Session tracking methods

Lindsey Nicklies (SLP at Greathouse) shares:

After reading Sarah’s (on 9/13) post, I thought I would share how I track my therapy minutes now that the majority of them are on a monthly basis. I print this sheet at the beginning of each month and then either circle the minutes as I service them or mark them with A for absent.  Didn’t know if this would be useful for anyone else 🙂

monthly log example

Chapter 6-procrastination

Darcy Lanham shares:

…I have procrastinated doing this blog post. Why am I procrastination? How often am I procrastinating? Now I am thinking like the author.

“Meet Yourself… From the Future”. I have always observed myself doing this, putting more pressure on my “future self.” The role I take in this is committing to more than I can handle. I always think that I will be able to do more later on, because in the future I will have more time. In life, things happen. Something always comes up, plans change, and again I am overwhelmed. My mom always tells me, “I haven bitten off more than I can chew.” Whether it means starting a new project, volunteering for something with my kids, or just trying to get my to do list done, I still do not have any more time today than I had a month ago. I had a New Year’s Resolution two years ago to start saying, “No” more often and not feel guilty about it.

As a stereotype, Speech Therapists are over achievers. We want to do everything and be perfect at everything we do. I have gotten better at saying no, but I still feel guilty about it. It is tough in our field. We wear so many hats and have so many responsibilities beyond just seeing our kids for therapy. My advice to my CFY was: do not leave each day until your EdPlan logs are completed. You will not have any more time tomorrow and then you will be even more behind. It is a hard goal to dig yourself out of. I try to follow this advice, but am not 100% accurate.

I found the portion of this chapter that discusses MRI brain scans on two different people versus the same person in the present and in the future very interesting. The author found that “while the average participant’s brain scan of his or her present self and a stranger’s scan varied quite a bit, the participant’s brain scan of his or her future self and a total stranger’s scan was almost identical.” This makes me think just as I encourage my students to use their strategies; I need to use my strategies instead of thinking something will just magically become easier. In the challenge it states, “When you put something off or waste time, you’re almost always being unfair to your future self.” I like this perspective and will try to remember that next time I try to put something off

Chapter 5-Cozying up to Ugly Tasks

Lauren Taylor (SLP at Portland Elem and Western Middle) shares:

The concept behind this chapter is simple-the more aversive a task is, the more likely you are to put it off. Of course. But the author dives in (slightly) deeper, by acknowledging the more complicated aspects of the concept and describing them as a ‘battle’ in our brains between the limbic system (emotional, instinctual, ‘pleasure center’) and the prefrontal cortex (responsible for logic and reason). Every time we put off an undesirable task (progress monitoring logs, for example) for something more desirable (insert nearly ANYTHING here), our limbic system has taken the trophy. To combat this concept, the author offers up the 6 driving ‘triggers’ behind a task being aversive (it is boring, frustrating, difficult, unstructured or ambiguous, lacking in personal meaning, lacking in intrinsic rewards) and provides alternatives to ‘flip those triggers’, ‘regain control of your brain’ and make those not so desirable tasks become somewhat more appealing. The challenge is to do just that-and while I haven’t put it all in to practice yet, here’s what it could look like, using progress monitoring logs and writing IEPs with the new format as the tasks being avoided.

It’s boring. Make it more interesting by pairing it with something you find stimulating-like completing your logs at the park or the coffee shop while people watching with a latte.

It’s frustrating. Alternate it with something you enjoy and use a timer to switch between tasks. Do your logs for 20 minutes, then read/work a crossword puzzle/go for a walk or whatever it is you enjoy for an equal amount of time.

It’s difficult (I’m going to use writing IEP’s with the new format here because most things that require me to retrain my brain I consider somewhat difficult-at least at first). Research the process and gather all the information needed ahead of time to help you complete the task with more ease. Look back at your notes/cheat sheets/provided references and have them readily available in case you hit any road blocks as you begin writing your IEP.

It’s unstructured or ambiguous. Use all the provided resources to make a step by step, structured guide to writing IEPs in a format that you find more useful or helpful.

It’s lacking in personal meaning. While logs and writing IEPs don’t necessarily have personal meaning for us-getting them done as opposed to putting them off does allow us extra space in our brains and extra time to do things that are more meaningful to us.

It’s lacking in intrinsic reward. Think about how happy you will be when all of your colleagues are talking about the email they got from Melissa about being behind on their logs or not having baseline data on their IEP or including data points on objectives rather than annual goals-an email that will miss your inbox because you refused to procrastinate on doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. Now THAT’S an intrinsic reward.

Aside from ‘flipping the triggers’, the author offers three more ways to ‘regain control over your brain’. He recommends (1) creating a procrastination list of other meaningful tasks that you can work on while procrastinating those less desirable items, (2) listing the costs of putting something off, and (3) just get started-because we all know that sometimes that’s the hardest part.

Chapter 4 – Ready for Prime Time

After learning of the Rule of 3’s, the author places importance on observing how our energy fluctuates during the day so that we can address our top tasks during our Biological Prime Time. What is your Biological Prime Time (BPT)? Well, that is when you are most capable and when you bring the most energy and focus to a task. Many times we do not focus on our top priorities because of the way we choose to spend our time, attention or energy. So, here we are again, focusing on the 3 ingredients of productivity. In this chapter, Chris Bailey conducts research to measure his energy level and track how he spent his time and attention over the course of a day. He notes that every person is wired differently and therefore, it is essential for you to determine how your own biological clock is set to increase productivity. Are you an early riser or a night owl?  I’d suspect most of us have a pretty good idea of which category we belong. He suggests finding patterns that identify periods of time when you are most energized and plan to complete your most meaningful tasks during this time. Once you have determined your BPT, planning your “to-do” list in conjunction can make a big impact on your daily productivity. 

 The idea of completing a time log to determine how “intelligently” I am using my limited time is quite intimidating.  However, I can see the benefit of this task after reading about it in this chapter. The author states, “Without becoming aware of how you currently spend your time, it’s hard to reflect on whether you’re acting in ways that match up with what your values and highest-impact tasks are” which is a very valid point, in my opinion. With reservation, I must admit that sometimes the things I value most, end up at the bottom of my list. Then, over the course of a week, I have spent little to no time on these tasks. I would like to change that. Does anyone else out there feel this way? Do you think that you battle procrastination, inattentiveness or need to decrease the number of distractions in your space? It sounds like we will be touching more on these topics in later chapters. The author makes a case for keeping a time log so that you are able to accurately map out what you REALLY spend your time doing. Okay, so it sounds like a hassle, but keeping a time log every hour or half hour can really open your eyes to how you waste time or how long particular tasks actually take to complete. Chris Bailey refers the reader to his website where you can find charts to help you track your time and energy levels for one week.  

Now this is a challenge that definitely takes a commitment and willingness to do a tedious task.  The author impresses upon us the importance of tracking your time and energy in this chapter by stating that the information you gain will pay off for a lifetime and could potentially save you hours each week. What are you thinking after reading this chapter? Would you be willing to keep this type of log? 

-Holly Hamill, SLP @ Wilt Elementary