Creating good online boundaries is essential
5 MINUTE READ
As Christians, we are called to steward all our resources well, including our time, money, energy, and priorities. We are to consider the brevity of life and be purposeful about how we spend each hour. This really helps to keep things in perspective!
“So, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
As a private occupational therapy (OT) practice, we serve by offering multiple programs and streams:
- face-to-face therapy for local children and families,
- clinical supervision of OTs,
- online group mentorship mastermind programs, and
- online training.
Keeping so many balls in the air means that we need to steward our time wisely. Technology enables us to plan our workflow from day to day, month to month, and maintain good accounting systems.
Technology allows us to “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” (Colossians 4:5)
Without utilising these technological tools,
- our impact on our clients would be curtailed,
- we would not be able to run our variety of programs,
- I would not turn up for the right client or the right Zoom call or group coaching call at the right time,
- my team and I would not be able to coordinate and execute the vision and plan God has called us to do in business.
We are admonished to “Look carefully, then, at how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time”. (Ephesians 5:15).
“Look carefully” advises us to look around or research the app or program that works best for us; regularly review the features and costs of apps and subscriptions; upgrade features and subscription levels as our business grows to save time and energy; and be open to using new technology options. As much as we might love an app or program, we need to be ready to swap over when better programs are developed as an investment into our business and our stewardship of time.
Here are some pros and cons of using technology in providing healthcare both face-to-face and online.
- Technology increases business mobility. Using online and cloud-based solutions in business allows our team to be more mobile and flexible. An online clinical management system allows us to document and write notes at the home office, the clinic, or at a school after seeing a child. Notes can be typed; voice-to-text can be used while in transit between home-based sessions; or notes can be handwritten on an iPad in a handwriting-to-text converter app (eg. Nebo or Onenote) during a session to save time. Documents can be immediately saved to the cloud and backed up in case a device is lost, and my remote assistant (‘virtual assistant’ or ‘VA’’ in the industry) can access my clients’ files and send out forms to sign using Adobe Sign without leaving her home-based office.
- Technology enlarges the scope for sourcing talent for our remote team. Our team is spread across Australia and the world. This allows us to source subcontractors with specific skills that are necessary, and which may change from time to time as the business grows. My virtual office administrator lives in the same town as me and it’s great having her close for informal team catch-ups over breakfast at the beach. We have OT coaches who live in other states, and have sourced other tech and design staff from the Philippines and Portugal. The Aussie narrator and illustrator for my kids’ books lives in New Zealand.
How did we find these people without leaving home? Searching on service marketplace platforms, eg. Upwork and Fiverr, is a great place to start to build a team. Although it can be hit and miss sometimes, over time you can build a great team.
- Technology increases the level of efficiency and communication. Efficiency in our business is coordinated through technology. Task management software has been evolving with us as our needs change. We started with the Todoist app, changed to Basecamp and I’m currently in love with ClickUp. At each stage, my needs as a manager and entrepreneur have changed, and now with ClickUp, we have better visibility over our business projects and are clear about who’s doing what.
In bookkeeping, our Xero cloud-based accounting software has grown with us as we’ve transitioned from a sole trader to a company business model and it copes well with accepting both Australian and overseas currencies. For receiving payments, the team can set up automatic payments with Stripe for online sales or online memberships, and after consultations, our GoCardless mandates allow NDIS self-managed clients to have 7 days to pay, or it’s direct debited on day 7, again saving time for us and our clients.
- It can mean hiring new specialists. Introducing new technology means that we’re probably not the best person to make it all happen behind the scenes. This is a skill, and it takes wisdom to know when it’s fun and okay to potter around, or when it is better to just pay someone to “make it happen.” Again, there are many options for doing this, including posting a job on Upwork or similar online service marketplace.
- There are ongoing costs. Looking at a business, it is easier to calculate dollars coming in but more difficult to estimate behind-the-scenes costs. Most technology these days is well worth the expense, but it pays to examine the costs. Accounting systems, online storage (eg. Google Drive), monthly web-hosting fees, and Stripe or Paypal payment gateways all add up. Other costs can include paying staff to make the tech connections and integrations using technology such as Zapier behind the scenes (including setting it up and then maintaining it when it “breaks”).
Being a steward is not just embracing these technologies, but also includes creating a note in your task management system (eg. Click-Up or Asana) every 6 months to review each app or programme’s function AND cost.
- Security needs to be monitored. When you use online cloud-based solutions and other people are accessing your programs, you need good security in place. As a wise steward, you need to ask yourself some questions about your security needs. For example, should you upgrade your package (and increase your costs) to allow team members to have their own logins? This is particularly important when using Xero to track the invoices generated. In other cases, it might be appropriate to use LastPass, where you can safely share your password (with or without team members seeing it). Less critical sites might be fine using this solution, whereas a program such as Xero warrants the extra cost from a security perspective.
Technology is indispensable in business and life these days, but as with most things, we need to steward our time and priorities. The challenge for us all is how we can use technology to make wise time-use choices for the mission that God has placed on our particular heart, and the job he has for us alone? What technology can you implement to leverage your time?
And finally, what technology is distracting you from other things of greater value – not only fulfilling your God-given work task, but your God-given family task? Creating good boundaries around the time we spend online is essential – looking at emails or social media is definitely a temptation and can be as addictive for us as it is for children. Technology is a God-given tool, but beware making it a god in itself.
Deb Hopper Deb Hopper is an Occupational Therapist, Author, Mentor and Business Owner. As a Paediatric OT, it’s Deb's ambition to change the conversation about what a “difficult” child looks like and bring back the joy of parenting. She works with OTs, parents and educators to make sense of kids’ behaviour by providing easy-to-implement, hands-on strategies to transform struggling families and kids’ lives so they can thrive. www.lifeskills4kids.com.au