5 Strategies for Stress Free Organization

Organizing your work life can lower your stress, increase your impact, and help you get the recognition you deserve. In this blog post I shared why getting organized can be a gamechanger for your counseling program, now I want to share with you some easy how-to strategies!

1. Create a Caseload Spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet of all the individual and small group students you see to keep track of everyone. I like to use Google Sheets so I have sharing capabilities and can access it across devices.

You can customize it to fit your needs, but here are categories to get you started.

  • Student Name

  • Teacher

  • Grade

  • Area of Need: anger management, grief, etc

  • Counseling Type: group, individual

  • Referred By: parent, teacher, self

  • Contacted Parent

  • Sent Permission Slip

  • Received Permission Slip

  • Asked Teacher Ideal Time

  • Scheduled Sessions

You are likely collecting this information without thinking but having it laid out makes it simple and easy to access.

Tips:

  • Use different colors to indicate small groups

  • If you see a student both individually and in a group, write their names twice but be sure to use an asterisk to make note of this so you don't double count them when collecting data later

2. Create a Counseling Log

Create a spreadsheet keep track of who you are seeing each week. Again, I like to use Google Sheets for this!

Start by including the following columns:

  • Date

  • Student Name

  • Area of Need: anger management, grief, etc

  • Counseling Type: individual or group

  • Duration: the amount of time your session lasted (This provides more detail than your Google Calendar appointment. You may have 30 minutes blocked off on the calendar, but the student is late. Or you may have to factor in travel time to pick them up from class so you end up talking to them for only 20 minutes. This ends up being more accurate than the calendar in the end.)

  • Strategies Used: Write a brief summary of what you did so you can remember for next time!

  • Notes: I don’t always write something in this column, but it is a space to share student temperament, important updates, etc.

  • Parent Communication: I only write in this column if I spoke to the parent that week. Then I write the date and a brief note about what was discussed. (Ex: 5/11/20: Mrs. Bremer called to share the results for Dana’s psych eval and ask for an update on her behavior chart.)

* Keep in mind your sessions are confidential and you only want to provide enough information to be helpful in reminding yourself what was covered. You don't want to share too many personal details of what is shared in the session. This is especially important if you plan on sharing this log with anyone else. I share mine with my principal.

Leave this open on your computer all day. Type a few sentences in between students to make sure you are staying on top of it without wasting time. You could factor this time into your daily schedule. For more scheduling tips see this post.

Bonus: You could use two different tabs and combine the counseling log with your caseload spreadsheet to create a hub.

3. Use Voice Memos to Take Notes

You are busy! Sometimes you may not have time to type in your notes. Instead, try recording a voice memo on your phone, or use the voice to text feature. This eliminates the use of sticky notes and scrap paper which is potentially problematic because you later can't find them, can't read your handwriting, or break confidentiality by having them visible to other students and teachers.

voice memos

4. Color-Code Your Calendar

Use colors on your calendar to indicate which type of service you provided. This way when you open up your computer to start your day you can see who you are seeing and how to prepare. You can correspond this to your caseload sheet so that the colors match. (ex: anger management small group = red on your caseload members names and your calendar time slot)

google calendar

You can separate the colors by the following services:

  • class lessons

  • groups

  • individual sessions

  • meetings

  • duty

5. Create a Digital Todo List

Who doesn't love the high of checking off a to-do list? I'll admit it, I've even written down a task I've already accomplished on my to-do list just so I can cross it off!

When it comes to keeping track of your tasks, digital apps are your friends! They are way better than a clipboard when it comes to creating and managing your to-do list.

The following apps have been instrumental in increasing my efficiency:

  • Trello - Trello is a project management tool that is basically a bunch of visual, digital sticky notes! If you like the layout of Pinterest, you'll love Trello!

  • Todoist - Todoist is a list of simple checkboxes that is likely similar to the pen and paper version you're using now.

  • Notes app - The Notes app is native to Apple products and is included on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This makes back and forth communication or editing on the go seamless! (I'm sure there is an android equivalent) With Notes, you don't have to download another app because it's already on your phone. I use this for my personal recipes and grocery list too!

checklist

Why is Becoming More Organized Important?

  1. Becoming organized and efficient will maximize your impact and allow you to see more students. When you spend less time searching for materials you can spend more time meeting with kids via direct services.

  2. Tracking these services that you provide in turn helps you to advocate for your role and get the recognition you deserve! You can share how many students you are seeing and what types of groups you are running in your school newsletter or on your counseling website. This shows stakeholders why your counseling program is vital to student success!

Download my Stress Free Organization Freebie for more detailed examples on how to implement these strategies!

 

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