5 Helpful Ways to Get Past Report Writing Procrastination
Categories: Increase Your Effectiveness - Tips for SLPs
SLP Report Writing – A clinical observation
You’re sitting there. Actually you have been for more than 45 minutes.
Nothing more is coming in your email to save you.
Two trips to the candy jar. Check!
You give a pleading look to your coworker saying “interrupt me!” and she acknowledges you by putting on her headphones.
No one is even in the teachers lounge! What are they even doing? Teaching?!
You stare at the manila folder on your desk and give a muffled cry.
No, not yet. Let’s check our email again…
Is it just me or does physical punishment sometimes sound better than writing a report, doing Medicaid, or finishing progress notes?
We are all adults! This shouldn’t be so hard to make ourselves do something right? Well, if you have an incredible ability to be creative at all the wrong times, these next 5 suggestions to get past procrastination are for you.
SLP Report Writing Inhibition and Initiation Inhibition
Before we jump into the solutions let’s take a second to figure out what is going on in our noggin that makes SLP report writing so difficult. Luckily, we have vast research on Executive Function to lean into.
To truly understand what is going on we have to understand the difference between:
Inhibition – a voluntary or involuntary restraint on action
Initiation Inhibition – a voluntary or involuntary restraint on beginning an action
You see, most of us believe that when we are procrastinating we do not want to do a task. The truth is that more often we lack the ability to BEGIN the task. Once we get going, we really don’t mind working on it at least for a bit.
This a crucial distinction because when we look at procrastination as a STARTING problem we decouple the problem from our personality and emotions. We stop thoughts like:
I hate this.
I’m not good at writing.
This is the worst part of my job!!!
Conversely, research into how to jump start Initiation Inhibition abounds.
5 Ways Around Initiation Inhibition to Jump Start Your SLP Report Writing
1. Make it First – we lose RESOLVE throughout the day
Think of Will Power as a fuel that slowly dwindles throughout the day. Anything that you schedule in the first half of the day is way easier simply because you have more resolve.
Pro-Tip: No email first thing!
There is no easy way to say this: If you react to your email you are letting someone else choose your priorities for you. The way to get past that feeling like the world is coming apart if your email is closed is to clear through it before you leave the day before. If you have answered any important emails by 4PM the prior day, it is easier to sit and write until 9-10 before responding to others.
“First” has a second meaning when it comes to SLP report writing. You are way more likely to initiate and write faster if you begin immediately after you tested the child. This means even if simply open the template and transcribe a few notes.
I use this technique even when I am done-in at the end of the day. I at least open the template and put in the identifying information on the top. You can at least do that right?
2. Make it Smaller
We are all born bargainers. “I have to write that eval” sounds daunting. But how does “I have to score those protocols” sound? If we commit to a small portion, even the most enjoyable part of the process for you, you are more likely to begin. Also check out our Evaluation Checklist and Evaluation Test Log in our free evaluation resources page.
Pro-Tip: Name a time not a event.
We are more likely to commit to something that is concrete. Be honest, do you honestly know how long it will take to write the background information? Heck no. What if you say: “I will write for 30 minutes”
Too much you say? “I will write for 20 minutes”
I use timers religiously. I type in 20/30 minute timer into Google or I have specific timers already built into my phone using the Multi-timer app.
3. Make SLP Report Writing a Game
Anytime we can inject fun or competition into an activity we are more engaged to begin. Here are some ideas:
I will try to write 100 words before someone walks through that door.
I will get on page 2 before the third song ends.
I will finish the Speech Section before Sheila over there finishes with her group.
4. Make a Reward
What do you want? Can you make it dependent on your finishing your report?
Pro-Tip: Tie your SLP report writing goals to your life goals.
Let’s face it, we are at work a lot! Do we really need to be bringing this junk home? How can you reward yourself for speedily finishing your report? Let’s say you have health goals, gift yourself a nice meal for writing the whole afternoon and knocking it out. Buy a gift card to your favorite coffee shop.
Negative Rewards – How are you wired?
While many of us love a gift for accomplishing something, some of us are wired the other way. As an example, a friend of mine had a huge thesis-sized publication due that he was completely dragging his heals on. He wrote a check for $500 and gave it to his best friend to mail to the political party he despised if he didn’t submit his publication by the due date! Extreme but effective.
5. Ask this question: What is the smallest amount of time I will commit to?
This is a hybrid of the timed-event but relies heavily on our embarrassment. What is such a small amount of time that you would commit to that sounds ridiculous? 5 minutes? 3? What would you be embarrassed to tell me if you didn’t do it?
Open the folder?
Score a protocol?
Remember, the name of the game is just to initiate.
There is what we LOVE to do and what we HAVE to do.
No life experience is exempt. But, how much time are you wasting by all that avoiding? How much emotion?
Trick yourself into starting and knock it out.
You’ve done this dozens of times before and it is not that bad.
You’ve got this!!
I put together an ASHA CEU course on tips like these to make us all more productive. I share research from 3 of the top productivity business professionals in our field that are helping people do LESS – more effectively. It’s inside our SLP Community Site SLP Impact
Productivity 101 : Be Highly Effective Without Sacrificing Your Health or Homelife
You are brilliant! I am incorporating #3 immediately, and then I will add more. Thank you, thank you!
Nice to know others feel the same way I do about report writing. I have a phrase I have crafted….Positive Procrastination….I have it down to a Science!
This is a great read and applicable to SO many things outside of report writing. I made my engineering team read this 🙂