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Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge! The Life Audit

Welcome to the Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge!

This is a 3-part series designed to help you get 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.

“Time management”, “productivity standards”, “finding time to continue learning.” The list goes on.

This series won’t ask you to work faster or harder. Instead, it guides you through practical steps to prioritize what really matters to you, then make more space for it in your life.

Ready for a more balanced life? Let’s dive into Part 1: The Life Audit!

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

Part 1: The Life Audit

how to be more productive slp

In my kitchen, I have a drawer for pens. When we moved in, I bought an organizer and neatly stacked some pens, Post-It’s, and a roll of tape in the compartments.

Then I had some extra velcro and squeezed that next to the pens. Then we bought a washer and dryer, and my husband shoved the instruction manuals underneath the organizer. You can see where this is going.

My pen drawer reminds me of what my schedule as a therapist used to look like.

I ran around as if on fire all day, chasing down my jumble of job duties. Yet I was chronically disorganized and behind.

I tried working faster and harder. I tried organization apps. I tried lots of complaining!

But it wasn’t until I learned about the 80/20 Rule—and did a life audit—that I was able to clean out my metaphorical pen drawer.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

speech therapy how to be more productive

80% of results come from 20% of causes.

The 80/20 Rule was made popular by Tim Ferriss and other thought-leaders in business productivity.

But this is not productivity in the sense of squeezing more into your life.

Rather, it’s about cutting out the biggest pain points and increasing the biggest wins.

This 80/20 ratio can be seen in many aspects of life. Some examples are:

  • 80% of the fruit is on just 20% of a plant
  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of customers
  • 80% of points are scored by 20% of the players

From asana.com

Despite the word ‘Rule’ this is not an actual rule, but a way to see your duties through a new lens. Depending on what you’re looking at, the ratio may be closer to 90/10, 95/5, etc.

The 80/20 Rule and Your Job

how to be more productive slp

What does this mean for your job? And how can you use the 80/20 Rule to wrestle back your time?

  1. About 80% of the poorly used time in your job is caused by 20% of your duties

  2. And around 80% of your desired results come from 20% of your duties

    Think about it!

When I applied the 80/20 rule to my job, I discovered that:

  • Around 20% of my patients were LSVT clients. And I got my best results and most of my joy from these patients

  • Around 20% of my day as a home health therapist was driving. But since I wasn’t paid to drive, it was causing 80% of my resentment and stress

Here are some common speech therapy duties that may be using up your precious time—without the payoff of joy or the results that truly matter to you.

Possibly Not-Worth-It Job Duties…

slp how to be less stressed
  • Too-detailed documentation
  • Meetings
  • Committees
  • Doing someone else’s job
  • Any unpaid or off-the-clock work
  • Managing difficult coworkers
  • Treating patients who have diagnoses that you just can’t seem to treat
  • Baby showers/birthday parties/employee appreciation lunches, etc.

Now that you’ve got the idea, it’s time to do your own Life Audit!

How to Do A Life Audit

1. Download & Print ‘The Life Audit’ PDF

2. List All Of Your Duties

work like balance slp

List all of your duties on The Life Audit printout. Be thorough!

Do you spend a lot of time chatting or on social media?

Do you make your family homemade dinner, lunch, breakfast, and—come to think of it—snacks?

Do you spend time most workdays doing the CNA’s job?

Do you spend every Sunday evening at your in-laws?

Write it all down!

3. Circle What Leads to Your Desired Results

Open your own pen drawer and take out 2 different colored pens! Let’s say green and red.

  1. Start on Monday

  2. Imagine that you only have 2 hours each day to accomplish what matters most to you. Think joy. Think results that bring you meaning

  3. Use your green pen to circle the few activities on Monday that you could accomplish in 2 hours

    • This is only a thought experiment, so be creative!

    • Maybe you would see only 4 patients for 10 minutes each, to make time for your spin class. What would you do in those 10 minutes treatment sessions?

    • Maybe you would only assess

    • Maybe you would spend all your time allotted for work educating new hires

    • Again, this is an opportunity to identify what matters most to you. Ask yourself: What gives your day value?

  4. Do this for the rest of the week

  5. Make a list of the activities circled in green

  6. This is your first 80/20! These are the roughly 20% of activities that give the majority of the results that matter most to you

4. Circle What Causes the Most Stress

how to be less stressed speech therapy
  1. Pick up the red pen

  2. Start back on Monday. In red, circle the top 3 activities that give you the most stress, take up the most time, and/or don’t lead to your desired results

    • No one’s watching, so you don’t need to be nice!

    • Circle documentation—it’s a given!

    • Maybe getting calls from home health families after you clock out sours your mood

    • Maybe co-treating is stressful and cramps your style

    • Maybe making all of those homemade meals is exhausting

  3. Do this for the rest of the week

  4. Make a list of the activities circled in red. Notice any patterns?

  5. This is your next 80/20! These are the roughly 20% of activities that cause the majority of your stress and inefficiency

    • And these are where you will gain the first of your 10 hours per week!

Get Your Time Back!

productivity ideas speech therapy

Look at your list in green. These activities give you the most value and, I believe, should be your priorities.

Now, look at your list in red. These are the activities that are taking away from the results that matter most to you.

Time to problem-solve how to do less of—and maybe even let go of—the activities on your red list!

1. Ask yourself, what can I let go of?

how to be more productive slp

Unpaid driving time topped my red list.

Through a series of negotiations with management, our speech therapy team was able to cut down our driving territory from 2-3 counties each to 1 county each.

Ideas of What To Let Go Of

  • Committees
  • Cultural aspects of your job that don’t add value to your life (drama, co-treating, etc.)
  • Doing too much each session
  • Allowing work calls after-hours
  • Doing the CNA/rehab aide/manager/scheduler’s job
  • Unnecessarily detailed documentation
  • See one less patient
  • Reluctant volunteer work
  • Social gatherings that leave you drained
  • Too much housework

2. Ask yourself, what can I add?

adult speech therapy documentation guide

After my Life Audit, I took the time to create my own documentation templates.

Then I began documenting during every session. I also made a commitment to never leave work until my notes for the day were finished.

Suddenly, my weekends and evenings were freed up for exercise and time with my family.

I also asked colleagues to send LSVT patients my way, increasing my joy and therapy results while on the job.

Think abundance! There is no limit to the amount of freedom, joy, or peace you can experience in your life. Just as you encourage your patients to increase their independence and quality of life, I encourage you to do the same!

Ideas of What to Add

  • Premade handouts, worksheets, and templates
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Better physical environment (noise-canceling headphones, ergonomics)
  • Pre-written documentation phrases
  • Ask for help (vs doing other people’s jobs)
  • CEUs to boost your confidence on a shaky topic
  • Meal delivery service (Hello Fresh, Sunbasket)
  • House cleaning service
  • Yard maintenance service

3. Take 2 Actions This Week

The final step of The Life Audit is to take two actions this week!

You can start with something small to build your confidence, then take one major action that will cut down your red list and free up your time.

Sign up for a one-month trial of a meal delivery service to save hours every week on grocery shopping and cooking. Write shorter notes. See one less patient. Rehearse what to say to avoid gossip.

Some of the duties on your red list may seem impossible to change. You may think that your job will never allow it. Or fear being criticized for asking.

But you always have the power to make a change, even if it’s just a baby step in the right direction.

Save 10 Hours Per Week Challenge: Part 2!

how to be organized slp

In Part 2 of the Save 10 Hours Per Week series, you’ll find strategies to streamline your therapy materials and processes.

See you then!

Time-Saving Materials

For evidence-based Templates, Handouts, Goals Banks, and more, check out the Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!

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