I've been reading a lot of books about business and personal development lately, and there's this common concept that gets brought up over and over. It is mentioned in different podcasts, different books, by different authors, and across a variety of fields.
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
Are You Working on the RIGHT Things? Episode 102 from The Mind Your Business Podcast
The "concept" is present in a few different versions, but my top 3 iterations are as follows:
1. Over 90% of results are a direct product of a specific 10% of work.
2. Focused attention (i.e., "deep work") on the things that matter will lead to better results than unfocused attention on too many things.
3. Say NO.
While we like to believe that all the little things we do throughout the day are equally important in getting us to our end result, that's just not true. Let's assume your goal is to complete progress reports for the 50 students on your caseload. You need to stop and really think about what tasks truly contribute to the completion of the project (sitting down in front of your laptop and actually typing words on the page, for example), and which related tasks are actually just distractors from the end goal (perusing Etsy for a signature stamp...because after all, wouldn't that just save you so much time?!).
So, how do we figure out where we should spend our time? What is the 10% of work that matters, and how do we figure out what is distracting us?
At the end of the day, if your boss came to you and said that you absolutely had to have these reports turned in by the end of the day, what specific tasks would you need to do to get it done? We're talking bare bones here.
If you're thinking that it's impossible to get 50 reports done in a day, what is making it impossible? What tasks are unnecessarily eating up your time? For me, it'd be fighting with the copier to print double-sided before the WIFI goes out, then sorting them into piles for each parent, teacher, and file. But are any of those tasks absolutely imperative for completion of the reports? No. And, in a crunch, I know I'd be able to streamline the process and get rid of 90% of tasks that are not truly moving me toward completion of my project, Sorry, but those cute little color-coded post-its I made for each teacher in an adorable font are OUT.
As SLPs, many (but not all!) of us being quite Type A, we have a tendency to love and spend a lot of time striving toward perfection in a very visual, color-coded, sort of way. This can be wonderful in many contexts, but you know what's better than perfection? Completion. Because nothing is more perfect than being able to check an item off a to-do list.
So why does this matter? Why can't I spend my time doing these things that make my therapy room pretty, my file cabinet organized, and my heart happy? First of all, you can. Just not first. And why? Because, overwhelmingly, as SLPs, we feel overworked, stressed, and in over our heads. We're drowning in paperwork, caseloads, and other responsibilities. By weeding out the "extra" stuff, we can focus ourselves on what matters, get the job done, then "play" when it's done (and it will get done!). Additionally (and importantly!), we may now be able to have a conversation with the powers that be about what work we're doing that is really distracting us from our "true" role - to provide great therapy (and yes, to have some way to document it, sorry!).
"Thanks for meeting with me, Mrs. Supervisor. I'd like to discuss some of the tasks I find myself spending a lot of time on, but that really get in the way of me being able to submit reports quickly/service students/provide stellar therapy. I think I have a few ideas that would help me be more efficient and allow me to spend more time on the things that I think we'd both agree truly matter."
I'd love to hear from you. What tasks are your biggest distractors on a daily basis?
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Let me start with how Kiwi Speech got its name. I currently live in Pittsburgh, but it took living in a few different states and countries to get here. One of which (and the one that is truly "home"), was New Zealand. When I was first starting my business, I wanted a name that represented who I was, but was also catchy and kid-friendly. A person from New Zealand is colloquially referred to as a "kiwi", hence, Kiwi Speech was born.
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