My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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Private Practice Tools & Apps

When I first started PorrazzaNutrition, I did a lot via paper (i.e. my accounting, charting, etc) and I soon realized just how many files I was accumulating. Over the past couple of years, I have implemented a few systems/applications in my practice and I have complied a list of just some of them for you today. There are tons of competing products/services on the market; however, these were ones I have used personally and were satisfied with. This is not a sponsored post and I do not work for any of the companies featured below.

Organization
Trello– I have just started using this free app/site and it is awesome for individuals and teams! I love that you can create different boards (topics) and lists. I used for long-term lists and also for some of the committees I am on. I also use the boards as ideas for my blogs and then I list out talking points. It is great for me when I am not able to sit down and write on paper.
Google Drive- If you have not used GD, start now! You get a ton of free storage! I store informational sheets, blank assessment forms, and documents that I use most often on-the-go. It is way better than storing a ton of stuff on my laptop and then only being able to access if I am on it. I use GD a lot for committees I am on. It is easier to share a folder with the minutes than emailing documents back and forth every month.
Tools for Wisdom Planner– I am totally still a pen-and-paper planner person. I tried using an online calendar and hated it! I like crossing things out and being able to flip through the months with a paper planner. I am super picky about my planners and will spend hours trying to find a good one each year (haha). I currently use the Tools for Wisdom since I specifically wanted a planner with a month view plus the days in columns with an hour-by-hour format. The pages are thick enough that highlighters do not bleed through (I am a color coding queen). I might switch up again for next year since this does not include any 2018 months. I am totally open to suggestions here!

Accounting – Quickbooks
When I first began my practice, I didn’t have a ton of income/expenses so I just tracked using ledger sheets. After about 2 years, I started looking around and Quickbooks came up a lot. It is super simple to use and cheap (I pay $5.30/month). You can save different transactions for the future so they are automatically categorized as they come in. I use the app a lot on-the-go, especially since you can scan in receipts. I still use a separate accounting sheet to track unpaid classes or checks that have not been cashed yet. It definitely makes tax season a lot simpler since you can just import your information from Quickbooks without having to enter in everything manually.

Media
Dropbox– I have the Dropbox app on my phone and computers and it makes it really easy to upload files or pictures. I take a ton of photos and it syncs automatically with my computer where I can then move them to an external hard-drive or save to my photos.
-Canva– Awesome for designing posts for social media, blogs, etc. So many free images/templates.
Pixabay–  Royalty free pictures. I take a lot more of my own photos now; however, this was really helpful for me initially.
Snapseed– Free app for editing photos. One of the best I have used so far.
Tiny Scanner– Free app that functions as a portable scanner. Your scans can be saved as a PDF or an image. I have the free version and just delete the scans once they are uploaded to where they need to be. Really useful for scanning large documents especially if you are out or don’t have a scanner at home (mine is a bit temperamental).

Newsletters – MailChimp
I use MailChimp for my bi-monthly newsletters. I also embedded a sign-up form on my website (GoDaddy) that links to my account. I like being able to embed newsletters in emails and then track the statistics after each email blast. I use the free version for my practice and have not felt the need to upgrade further yet.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, this is not a complete list of every tool/app I use in practice; however, it does include my main ones. I will be posting another blog to include my counseling/billing resources too!

I am always open to suggestions for tools, so leave a comment and let me know what types of software or applications that you use that have made your business life that much more productive (or simpler).


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Balancing Work & Personal Life

Happy Saturday! This is going to be a bit shorter of a post since I have a ton of cooking to do for Easter tomorrow. I am making about 70% of the menu this year, which I am so happy about, since it was a slow process getting my whole family interested in healthier meals/sides.

The past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to reflect on how one-sided my life felt in terms of balance. I felt like I was always working and just squeezed in time for myself or my family. I still wasn’t working on the things that I had set goals for (like writing an e-book or creating Podcasts) and I really needed to make that change. I had a few family issues this week (all resolved) that made me appreciate the fact that I have a private practice and do have flexibility. I did realize that my time still needed to be adjusted for a more optimal day-to-day routine. So, with that being said, this post brings to you my top 3 tips/lessons for having a more balanced work and personal life.

1. Set (and Keep) Boundaries for Yourself
I am the worst at keeping my boundaries. I will say to myself that Tuesday I am not booking clients so I can work on x-y-z. Then, a client comes along needing an appointment and I say, “Hey, what’s an hour?” The reality is that the 1-hour appointment also includes travel time + prep + post work (billing, report writing, etc) and can really break the concentration I had going for the day. I now schedule in my calendar the days where I don’t see clients and I stick to it. Setting boundaries also means not checking emails or your phone constantly. I no longer answer emails after 8pm, unless it has been a late day for me. I always think to myself that, “It can wait, or they would call.” If not, I end up checking the email, spending the time to respond or react in some way and ultimately it feels like my work day is just dragging on and well into my personal time.

