The schedules of pediatric occupational or physical therapists tend to be extremely busy. If you work in the schools, you know how hard it is to complete all the daily tasks, follow your schedule and maintain focus throughout the work day. After work hours, add bringing paperwork home or phone calls to parents and doctors not to mention managing your own home life. With the digital age being in full swing, your attention and focus can be pulled in many different directions affecting overall productivity. Here are 5 tips to help improve your productivity throughout the day as a pediatric therapist:
- Start the day with a simple mindfulness practice. Whether it be to take a few deep breaths, pray or meditate for awhile upon waking up take some time to be calm. Don’t roll over and grab your phone.
- Organize your day efficiently. Your brain is most likely more clear and fresh in the morning. Schedule complex tasks in the morning. Move simple tasks to the afternoon whenever possible. Stay organized throughout the day and maintain a clean work environment (this one is really difficult for me!). You will be more productive if you are less distracted by a physical or digital mess around you. Try to keep your physical work area clean which would include your therapy bag to carry all your supplies, your car and your paperwork. Also, try to keep your digital work area clean. Delete unnecessary emails, apps or files. Reduce clutter as much as possible on your home screen.
- Schedule smaller team meetings when possible and delegate tasks. Limit the number of people to attend group meetings. This cuts down on some people just sitting there for extended periods of time being unproductive if their opinion if not needed. When in a meeting, delegate one person to be directly responsible for each task to make it clear who needs to complete each action item. For example, if you are meeting on implementing modified seating then assign specific tasks to each individual ie therapist provides the alternative seating equipment, student must be safe with alternative seating, teacher’s assistant collects simple data on whether the modified seating is increasing attention to task, teacher reports on improvements noted in academic abilities and therapist modifies alternative seating choices if necessary.
- Create templates or forms for frequent communication or documentation. By streamlining the paperwork process you will be more productive. Check out School and Home Communication Forms for Therapists – a download of 21 forms to increase communication between therapists, school staff, students and parents or Data Tracking Forms for School Based OTs and PTs – a download of 7 data collection forms for monitoring progress in occupational and physical therapy in the school setting
- Take your own brain break. Allow for time to reflect throughout the day and at the end of the day. What did you do right and what can you improve upon?