Start of the School Year: “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” (African Proverb)
Organize your space: Take advantage of your office space or designated zones. Regardless of the space you’re given, be it a full classroom or a broom closet, make it yours. When your space is adequately organized, there should be a logical work flow. Just as you wouldn’t put your silverware in the pantry, nor should you keep your commonly used office tools/forms in hard to access or messy drawers.
Organize your paperwork: Ensure that all forms and templates are up-to-date and in order. For those you use frequently, make copies to keep on hand. No one wants to search through their google drive to find that Medical Release Form 5 minutes before a meeting. Ensure that all assessment protocols are well stocked and organized in a logical order.
Organize your calendar: Plug the district calendar into your personal planner. This should include state and district testing schedules as well as any days that students will be out of school.
Organize your caseload: At the beginning of the year, develop a master assessment/therapy log. Your district may have a universal template. If you are a case manager, add all deadlines to your planner/calendar.
Staying Organized Throughout the School Year:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Learn to batch task: Research indicates that employees lost approximately 40% of their productivity when multi-tasking or task switching. While each task that you switch to may only take 1 second, those seconds add up in the never-ending search for planning time. Put all of the “administrative tasks” that will take you 5 minutes or less (e.g., responding to an email) on a list to complete in one large batch.
Stick to one project at a time: Keep each project in a separate folder and have only one project opened on your desk at a time. As a school psychologist, I have a five-section folder organizer that sits directly beside my computer monitor. I can look to my left and immediately see how many students I am waiting on consent from or how many initial evaluations I have in the testing stage.
Protect your priorities: Put the priorities of your job responsibilities first, remembering that overcommitment can play a large affect on federal and/or state timelines.
Have daily and/or weekly self check-ins: Start each morning by looking over your schedule and mentally preparing for the day to come. At the end of each day, look over your schedule for the next day. If traveling between schools, pack all supplies you will need for the following day. At the end of each week, review your list of tasks to be completed and rearrange the following week’s schedule as needed. This is often a great time to knock out 30-60 minutes of 5-minute administrative tasks.
Find a system that works for you: I have made multiple “pretty documents” that look great in theory, but do not work in the midst of a busy school year. If a system does not seem to be working, do not force it, try something else.
Favorite Organizational Tools:
Google Calendar: Easily shared, color-coded by category, easily rearranged
Sticky Notes - Electronic Version: Easily display small tasks and important phone numbers without the messy desk
Wunderlist: To-do list useful for deadlines, prioritizing tasks, categorizing tasks, sharing with team members