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 

Chapter 3

Rachel Lacap shares:

Chapter 3 focused on the “three daily tasks” and the “rule of 3”. Determining what three things you want to accomplish every day and every week will help you work deliberately and with intention every day. The author said that this system is the absolute best system to work intentionally. Basically, the rule of three states that you must know your three most valuable tasks that you want to accomplish every WEEK, and every DAY. By my own admission, I have trouble getting through the first taskon my “to do” list simply because I get distracted by 10 other tasks on my “to do” list while working on my first task. I LOVED this system because it really helped me to filter out the hundreds of “extra”things that seem to take over my “to do” and distract me from my most important items that need to be completed. For example, I may sit down at my computer with intention to complete all my speech logs for the day, but while sitting at my computer logging data, I periodically check my email and see that a teacher has asked me to add someone to my screening list. At that point, I pull out my screening list, add this student’s name, and then see that I screened another student eariler in the week and need to get intervention information to the teacher. So, of course, I then open up my interention documents, print that information for the teacher and get it sorted. Just as I am getting ready to get back to my logs, I get a text from a colleague telling me of a great resource she saw on Teachers Pay Teachers. Let’s just say, once I get on TPT, I am a lost cause. I am sucked into the abyss of awesome materials and constantly thinking “oh, wow! I should do this! I need to download this one—it’s free!” Before I know it, it’s 10:00pm and I’m yawning and ready for bed. I have spent the entire evening thinking about work and doing work related tasks, but never completing my FIRST and MAIN task.

The author stated that keeping the items to “three things” helped him to keep these three items at the front of his mind. If anyone asked him what he planned for the day, he could easily rattle off the three things he wanted to accomplish that day. The rule helps you work smarter because by deciding what you want to accomplish, you also decide what you DON’T intend to accomplish. Also, the rule focuses on the GOALS you want to accomplish and not what you want to get done, so you feel more productive. This is in contrast to looking at the laundry list of things you need to get done and then feeling dissatisfied at the end of the day that you did not get them done.

The Challenge is to determine what your “three things” would be. The author stated that at the beginning of the day, you should sit down and fast forward to the end of the day and ask yourself what three things you would want to have done by the end of the day. Think about when, where, and how you will accomplish each activity. You can start with the daily ritual and then add in the weekly ritual. You can also add in “three personal accomplishments” in addition to your three accomplishments for your work life. I am definitely looking forward to using the rule of three in my daily time management routine and am hopeful it will improve my productivity and decrease my ability to get distracted.

The Productivity Project-Chapter 1

Dala Sparks (SLP at Johnson and Meyzeek Middle Schools) kicks off our fall book study with Chapter 1:

The Productivity Project begins with an introduction to the Author’s idea, time commitment and research involved in developing the 25 most powerful tactics to increase productivity. In this first chapter, Bailey discusses that changes in our habits and/or daily routines are necessary to improve our productivity; However, which routines or habits we choose to modify or add must be important and meaningful to us. His initial productivity experiment began with him attempting to change his morning routine by becoming an early riser. So  many times we are inundated with information about how early risers are more productive or even more successful. In this experiment, Bailey modified his morning routine to wake at 5:30. He did this by slowly adjusting his waking time over the course of a few weeks until he reached his goal of waking at 5:30 am. In turn, he discovered that he also had to go to bed earlier. He reports that he was often going to bed at a time when he felt most productive, additionally, he was frequently saying “no” to social opportunities in an attempt to adhere to an earlier bedtime. In further research, he reports that there is no difference in the socioeconomic standards of early birds vs night owls, rather the true difference in productivity is based on how our waking hours are spent.

Ultimately, he decided this routine was not meaningful enough, to him, to implement long-term. He reverted back to his later bedtime in an effort to preserve his values of spending time with his friends and taking advantage of his most productive time- the evening hours. 

Personally, I found this chapter to be one that peaks my interest to know more about Bailey’s research and tactics. I am an early bird, and though Bailey did not directly talk about the importance of how long we rest, he did discuss that he adjusted his “to bed” time to be early when he adjusted his “wake up” time to 5:30am. In the end, his conclusion is simply: what we accomplish when awake is important. Though his findings also strongly suggest that sufficient sleep, whether an early riser or night owl, is also important. The suggestion of “shut down” time – referring to disconnecting from devices for a full 12 hours- is both enlightening and motivating. I too would like to try to implement this tactic in an attempt to focus more closely on my values – as derived from the experiment we participated in this chapter, mine are my health and my family. The overall idea of this chapter is that our values will drive our productivity, so identifying those firsthand will then allow us to then identify what habits and routines we want to implement to boost our productivity. What were your responses to the Values Challenge? Why do you want to be more productive?


Chapter 2

Meditate for 35 hours in a week…..35 HOURS!?!?! HOLY COW! Although I can’t say that I even attempted 35 hours of meditation, I started with what I thought was a reasonable goal. That goal was to meditate for 2 minutes. That seems easy enough, right? Not for me…. While I consider myself to be a relatively mindful person, meditation is a struggle for me. My mind seems to always be “running.” In the past, I have considered this a plus when it comes to productivity. It seems that, according to Bailey’s research, that is not a correct assumption. It surprised me to think that meditation may help me to better balance the 3 pieces of productivity: time, attention, and energy. So… My plan is to work on this.

I also think the idea that expectations met= more productivity is interesting. Did you accomplish what you intended to? I’m not sure I agree with this. Although I do think if we are thoughtful about our expectations, this is true. He indicates that we are more likely to identify the most important tasks accurately when we meditate. My thought is, though, sometimes things happen that are out of the plan, so how do we factor in these things?

Some other points that I found interesting and points to ponder:

Not all tasks are created equal

Cute baby animals…..

Just checking off the items that “happen to fall onto your to do list” may not be the productive way.


1. Make a list of everything you are responsible for

2. Ask yourself: What ONE item on the list is the most important- To you and your boss

3. What other 2 tasks would round out your top 3?


Did you complete this challenge? How did it go?