2. Schedule It
Going along with keeping boundaries, use your calendar to schedule when you are doing personal things. I planned out the days I would go to the gym and when I would be gardening. I also set days for office-work for my business and times when I would work on content creation. This could mean seeing clients on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays and also teaching classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It could mean Tuesdays are when I garden and spend time doing personal things. It could mean Fridays are office-work days where I follow-up on billing issues, work on social media, etc. At first I had the thought that my life was so planned it leaves no wiggle room; however, I discovered that by setting aside the time initially, I had more freedom and flexibility.

3. Don’t Overbook Yourself
When I first started my practice full-time, I just wanted to get as many clients scheduled as I possibly could. After realizing that I wasn’t spending time on furthering my practice, I began to cut back on my workload and space it out a bit more. If I overbook, I end up stressed out and really just not at my prime. Not overbooking yourself ties right into keeping the boundaries you set. If I lose a client because I can’t see them in 2 weeks, then so be it. It rarely has happened that someone doesn’t want to wait for an appointment; however, I know for my sanity and stress level that cramming in an appointment isn’t good for me. Usually, those cram-in appointments take the place of the time I wanted to go to the gym or time I wanted to create something. In the long-term, it isn’t worth it. In my last blog post, you can read all about how I have been striving to reform my practice to allow for more flexibility while maintaining income in the long-term.

In the end, the reason I am so busy is due to my own fault in over scheduling and plain overbooking myself. I no longer want to be so busy that I can’t enjoy the things I love like gardening or spending time with my family or cooking. So, my personal commitment is to streamline my business and tasks that go along with it to be able to have the optimal work-life balance for me.

Leave a comment and let me know what your tips/strategies are for keeping your work and personal life in balance.


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4-Month Practice Recap – Self-Employed Vs. Employee

This blog post was originally going to be all about setting income goals and figuring out billable hours; however, as I approach my 4-month self-employed, private practice milestone, I had something different I wanted to share first. This revolves around mainly how I left a “9-5” employee job for a 9-7 if not 8-7 self-employed private practice. Was it worth it? Of course and I would do it again; however, I did come to realize a few things this past month that are going to redefine how I do business in the future.

When I first thought about private practice, I didn’t think it would end up being something full-time. Sure, I would have absolutely loved to just be doing my practice; however, I just didn’t see that as being realistic. I was certain I needed the traditional path of jobs to be successful. After a few years, I began to see that full-time private practice was definitely realistic and coming faster than I had imagined. Now, let’s flash-forward to when I was deciding to leave my full-time employee job. I debated with myself A LOT in the months leading up to my quitting. Would I make enough money? Would I actually like what I was doing? Would I get overwhelmed? I was someone who was ingrained with the idea of making money and saving for a future. Not that this was at all a bad thing, but I was fearful that I wouldn’t be saving and would instead drain the savings I had been building for years.

With those thoughts in the back of my mind, I still quit my job and was quite successful being a private practice business owner. My income surpassed what I was making being an employee, I was flexible enough to be able to spend time with my family whenever needed, and I loved being able to choose what I was doing. So, this doesn’t seem so bad at all, right? To be honest, my success was largely due to stretching myself beyond capacity, taking paying gigs whenever possible (even if they were at lower rates than I wanted) and seeing clients even on the days when I wanted to just focus on office work. I wasn’t spending time on creating products for my lesson plan store. I wasn’t spending time on making YouTube videos. I wasn’t spending time on writing a book. I was just working to make money (and of course because I truly like what I do). It was at this point that I realized that I couldn’t add more to my schedule because the time just simply wasn’t there. I also wasn’t adding in the pieces of my business that would be a source of passive income, thus lightening up my day-to-day workload. I was still bound to certain time constraints for classes or counseling for income and low and behold, that cut my flexibility in half.

After a long chat with my beyond supportive boyfriend, I set goals for myself to cut the fat out of my business. My time was more valuable than what I was being paid for some classes and that needed to change. I also needed to actually set and stick to a schedule where I would only see clients and have classes on certain days. I stopped trying to join various committees and groups to network or invest my time in (for free). I stuck with the organizations I was already in and set boundaries for myself as to how involved I would be. I needed to block off time for content/product/program creation. I refused to be a slave to my own business anymore.

So, why I am I sharing all this with you? Well, for me, the easier route in private practice was to just go out and make that quick money. It was the instant gratification and certainly short-term. What was harder was investing (or starting to invest) my time into what would turn into a long-term income source. This long-term income source would free up more of my time so I could actually enjoy being self-employed. I could get back to more of my hobbies without feeling guilty that I wasn’t working on the business. I could spend more time with my family without bringing work along. I could invest more time in personal development and enhancing my skills as a Dietitian. The positive side of this was simply endless.

