As a counselor with a caseload, there are a few tips I would like to share, that have helped me get the most out of my time at work. These strategies of efficiency have helped me be able to spend more time with my clients and less time battling with my paperwork. Here are some methods that have worked for me:
1.Using Voice Mail Strategically
Before I dial a phone number, I will take a few seconds to write down on a sticky note what the goals are for that conversation. This simple step helps reduce rambling and freezing that may occur if I reach voice mail. When I reach someone’s voice mail, I don’t just say “Hi Bob, this is Jackie, please call me back. Thanks.” Instead, I leave a message stating who I am, the main reason of the call, and a clear action plan for them to take next. This action part of the message is important because it moves forward the conversation. Instead of going around in circles and perhaps playing phone tag, the receiver of the voice mail message knows what they have to do next.
I have learned that with using this method, my clients start leaving messages that are concise, clear and tell me what actions I need to be taking. I encourage my clients to leave messages telling me exactly what they need, so I can do any research and investigating right away, instead of trying to reach them to figure out what they need.
2.Keeping a Master List
When I first started organizing my workspace, I thought it would be a good idea to make lists! Except, I went a little overboard with list making because there were lists everywhere. They were in both electronic and paper formats, stashed in different drawers of my workspace and pinned on several walls. I had separate lists for paperwork that needed to be completed, phone calls that needed returning, projects that needed to be finished, etc. It came to the point where I needed a list, to keep track of all the lists! Now, I just keep all of my to-do items in one single space. Using the task feature of my email provider, I write down any little and big thing that needs to be accomplished on my master to-do list.
Writing anything I need to do, no matter if there is no way I would forget to complete that task, has been helpful. Using this strategy helps clear my mind because I don’t have to spend energy memorizing tasks or fretting that I am forgetting something. Instead, I take a look at the list and know exactly what is on the agenda. Because of my master list, I can usually stay on track and not forget to do something. This helps build trust with my clients since they can see that if I say I will do something for them, I will.
3.Completing One Process the Same Way, Every Time
At my place of work, there are tasks that require multiple steps. Now, these steps can be accomplished in any order, as long as the task is complete. What has helped me, is figuring out the sequence of the steps that work best, and then making sure to complete that task the same way, every time. For example, after an appointment I will do the following in the same order: enter my case comments, place client’s next appointment on my calendar, and track any items I promised I would do for the client on my to-do list. Completing a task in the same order helps me with my time because eventually, the series of steps I take becomes automatic. This helps clear my mind because I can go in automatic mode and save mental energy for the counseling side of the job.
I want to hear your tips and strategies. What keeps you organized and on track at work?
Jackie Torres is a counselor in Colorado with a particular interest in the world of work. She enjoys helping people find what makes them feel strong and energized at work. She is also learning to play the guitar.