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Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge! Organize Your Materials

Welcome to Part 2 of the Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge!

This is a 3-part series designed to help you gain precious hours of your life back.

When we asked our audience, “What’s the hardest part of being a speech-language pathologist?” the overwhelming response was lack of time.

Part 1 of the challenge, The Life Audit, guided you through practical steps to prioritize what really matters to you in your life and how to make more time for it.

In Part 2, you’ll learn how to organize your materials. These strategies will save you the hours of time you’d otherwise spend creating and keeping track of your therapy materials.

Ready for a more balanced life? Let’s dive in!

For everything you need to assess, treat, and document, check out The Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!

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Part 2: Organize Your Materials

how to organize your materials

Let me set the scene.

Your lunch meeting ran late, and you’re rushing to see your 1:00 patient. As you grab a clipboard from your desk, you remember that she needs to be reassessed today.

While clicking through the jumble of files on your computer to find the right assessment, you suddenly remember that your 2:00 eval is likely NPO and needs a handout. Opening Google, you hunt down the evidence-based PDF you’d found last month.

Already 7 minutes late, you hurry to the printer for the assessment and handout—only to see a blinking red light.

It’s jammed. Again.

Scenarios like these are frustrating and, over time, take up hours of your precious time.

But there are systems that you can put in place to avoid these inefficiencies, decreasing your stress and saving you time!

Your Go-To Materials

organize your materials

In Part 1, we introduced the 80/20 Rule, which states that about 80% of results come from 20% of causes.

The takeaway of the 80/20 Rule is to focus on what gives you the biggest wins. This also applies to your therapy materials.

What materials do you use most often? Which give you the biggest returns? Think patient results. Think ease of use. Think evidence-based.

Which don’t? Are you hanging onto an outdated peds textbook, just in case? Are your drawers stuffed with blurred copies of worksheets from the 80s?

This brings us to Step 1:

1. Put Away Not-Useful Materials

I’m looking at you, peds textbook.

Pull out a cardboard box. Pack away any book that you haven’t opened in 6 months.

Pare down notes from graduate school, CE classes, and in-services to the 1 or 2 pages that you actually need from each subject.

Print out a fresh master copy of blurred worksheets and assessments—but only if they’re useful—and recycle the rest.

Finally, pack away the not-useful materials out of sight.

2. Get a Hanging File Box

organize speech therapy materials

Get a sturdy hanging file box. Or if you have your own filing cabinet at work, clear out an entire drawer.

This box/drawer is now your sacred space for useful materials. Vow only to add materials that meet your new high standards.

Have a separate bin for any new materials that might make the cut or need to be parsed down, and take time each month to sort through it.

3. Organize Your File Box

organize therapy materials

Next, let’s organize your file box logically. You’ll use the same general flow as your patient’s therapeutic journey. From assessment, to treatment, to discharge.

Assess

SLP assessment templates

In the front of your file box, keep assessments.

Make a master copy of every assessment that you use on a regular basis. You may choose to keep each in a plastic sheet for safekeeping. Or write MASTER across the top in yellow highlighter, as a reminder not to use it for anything but copying.

Of course, follow copyright laws regarding which assessments you can and cannot copy.

Print/keep 5-10 copies of the most common assessments. Keep 5 copies of the less common assessment.

Treat: Handouts & Worksheets

dysphagia handouts pdf
Treatment handouts

Behind the assessment, you’ll store your treatment handouts and worksheets. These are the ones you use most often.

To keep handouts patient-friendly, use 16-point font and plain language.

Keep a master copy of each handout.

1. Day 1 Informational Handouts

Make a folder for Day 1 Informational Handouts. After doing an assessment, it’s great to give patients some hope and agency with a Day 1 handout.

Create a Day 1 Handout for each basic area of speech therapy. You’ll find these in our Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack. You can also create your own. Here are some ideas:

  • Aspiration signs and symptoms
  • List of 3 to 5 go-to strategies for each diagnosis
  • A template for handwritten strategies

2. Worksheets & Handouts Based on Diagnosis

Make a folder for each major diagnosis. Keep 5-10 copies of each at all times, depending on how quickly you go through them.

Useful Tips:

To keep materials patient-friendly, use 16-point font and plain language.

There are useful, free, printable worksheets on high school home school websites in the areas of math (problem solving) and geography (visual neglect and language).

Trial other free online resources for reading, dysarthria, attention, memory, etc.

Once a worksheet really clicks for you and your patients, make it a staple and add it to your File Box.

Folders to Make:

  • Memory (Memory strategy handout, etc)
  • Problem Solving (Math worksheets, etc)
  • Visual Neglect (Scanning tasks, etc)
  • Dysphagia (Safe swallowing strategies, etc)
  • Expressive Aphasia (Word finding techniques, etc)
  • Receptive Aphasia (Simple reading material, etc)
  • AAC (Needs board, etc)
  • Motor Speech (Dysarthria: turn-taking comedy routine script such as Who’s On First, etc.)
  • Voice & Resonance (Vocal hygiene handout, etc)
  • Fluency (Fluency strategies, etc)

3. General Handouts & Worksheets

Have a folder for monthly calendars, which are useful for many different patient goals and diagnoses.

Keep 10 copies at all times.

Discharge

Have a folder with D/C notes that you’ll give to patients upon discharge.

Create a template that allows you to jot down the key takeaways from their time with you in therapy.

Here’s an example:

Thanks so much for working with me, ___(PATIENT NAME)_____!

Keep using these 3 strategies:

1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

Please do your homework!

If you have trouble with: _______________ do this: ___________________

All the best to you!

____(YOUR NAME)_______

5. Other Useful Materials

Keep a stash of neon-colored paper.

These are eye-catching reminders for you to write important safety notes on for patients and/or their families.

Example neon patient reminder:

NPO

PLEASE DO NOT EAT OR DRINK BY MOUTH

PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR NURSE IF YOU’RE HUNGRY OR THIRSTY

Example neon caregiver reminder:

IF BOB IS THIRSTY, HE CAN SUCK ON ICE CHIPS.

PLEASE CLEAN HIS MOUTH BEFORE GIVING HIM ICE CHIPS. USE THE BLUE ORAL SWABS ON THE NIGHTSTAND.

– SPEECH THERAPY

Keep a small whiteboard, dry erase markers, and large-grip pens in the very back of your File Box.

These special pens have a way of disappearing when you most need them. So squirrel them away.

4. Restock at a Set Time Every Week

how to stay organized SLP

Set up a recurring reminder to restock your materials at the same time every week. Maybe it’s every Sunday night, if you print from home. Or a time that the rehab aide is least busy and can do it for you.

Either way, make a quick list of materials that have less than 5 or 10 copies, depending on how often you use them. And keep them in stock!

5. Check Out The Starter Pack

To save even more time, consider the Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack.

You’ll find 900+ pages of patient-friendly, evidence-based, and printable PDFs that include:

  1. Assessment Templates
  2. Handouts (for all major ST diagnoses)
  3. Worksheets (for all major ST diagnoses)
  4. Goal Banks
  5. Medical Reference Charts
  6. Aphasia Treatment Protocol
  7. Cultural Competence Guide

Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge: Part 3!

how to be more efficient SLP

In Part 3 of the Save 10 Hours Per Week series, you’ll find strategies to streamline your therapy processes.

See you then!

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