If you ever get to this point in your practice, think to yourself what you truly want in being self-employed. Do you want to work like crazy for the goal of not having a boss or company telling you what to do or do you want to have more flexibility in what you do on the day-to-day, while still making money through passive income sources? Once you think about what your long-term goal is, break it down to determine short-term goals and plan your schedule around that. It is so easy to get sucked into the work and make money thought process; however, this process can be simplified, streamlined, and more so minimized to create more time for yourself. In the end, isn’t that what we all want…more time?

To sum up this lengthy blog post, I want to say that when I think about my future, I want that future to include more time for myself, my family, and eventually my kids (I don’t have any now). I don’t want to be forced into 8 or 10 hour workdays to make enough money, even if it is on my own terms. This post is by no means me saying that if you want the traditional private practice that it is in some way less ideal or wrong for you. The beautiful thing about private practice is that YOU can create the type of business structure that will suite YOUR needs above anybody else.

So, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this topic. What does your ideal private practice look like? What does your ideal workweek entail?

Stay tuned next week where I will be sharing my thoughts on how to set income goals and defining billable hours!


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Private Practice Tip: Thinking of Your Big Picture

After my last two blog posts, I found myself thinking a lot about where I wanted my practice to be in the next few years. Although I am still working out the details, I finally have a clear picture of what I envision for PorrazzaNutrition. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone reading this, whether you have a private practice or not, to really brainstorm your ideal set-up. Do you want to niche down in a certain area of your field? Do you want this to be a full-time role or just something you will do on the side? Do you want to take insurance? Do you want to have a virtual component? Questions like these can help you to see the big picture and give you a sense of direction.

I hear so many dietitians say to me that they want to have their own practice, but most don’t have a clue as to what they want to do with it. While that may not be a bad thing, I realized, for myself, that having little sense of direction can be paralyzing. We often do nothing when faced with too much unknown. Having that big picture in mind will allow you to focus your efforts towards a path that will help you to reach your goal. I have been asking myself this question a lot –> “Are the things you are doing now, supporting your end goal?” If the answer is yes, I keep investing my time in that area. If the answer is no, I think to myself if this is something I need to stop doing or spending less time on.

Once you have an idea of what you want your practice to entail, think about your action steps. An idea or knowledge is great, but it is what you actually do that matters. Let’s say you want your practice to be able to accept insurance to drive more clientele while first starting out. Some of your action steps may be: 1. Gain an NPI, 2. Gain a Federal Tax ID Number , 3. Fill out a CAQH application, 4. Send in provider inquiries or initial applications for each insurance company, etc. Prioritize your goals! No matter how big your end result (goal) is, make it manageable and less intimidating by breaking it down into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks.

This week, I also made a commitment to myself that I would not buy or read another business-related book until I took action. While these personal/business-development books are really awesome and provide a lot of great information, the information means nothing unless you actually use it. Instead of just taking notes and moving on to the next book, I create actionable steps for the knowledge I gain in any capacity to use either that day, or that week.

For all my readers out there (whether you are dietitians or not), I challenge you to think about your ‘big picture” or “end goal.” What does that really look like and how can you break it down into small and manageable steps? Leave a comment and let me know what YOUR journey looks like.

Check out my first week in Private Practice HERE or my last post about organization HERE


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Private Practice Tips: Organization & Prioritizing

I was recently approached by a fellow Dietitian and friend of mine about how I stay organized and prioritize my time. The organizational side of it seemed like a no-brainer for me to comment on. I have always been “highly organized” (as some would say) since I carried my planner everywhere and when opened it was an array of colors, each meaning something different. Being in full-time private practice, I realized my method of keeping organized was still efficient, but, not as effective for managing my time properly and ultimately prioritizing things daily.

Now, I am definitely one for list making. I will go as far as adding “shower” or “eat”, which some find hilarious that I even need to put those things on a list. Making a daily list is a great idea; however, I find it best to break down my priorities for business and personal health. When I would just write down everything I needed to do on a list, I would often not accomplish what I wanted (no surprise there). I also found that important tasks were getting pushed to later in the week. The unrealistic expectation I put on myself was actually making me feel less productive (see more on this from Week 1 of my Private Practice).

Honestly, if you still like the pen and paper method, which I love, getting yourself a good planner is the first place to start. The planner I have now allows space for you to set monthly and weekly goals/tasks. I usually put a bunch of ideas and goals on there sporadically and then take the time daily to break down my weekly tasks into daily priorities. I usually set 3-5 daily priorities for myself (as related to my business) and this widely varies based on what clients/classes I have scheduled. I also set personal/health goals for the day, which are always a priority. These personal/health goals usually involve things like exercise* and meal prep. Since my planner has space for me to write out weekly tasks, my daily goal is to take 1-3 items from that master list that isn’t a priority for the day and get it done.

