Kimberly blogs at Scanlonspeech.com. She has excellent posts on how to encourage language and speech development in young children.
One thing I'm always trying to do is get more organized. I love her practical suggestions for how you can increase your productivity during the next school year!
Twice a year I feel particularly motivated to do more and be better. Usually, it’s at the start of a new year and at the end of the summer when school’s about to begin. Even though I haven’t worked in a school district for about 3 years and don’t have any children in school, this change in season from relaxing vacation mood to eager beaver school mode is the perfect time for me to renew, refresh and get things done! Here are 5 ways to help us be more productive! Let’s get started.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (or File Away) Your Clutter.
Clutter is distracting and reduces your productivity. Since I’ve had a child, I’ve fallen into a VERY bad habit of cluttering my home office desk with paper. My mentality is, “Oh, I’ll get to it later.” When later finally rolls around and I’m looking for a bill to pay or an article to read, it takes twice as long to locate. Hence, I’ve tried to make every effort to reduce (throw out!), reuse (“Can I do anything else with these cardboard boxes from Amazon?”), recycle (donate) and file away all those papers. In my home office, I have started to:
· Throw out junk mail or brochures that I’m not going to read
· Set up automatic bill pay and or pay bills immediately
· File away papers or articles that I need or want to read. One day, I hope to make my organizational system prettier, but if it’s working, why tinker? These relatively inexpensive file organizers from Staples work well for me:
I store all my speech therapy toys, products, and materials at my work office. Since I like to buy new “speech stuff” more often than I like to admit, I have vowed to go through all my materials at least twice a year. I recycle (donate) any speech therapy games, toys, or materials that I have not used in several months. Rotating my toys and games is also beneficial because it encourages me to use everything that I have. Kim Rowe of Little Stories has written a fantastic blog post on How to Rotate Toys.
A general rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used something in 6 months to a year, than you probably won’t. Reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to better productivity!
1. Keep it Simple.
Keeping it simple saves you time. Several years ago, when I was going through a “get yourself organized” phase (like I said, I have these episodes about twice a year), I took a trip to the awe-inspiring – Container Store. If you know this store, you’re aware that it’s probably one of the most over-priced but well-marketed stores - EVER. It’s folks like me who end up with a shopping cart loaded with stuff within 5 minutes. For one reason or another, I thought it was a fantastic idea to organize my sock drawer with one of these fancy sock section apparatuses – looks something like this:
What a waste of time. Carefully stowing my socks in each square after doing the laundry was painstakingly slow. It took much longer to put the socks away then it did to find them. So, I recycled it.
Lesson learned – Devise a simple organizational system that maintaining is not going to be too time consuming, stressful, or involved. Make commonly used items easily accessible and visible. For me, this means keeping the articulation books on the top stack of my workbooks and keeping the less frequently used ones on the bottom.
1. Take the 5 minute challenge.
Sometimes just starting something is the hardest part. I feel this way about working out. If you have a report to write, a score to test, or other tasks to do but keep putting them off, take the 5 minute challenge. Set a timer and START. Tell yourself, “I’m only going to work on it for 5 minutes.” This will give you that incentive to start. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in just 5 minutes. But more importantly, many times once you start an odious task and your juices are flowing, you’re more likely to continue working past the 5 minutes.
1. Have specific, measurable goals
As SLPs we’re great at writing goals and objectives. Why not write some for ourselves? When you have a huge task to accomplish or a long term goal to achieve, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The only way you’re going to complete big projects is to break it down into smaller steps. Similar to how we write our speech and language goals make yours specific, measurable and realistic. For instance, if you have a tedious report to write, try the following:
· Will score 1 or 2 standardized tests before lunch
· Will record all the relevant case history/background information during homeroom
· Will complete the classroom observation section during my break
· Will proofread while I wait for Johnny to come for speech
Not a speech therapist? Rather, you’re a mom who has a house to clean and a party to plan? How about:
· Will fold the laundry while Sandy plays in her playroom
· Will order (or, oh gosh start to prepare?) the food for Bella’s party while she is taking her nap
· Will respond to 3 emails while I sip my coffee (this one’s my favorite!)
· Will wash the dishes before I leave to pick up Ben from school
Can you think of more? Please comment below!
1. Be present in the moment.
The best time saving tip I can share is one that accidently presented itself to me. While taking my daughter for an afternoon walk, I selfishly decided to quickly “check” Facebook via the app on my iPhone 4s. You guessed it. I was juggling too many things and dropped my phone. The screen cracked. Bye bye 4s and hello 5 (FYI – there’s not much of a difference). Since I’m not tech savvy, I haven’t transferred over all my apps onto my new phone. Yes, that includes also those nifty social media apps for Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. I no longer have instant access to check my social media. This has been a blessing in disguise. I’m significantly less inclined to randomly check status updates. This in turn has improved my productivity but more importantly allowed me to enjoy being in the present. If you’re getting obsessed and distracted by social media, delete the apps on your phone! Need more motivation, read these posts:
I hope these strategies help you. Best of luck in the new school year!
Kimberly Scanlon, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist practicing in Bergen County, NJ. In addition to running a small private practice, Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLC, she is a devoted mom, wife and dog lover. She blogs over at www.scanlonspeech.com and www.mytoddlertalks.com. Recently, she published her first book My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development and has started her second.