to-do list (hear me out...) with EVERYTHING on it. Make it HUGE! Make sure everything you do for your business, for your family, life admin, health appointments, chores ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING is on that list...Personally, I break this up into categories (Business, Family, Health), but that's totally optional.

Step 2. Now, go through the entire list (I do this per category) and highlight the critical tasks. The ones that actually help you reach your goals (whether business or personal) and be RUTHLESS!

Step 3. Go through those highlighted, critical tasks and ask:

"Will completing this task take me closer to my goal of [specific goal]?"

If 'No' - remove it from your critical task list

If 'Yes', ask yourself:

"Is this something that needs MY personal expertise?"

If 'No' - take it off YOUR critical list, and mark it to be delegated

If 'Yes', ask yourself:

"Is this something I could outsource for a lower cost if I give them detailed/step-by-step instructions?"

If 'No' - Congratulations, this is a task that IS critical and IS worth your time. Add it to your real/daily task list.

If 'Yes' - take it off YOUR critical list, and mark it to be delegated with a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

Step 4. Continue this process until every item on your complete To-Do list has been prioritised.

Step 5. Once you have your High Value/High Gain tasks identified. Take the most critical 3-6 tasks (maximum) and add them to your 'to do' list for tomorrow... ONLY invest your time on those 3-6 tasks.

Step 6. At the end of the day, move any unfinished task/s to the next days 'to do' list and add the next high value/high gain tasks (max 6)

Step 7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 daily.

Why does this work so well?

  • It's simple, just pick the most critical tasks, and work on them one by one.

  • It forces you to make tough decisions, and use your time most effectively.

  • It removes the overwhelm of not knowing where to start... sometimes, that is the hardest part.

  • It makes you focus on one single task to completion (which on its own makes you more productive and efficient).

  • By using these questions to prioritise your task list, you are effectively also writing a delegation list! You can easily see what tasks you NEED to complete, and which ones you can delegate/outsource.

Give it a try as soon as possible to see if this simple method works for you too!

For 13 additional time-saving techniques that WORK, download the Hack Your Time: Checklist. Designed for Equine-assisted therapists, these methods will work for any mental health professional running their own private practice.

If you need access, you can grab it here: Hack Your Time: Checklist

With that being said, chasing your private practice dreams can be challenging, but with the right plan in place, and people around you, you too can reach your business goals, spend time with friends and family guilt-free and love your private practice again.

So, if you're ready to outsource your practice management or need help creating a strategy to reach your dreams, book a Discovery Call. You'll be surprised by what IVY Business Services can offer.

Talk soon,


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Amber McCormack is an Online Practice Manager and Business Coach as well as the CEO

and Founder of IVY Business Services. She is an avid mental health advocate, wife, and mother to three young girls. Amber specialises in supporting mental health professionals, with a particular interest in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapies. Her passion is helping her clients reach their goals in life and business with her honest, no-nonsense approach. Amber has over 20 years of corporate administration experience and holds qualifications in Management, Project Management and Recordkeeping.


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