When thinking about prioritizing my daily tasks, I had to think to myself, “What am I doing out of habit?” Often, we do things without even realizing and they end up being a huge time sink. One thing I had to change when prioritizing, was checking my email every time my phone went off. I now limit this to about 3 times per day. Think to yourself what are you doing now that can be changed, eliminated, or simplified to allow more time for your priorities.

With making a priority list for the day, remember not to overbook yourself. If you are stretched to the max, the quality of your interactions can suffer. Also, don’t continue adding to your list if you find yourself with more time to spare. Use that time to do something else you enjoy (hang with a friend, go for a walk, play an instrument, etc). I often felt like if I was done everything by 3pm, I still needed to do more after that. I mean, don’t business owners work all hours of the day?! It was hard for me to get used to the idea that I didn’t need to put in 10-12 hour days anymore and if I did, it was for a particular reason and not my status quo.

Last point I have for you with organization and prioritizing is to be okay with having to re-prioritize your list. I woke up one morning and realized that my WordPress “about me” section was from 4-years ago. Turns out that when I updated my “about me” I only did it for the one page and not the other…oops. That instantly became my priority for the day. I ended up spending about 2 hours redoing my WordPress layout. The next day, I ended up spending 3 hours updating my “services” page on my website. This replaced the time I was going to spend following up with potential partnerships. Was it a good choice? Definitely. A lot of businesses will go directly to my website to find out what I do, especially if I just reached out to them for a potential partnership proposal, so having a well polished website is crucial.

I hope this helps you to organize your business (or daily habits) to be more effective and efficient. Leave a comment about how this has helped you or let me know you tips for staying organized!

**Just a side note here. As a Dietitian, I talk about exercise with my clients for the various health benefits; however, I make it a priority for my daily business life because I find that it helps me to recharge, clear my mind, and just feel better overall. I usually aim for a short, 15-minute, workout daily and a 45-minute workout 4 times per week. I also try and get up every hour from my computer to walk around my apartment. Your workout schedule can be quite different from this and my routine is not an indicator of any “gold standard” approach. 


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My First Week in Full-Time Private Practice

Well, I have officially made it through my first week in full-time private practice! It felt so odd to say to people that I was my own boss. It felt even weirder to not have to go to one facility (my full-time job) for 40 hours/week. It felt totally different for me to JUST do my practice and not juggle it with my full-time gig. I would see clients here or there and chunk everything I needed to follow-up on (insurance claims, billing, etc) on my days off. It felt good to just focus my time and energy on my practice for once.

I was lucky to have an intern with me for my first week. She was with me during my full-time job and still has 2 weeks left to go during her dietetic internship. I love having interns; however, I especially loved having this one since she was able to be apart of my transition to full-time private practice (also, she’s pretty awesome). Since I work out of my home, there was always the want to stop what I was doing to do the dishes or various house chores. I felt like having an intern with me really pushed me to be productive in the hours of the day that she was there. Once she moves on to her clinical rotation, I am planning to translate this type of work schedule into my own. I want to set up “hours” I am working and really stick to it. Everything else can wait!

After my first week, I started to think more on what kind of schedule I wanted to build for myself. While I don’t have an exact plan just yet, I do know that I want to keep 3-4 days of clients/classes and at least one full day dedicated to insurance calls and office type work. I already know the days that I see clients back-to-back that I don’t get much else done on the back end of things.

One huge thing I realized this week is just how much my email/notifications are distractions! Every time my phone went off, I checked the email in case I needed to respond. This was a huge concentration breaker. I took some advice from friends/family/books and set aside windows of time where I would answer emails. Usually, I check email in the AM, mid-day, and at night (7pm or so). I want to cut this back to twice per day instead. I find I am way more productive if I focus on one task at a time instead of just switching back and forth. This has been harder to stick with than I thought, but turning my sound off on my phone really helped!

One last thing I learned from my first week was that I needed to prioritize and not overbook myself. I would stick 15-20 items on my list to do for the day and only end up getting to maybe 10-15 of them. I would never know how long I would be on hold with an insurance company for a claim status, or what questions my intern would ask, or what phone calls came in. Though I would get a lot accomplished, I still was bummed I couldn’t do EVERYTHING. Honestly, that is so unrealistic! Not only am I putting undue pressure on myself, but I am also making my daily goals ones that I know I won’t reach. For this week, I decided to make a priority list and a to-do list. My goal was to complete the priority list and if possible do 1-2 items on the to-do list. This was way more manageable and I felt more accomplished at the end of the day.

I have been keeping a journal of everything I have learned thus far, so each week I will share with you my tips, tricks, slip-ups, and more!