Now that we’re launched into the New Year, how are you doing with setting priorities, new intentions, and habits? Have you found ways to prioritize your own care while striving to help others? Have you pinpointed any changes you’d like to make at work or at home? Are you utilizing your 20/20 vision in the 2020 New Year with getting and staying organized?
One habit I’ve found especially useful is to establish what’s most important each workday. It’s typical to face an array of daily tasks, big and small, urgent and less so. One way to keep your work on schedule is to create a to-do list with specific priorities.
Let’s say your workload looks like this: student assessments to write plus prep work for an IEP, a therapy session, and a parent training. Before starting on these, write down each task you want to accomplish that day, placing the tasks into one of these three categories:
- must get it done today
- prefer to get it done today
- okay to do tomorrow.
You can modify these categories in any way that works for you. For example, the article by SUCCESS.com, Organize Your To-Do List into These 4 Categories, offers an alternative way to organize tasks using the categories: do immediately, delegate, drop, or defer.
When we think about getting organized, it can feel overwhelming when we have so much to do yet so little time. We may not know where to start and then end up spending our precious time getting organized only to finally start crossing things off our “To Do” lists.
Our therapists at Communication Works utilize our “Life Savor” Schedule to help compartmentalize our weekly tasks. We started thinking about scheduling our open time after the students leave and have found it extremely helpful to actually look at your weekly schedule and designate a day for each weekly task. For example, every week on Mondays a therapist will spend the time after students leave prepping annuals for the upcoming week. On Tuesdays, they will spend that chunk of time after students leave checking in with teachers who wrote referrals and calling parents to schedule meetings. We start to form these habits to get our work completed each week without feeling lost in a pile of work. Of course, regardless of what is on the Life Savor Schedule, emails will be checked daily and phone calls will be returned.
If you keep your list in front of you, it will be easier to focus on the must-do items. Then you can let the other tasks go until you are ready for them. Checking off tasks as you finish them will keep you on track and provide a sense of satisfaction.
Don’t Get Hijacked
Once you’ve created your list and are hard at work, you may be interrupted by a phone call, text, or unexpected visit from a colleague. Try to immediately assess where the interruption falls on your priority list. Do you need to deal with it immediately? Or can it wait?
Once you make this decision, revise your to-do list as needed. You may have to revise your list multiple times a day to keep up with frequent interruptions.
Systems and Tiny Habits
To create a better flow and less stress during the workday, it’s helpful to develop your own systems for getting work done. The article, Atomic Habits by James Clear by Sam Thomas Davis, delves into ways for creating small routines or “atomic habits” that have powerful effects over time. Keeping and revising a to-do list is a good example of a small change that can have a big impact on your work life.
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Article by Elizabeth Sautter, M.A., CCC-SLP – Speech Language Pathologist & Executive Director of Communication Works
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