Today I'm sharing some tips from my SLP life that will hopefully help you in your busy SLP life. I work for a rural special ed co-op and serve 3 different school districts. Most days I travel to at least 2, if not all 3 of my schools. I have to manage my caseloads at each of the districts, juggle meetings, conferences, RTI, therapy, testing, and all that other fun SLP stuff with limited time on each campus. That means I need to be on top of things and stay as organized as I can. If I slack even a little, all of the plates I have spinning come crashing down and it is exhausting trying to get things back in order.
So here are my top 5 tips to make your busy SLP life easier and less stressful:
#1: I know this may seems impossible, but I do my very best to never take work home with me. Taking work home means you are also bringing the stress home with you. I always try to keep work at work so I can focus on my family and recharge for the next work day. Think about all those times you have brought work home and then you don't get to it. Do you feel guilty for letting it sit? Do you forget about it and have to lug it back the next day still unfinished? Or maybe you actually get it done, but end up staying up late to do so...On days when I feel swamped and think I need to take my work home, I fight the urge and leave it. I think it's better to go in early, stay a bit late, and work through lunch if necessary. You need time to escape the chaos of work and recharge. Keep the work at work. :-)
#2: Find a planner or calendar that works for you and USE IT! Everybody has different ways of keeping track of important dates and deadlines. Are you a phone person? Does Siri remind you of your deadlines? Or maybe you are like me and love a good paper planner. Whatever it may be, find a way to keep track of deadlines and stick to it so it becomes a habit. I love my Happy Planner from Michael's. I got it on sale and used my educator discount, so it wasn't very expensive at all. I love that it has 3 rows for me to track my life. I use the top row for work related events, the middle row for family/life events, and the bottom row to help me track my TPT Store and blog. This is the best way for me to stay on track and not forget meetings and deadlines. I look at my planner every morning so I know where I need to be that day...especially since it's always different! If you need some help finding the perfect planner, you can check out this SLP Planner Roundup post.
#3: Build reminders into your calendar. Yes, I write down meetings and deadlines, but I also write myself reminders into my calendar. If progress reports are due on March 24, I will write a reminder to myself on March 20 that I need to make sure I have good data for each student. If I have a meeting on April 17, I will write a reminder to myself in the margin of the week prior so it doesn't sneak up on me. IEP meetings due in May? I'll make a list in the margin of April to remind myself that I need to schedule and prep the meetings. These little reminders help me to stay on top of my schedule rather than being overwhelmed by it.
#4: Take 5 minutes of your day to breathe and recharge. Use this time to do something that helps you to take your mind off your busy day...breathe, take a long restroom break, sip your coffee, check social media, read a page of a magazine or book, or just sit and enjoy the silence or a good song. Just make sure you set a timer so you don't go over your time and end up more stressed. I like to sit in my car for 5 minutes before I get out at each school. I gather my thoughts and go over the game plan in my head before I go in. This time helps me to focus and prepare because once I get out of my car, it's fast paced and go go go until I get back in my car.
#5: Try using no print or no prep materials with your students. I have to admit, I am a speech therapy materials junkie. I love interactive books and cute themed games and activities...but I also have 3 schools I have to carry my materials to/from and very little time to laminate and prep. This year, I have developed a love for no print and print-and-go types of resources. With no print activities, all I need is my iPad and I'm ready to go. I use articulation apps in place of artic cards. I download no print resources from Teachers Pay Teachers into iBooks and have them on hand at all times. Print-and-go activities are great because it takes less than 5 minutes for me to access the file on my computer, print it, and set it down on the table ready to go. There are so many great no print and print-and-go resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and many are free! Just add NO PRINT or NO PREP to your search when you are looking for resources. I have several FREE print-and-go resources in my TPT Store, including activity booklets for /th/, activity booklets for /f,v/ (temporary freebie), articulation sudoku, a spring themed compound sentences packet, prefix & suffix worksheets, and a comprehension and sequencing freebie. Click on the links or the images at the end of this post to get these FREE NO PREP resources.
These are just a few things that I do to help me manage my busy SLP life, making it easier and less stressful. Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to hear from you. Share in the comments or feel free to send me an email. :-)
Links to my FREE NO PREP resources on TPT. Click each image to be taken to the file.