Time blocking is a strategy for using your time intentionally and efficiently. An SLP's day is already pretty structured with direct services, which makes it extra important to use what little time remains (for the rest of our duties) well. Below are some tips for using time blocking to improve your productivity:
- Schedule everything. Identify all of the tasks you need to complete in a day, week, month, and year. Prioritize the tasks and schedule them. Even schedule time for planning and reorganizing as needed. If you don't schedule everything into your work week, it can easily spill into your non-work time.
- Don't multitask. A block of time should be dedicated to a single task, and anything else is considered to be a distraction from that goal during that block.
- Consider whether your blocks will be task based or time based. For example, if you have 2 different 1 hour blocks during the day (yeah right, lolz...) you can dedicate the first hour to one task and the second hour to another task, or you can dedicate them both to the top priority task. This all depends on your project pipeline and what will work best for you. Consider adding some novelty by getting a cool hourglass to help keep yourself on schedule (and be careful of phone timers that could lead to other distractions - if you see that you go a text message you might want to check it...).
The objective of minimalism, or essentialism, is basically to do more with less. You pare down your possessions to the essentials, thus eliminating the inessentials. While some people turn this into a strict lifestyle, I think there are less extreme but still helpful ways to incorporate the concept into the therapy room.
The obvious one is letting go of the things that you don't use. Whether your office has been yours alone or is the product of many therapists over the years, time leads to the accrual of "stuff". I doubt any person could go through their office and not find at least one thing that they no longer use, or maybe they didn't even know/remember was there. Chances are there are more than a few things that you could stand to donate. *While making tough decisions about what to keep, I'd advoate for erring on the side of minimalism - there are very few things that you could not replace if you find down the line that it really was an essienial (seriously, unless it is as hard to find as Cariboo, let it go).
In addition to removing "stuff" liberally, a key to making minimalism stustainable is making sure that you have the items that are necessary. *In a minimalism lifestyle example - if you get rid of all but 3 pairs of jeans, but you hate the three you have (or they don't fit well) you probably won't be content with wearing only them for the next year. If, however, the 3 paris of jeans are ones that you absolutely love wearing, you will probably be able to manage without additional options. Invest in the essentials that will make minimalism successful for you. By frontloading some of your planning and making strategic choices in your materials, you will hopefully be able to simplify your day to day while maximizing your overall productivity.
The last way that I am intending to use minimalism to rock 2017 is more abstract and pertains to commitments rather than physical things. Ambition is inarguably good and important, but you have to keep the big picture in mind. By applying minimalism to certain projects, I am hoping to accomplish more and reduce stress. For example, it is important to me that I make regular posts on the blog this year, but I am going to set my goal at one per month. I think that is a goal I can follow through with, and hopfully I can use my extra time from the slower months to help me suceed in the busier months. It is not an overwhelming goal, and ultimately should yield better results than last year (less, as they say, is more).
The Two-Minute Rule
The idea here is to keep a running list of small tasks. When you have a spare moment, look to your list for something you can knock out quickly. Two minutes is generally not enought time for a good break or to compete most tasks, so these in between moments tend to be wasted. The list is a critical part of making this strategy effective. Since most of these two-minute blocks are unexpected, trying to come up with a task in the moment can eat up the opportunitiy. By being prepared and utilizing these small "time pockets" that occur throughout the day, at the end of the day/week/month/year, you will hopefully have gotten more done, and saved your big chunks of time for more invovled jobs. Examples of items on my two-minute task list are: replacing dead batteries; filing 10 pieces of paper; checking and restocking go-to document files (like blank notes pages, or data trackers); throwing trash out of my purse or laptop bag; re-organizing my pens or office supply drawer.
The Acorn Analogy
This is a story that I heard years ago, and I find it to be a good reminder from time to time. I don't remember where I heard it - it was either a video or something I heard on NPR. I don't even remember if it was a man or a woman. But this person who told the story, we'll say he, was going through something pretty traumatic. He was feeling overwhelmed by the difficulties he was facing and found himslef distrought, sitting on a bench in a park. Nearby, he noticed a squirrel who had amassed an enormous pile of acorns at the base of a tree. The man watched as the animal came out of his burrow in the tree, climed cautiously down the trunk, picked up an acorn, tedously carried it back up the tree, and disappeared into the hole. The squirrel did this over and over again. Each trip seemed like an exausting amount of work just to gain one measly acorn. Eventually though, the pile of acorns was gone. To the man, this was an illustration that the way to deal with the problems he was facing was just like the squirrel handled hers - one acorn at a time. Especially during stressful times, it's easy to find yourself focusing on the impossible problem (there was no way the squirrell could have gotten the entire pile up in one trip) and not the small things that need to be done. So in 2017, when I find that there is too much on my plate, my strategy will be to try to focus on the acorns - the things I can do to - and not the daunting pile.
Strategy (noun). A careful plan or method ~ Marriam-Webster