Monday, January 27, 2014

Decluttering the Workspace--Part 1

Yes, I used the "D" word--decluttering.  We're about halfway through the school year and I'm getting antsy.  Streamlining my work and also my workspace helps me calm down.

Step One--desk files.  Today my single file drawer looks like this:
You'll probably notice that there's a little free space in the front of drawer, a wooden wedge used as a spacer to keep the files from sliding down and flopping around and even room in the back for Mr. Froggy to hang out.  Two weeks ago this drawer was crammed full.  What magic happened?

Well, I took out a small set of files, about 2" worth, whenever I needed to get up and stretch my legs or whenever my brain was so fried that I couldn't write a single word more in the student's progress note or eval report.  When I was super frustrated I'd take the 2" thick stack of files and go into another room in our building, just for a change of scenery.   It's amazing how you can think better and work faster when you leave your desk for a few minutes.

Most of the files were no longer relevant.  Not talking about student information here but class programs from the 1990's and handouts on various diagnoses that are quickly available from and other reputable organizations.  By working on a couple of inches of files at a time over about two weeks my files shrank from overstuffing the drawer to nice and lean.

Student files are kept in a locked cabinet.  When I receive a student file from a fellow OT I purge it--removing duplicate copies of reports and printouts of forms that are available via our online record keeping.  Sometimes I'll treat the student as if s/he is brand new to our county and I'll do a records review at the school, reading recent evaluations by the psychologist, educational diagnostician and others.  It gives me a better picture of the student's abilities and needs and I feel more up-to-speed in knowing him/her.

Next challenge--decluttering those e-mails!

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