I always start a new school year with the best intentions. I set big, lofty goals and am ready to conquer #allthethings!
But then reality hits…
My caseload numbers increase.
Meetings start to fill up my calendar.
And the overwhelm starts to strike with a vengeance.
And that’s when I start to doubt myself…
Who am I to think that I could accomplish the goals I set? Isn’t it impossible?
These types of questions always used to put me in a negative spiral, and I ended up making these questions a reality.
When I thought I couldn’t keep up with Medicaid billing, I found myself with a massive backlog of notes to submit.
When I thought I couldn’t help a student, I left it up to the rest of the team to figure it out.
When I thought I was too overwhelmed to tackle the day, I called in sick and came back to an even bigger mess the next day.
Those are not fun things to admit…
The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way!
I finally realized that my goals were actually attainable. I just had to get out of my own way and stop telling myself lies.
After having conversations with hundreds of SLPs, I realized that I wasn’t the only one doing this. Here are some of the most common lies that I heard…
1. “I’ll never catch up on Medicaid billing.”
I know we all love to hate on Medicaid, but it really doesn’t have to be that bad!
I was spending hours a week dreading Medicaid billing. Hours. I’d procrastinate like the best of them. You know the funny part? Once I got a system down, it only took me 5 minutes a week. (Note: I was billing for every student on my caseload.) I spent hours dreading something that only had to take me 5 minutes!
Even if your district has the worst system in the world, it’s totally doable to finish your weekly billing in less than 30 minutes. Find ways to make it more enjoyable. Here are some things that I’ve tried:
• Get yourself your favorite drink and tackle it all in one go.
• Eat a Skittle every time you submit a note.
• Time yourself to see if you can bill faster next week.
• Reward yourself with a pedicure when you catch up with billing.
Is it too overwhelming to tackle a day/week of billing at a time?
Tell yourself you’ll just bill for 5 minutes (or whatever amount of time seems approachable). Make it 30 seconds if you have to! You’ll probably be able to do more than 5 minutes once you get started. Getting started is the worst part!
Just changing your inner dialogue about Medicaid will make it that much less painful. Then it’s just a matter of setting aside a few minutes a week, and you’ll be conquering your billing in no time at all!
2. “I’m too busy to…”
I’m too busy to bill.
I’m too busy to plan therapy.
I’m too busy to take a course.
I’m too busy to… [insert your answer here].
That’s a lie, too, friends!
When we say we’re “too busy,” we really mean that it’s not important enough to make it on our list of priorities.
We all have the same number of hours in the day. We all get to choose how we spend that time. What do you want to want to spend your time on? If you don’t want to do something, that’s totally okay! Own it! Just don’t tell yourself it’s because you’re too busy!
3. “My caseload is too…”
This one comes up a lot, too!
My caseload is too big/small.
My caseload is too diverse.
My caseload is too mild/severe.
Is that really why you can’t bill Medicaid? Or keep up with progress reports? Or plan for therapy? Really?
Each one of these “lies” has a different truth behind it, but I’d challenge you to evaluate this thought, too! What’s the truth behind it?
4. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Oh, girl! This one has a special place in my heart. It’s one that I’ve really struggled with, and I spent a lot of time talking about it on the blog earlier this year.
We do have an incredibly broad scope of practice, but I’d challenge you to reword this lie. How does this feel?
I don’t know what I’m doing YET.
We’re always going to encounter challenging cases, but we have the resources we need to figure it out.
Try telling yourself this when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed:
I don’t know what I’m doing YET, but I will figure it out.
5. “I can’t get help because…”
I’ve spent a lot of time problem solving with SLPs. We’ll be working together to come up with a solution, and then I’ll hear this line…
I can’t get help because I’m too busy. (Double whammy!)
I can’t get help because I’m in a small/large district. (I’ve heard both!)
I can’t get help because of confidentiality. (Say what?)
I can’t get help because I don’t know anyone. (Really?)
I’ve told these lies, too, but–looking back–they make zero sense.
Asking for help has been one of my “go-to” strategies.
• If I’m stuck on a case, I can reach out to the SLPs in my district. If that doesn’t work, I’ll reach out to other SLPs that I trust. I’ve emailed former professors and even some “famous” people. They’ve all been more than willing to help, and it only took a few minutes to reach out. Much better than pining over a problem for days or weeks!
• If I’m feeling overwhelmed about my workload, then I try to think of creative ways to take some work off my plate. Some of these solutions take some time (e.g., setting up digital data), but it’s totally worth it if it’ll end up saving me time in the long run.
• I’ve also asked school volunteers, friends, and family for help with materials prep. It’s not a confidentiality issue if you’re just having them cut/laminate materials for you! Once I put it out there, I started getting emails from parents to see if they could help. (I was in a Title I school with 99% of students on free/reduced lunch.) They loved it because they weren’t able to volunteer during the school day, but they really wanted to give back! I also think they secretly (or not-so-secretly) loved the opportunity to get a little crafty!
What lie are you telling yourself?
Identifying the lie is the first step. Being aware gives us a starting point, but we want to take things one step forward!
What can you DO to turn things around and make this year easier for yourself?
We are smart, problem-solving professionals. We can find solutions for even the stickiest of problems. The best part is that you don’t have to do it alone. Asking for help is a fabulous problem solving strategy.
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