Do you ever feel like you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start? Do you ever have one of those days or weeks where you feel like everything is merging together and you don’t remember where you left off or where you should begin at the beginning of each day or week? Have you ever had an IFSP review sneak up on you for one of the families you serve and you haven’t even begun to coordinate the meeting or prepare the progress report?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to know you are not alone and perhaps you can benefit from one of the following strategies to help you stay organized. Or better yet, maybe you have a tip you’d like to share with others!
Over the next few weeks we are going to provide several blog posts that give you tips for balancing priorities and the multiple tasks you have to complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We know that there is not one right way for everyone to stay organized and therefore we encourage you to post your strategies along with us!
We will start with the first three tips to help you organize and prioritize!
Tip #1: Use multiple lists….if you think it then ink it… or better yet…plug it into your notepad, calendar or reminders on your mobile device!
- Break your lists down into subject categories so there is a place for everything (i.e. 6 month review, annual IFSP review, phone calls to return, etc.)
- Establish a focus for where the list and the items on your list fit with your current priorities (high priority/medium priority/low priority)
- Review your lists often (daily/weekly) and transfer, add and purge as needed
Tip #2: Prioritize deadline sensitive items base on due dates (i.e. upcoming meetings) and periodically ask yourself:
- If I can only do one thing what should it be?
- How much time do I need to allow for each activity…and how much time do I have?
- Is my environment conducive for what needs to get done? Do I need a quiet place to work to accomplish the task at hand and if so is it quiet? Do I need technology/internet to complete the task and if so do I have those tools available to me right now?
- How much energy do I need to complete the task and is now a good time to start the task?
Tip #3: Use a tickler filing system (paper, electronic, or both)
- Used to keep track of all children/families you are serving and document all meetings and activities that take place during the course of a calendar year
- Can use a three ring binder or recipe card box divided by the 12months of the year and each child/family has a print out or index card that includes pertinent information (i.e. birthday, initial IFSP date, 6 month review due date, annual IFSP review due date, referral for transition due date, etc.) and the child/family information gets filed according to the next month that something is due
- Takes time to set up but once it is set up it is easy to keep up as long as you review your current month and upcoming months frequently
- Can be done electronically using an electronic calendar if reminders are installed for upcoming activities and due dates for each child/family you serve
- Click here for an example of a Tickler File (PDF, New Window).
How do you stay organized in the midst of your busy job? Do you have a tickler filing system? Tell us what tips, tricks, tools, or systems work for you!
Don’t miss the next post in this series, Part II, about managing time!
To read other posts in this series, click below:
Visit the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center’s Tools of the Trade page for more tools to help you stay organized, such as tracking charts, checklists, and excel calculators!
The Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois’s Resources page is also a great place to find resources related to your work!
Sarah Nichols is an Early Intervention Consultant for the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois (formerly the Illinois Early Intervention Training Program). She has been working in the field of Early Intervention since the year 2000. She was a service coordinator for seven years and she has been a training consultant for the Early Intervention Training Program in Illinois since 2002. Sarah assists in the development of web-based learning opportunities, manages the Early Intervention Training Program website, facilitates state and national webinars, and develops and manages online workspaces for early interventionists, training consultants, and members of the Early Intervention-Early Childhood Professional Development Community of Practice (EI-EC PD CoP). Sarah is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) and she is currently a Co-Leader for the DEC Professional Development Special Interest Group (DEC PD SIG) .