Have you read Atomic Habits, yet?
Written by James Clear, there is a ton of simple, straight-forward information about how to start new habits and get rid of bad ones. After all, small habits build over time and bring us closer to our goals!
One key idea in the book is the importance of automating tasks. There are a bunch of things you do everyday that basically happen automatically. Think about brushing your teeth, washing your hands after you go to the bathroom, or checking your phone when you wake up (oops!! Sometimes automatic behaviors aren’t always good habits!)
The thing about doing things automatically is that you don’t have to consciously think about them. They just happen.
All right, so how can we apply this to our SLP life?
Are there work tasks that you can develop a system for and stop thinking about on a daily basis? You bet!
The more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas.James Clear, Atomic Habits
A freer brain to focus on what’s more important? Sign me up!
What are we saving our brains for?
Before we jump into the nitty gritty, let’s remember what are the most important parts of our jobs. What are the things we don’t want to automate? Some things that I have thought of:
- Establishing relationships (with kids, parents, teachers, staff, etc.)
- Understanding individuals and their needs
- Lifelong learning (whatever you learn today will always be with you!)
These are the things that will help me be the best SLP I can be. If my artic cards aren’t color-coded, that’s ok. I can still be a good SLP.
Ways to Automate Your SLP Job
Ok, so what are some things we can automate as SLPs?
Hopefully you are already using templates at work. I’ve shared my speech therapy IEP cheat sheet to help you write effective, accurate IEPs without having to reinvent the wheel every time. I also have shared 15 data sheet templates so you don’t have to create your own!
I also organize my caseload with Google sheets which helps me keep track of data collection, lesson planning, IEP dates, and evaluation timelines.
The key is to create a paperwork system that works for you and then stick with it. You don’t need a new system halfway through the year. The one you set up is fine as long as you maintain. Don’t keep chasing after the promise of something better. Automate your job. It’s good. Move on to the things that matter.
#2: Therapy Materials
Are you constantly chasing the latest, greatest, cutest therapy products? Do you feel like you need to buy something new every time you write a new goal or get a new student on your caseload?
When you invest in solid, quality therapy materials chock full of a year’s worth of therapy, you are automating your therapy material selection. You don’t need to spend tons of time planning therapy each week when you have a core set of high quality materials. Automate your job by being picky about the materials you buy and use.
This might seem like an odd thing for a therapy material designer to say, but Speechy Musings products are designed to be thorough, applicable to all your students, strategic, and comprehensive.
I might be biased, but I think my products really are some of the best tools for automating therapy planning.
For example, my Themed Language Therapy Unit Bundle for Speech Therapy contains 10 fun units targeting goals for every language student on your caseload. Buy that bundle and you’re done for the year! Plus, every packet is styled the same, so you’ll be comfortable and familiar with the format.
Need something for your articulation kids? My No Prep Articulation Printables Using High Frequency Words Bundle for SLPs contain all the stimulus words you need from isolation to conversational level articulation practice. Done and done!
While these two products are highly comprehensive, I do have over 150 products in my TpT store that might be useful to you and your students. The good news is that all Speechy Musings products are designed to be efficient, effective, and help you prep and run therapy with very little time commitment.
Don’t overplan therapy. You know what you’re doing. Invest in quality materials, use them, and focus on what matters!
#3: Automate Your Schedule
Every school year we begin with the struggle to automate our time by developing a speech therapy schedule system.
When you are working on your schedule, make it a priority to schedule in a specific time for observations in the classroom.
Classroom observation are critical so we can determine if and what educational impact is affecting our students and determine need for speech therapy. Observation is also helpful for analyzing generalization and carryover of skills.
Automate your job by building in a specific time for observations.
Are there other tasks that are important, but seem to keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile? Write time in your schedule to tackle these tasks. Don’t waste those 10 minutes in between groups, use them. Write down what you will use them for in your schedule.
When “the basics of life are handled and fine, your mind is free to focus on new challenges and master the next set of problems. Building habits in the present allows you to do more of what you want in the future.”James Clear, Atomic Habits
What do you want to do more of in the future?
What good SLP work habits will get you there?