Slumps and Burnout and What You Can Do About It

Burnout is real for school counselors! But, there are things that we can do to try to prevent burnout from happening.

Yes we can be overworked, underpaid, under staffed, tired and exhausted, but if we look at the systems we put in place in our counseling program and start to examine our time on tasks, we can take back some of our time and feel less stressed and more productive.

This episode is filled with tips that you can implement right away to make the most of your day.

Links Mentioned:

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Transcript
Carol:

You're listening to the Counselor Tap podcast, a show for school counselors looking

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for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy.

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I'm Carol Miller, your host.

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I'm a full time school counselor and the face

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behind counseling essentials.

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I'm all about creating simplified systems,

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data driven practices, and using creative approaches to gauge students.

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If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth

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and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together.

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Ready to chat? Let's dive in.

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I am so glad that you're here with me today.

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And for today's episode, we are going to talk about something that I think.

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Everyone can really relate to.

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But first, let me paint you a little picture.

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So tell me, does this sound familiar? You pull into the parking space at work just

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before students are allowed into the building.

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You run down the hall, and as you're unlocking

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your door, you are greeted by a mass of faces walking through the halls.

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You go into your office, turn on your computer, and then you let out a little growl,

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because you see the 20 plus emails that are there waiting for you that need responding to.

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But before you even get to answer any of them, the phone rings, and you have to help a

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teacher with a student.

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You go to help.

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And when you return to your office, you realize, oh, my gosh, I have a classroom

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lesson.

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You know, the one that you haven't prepped for

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yet, and that's in five minutes.

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You grab a book off the shelf, and then you

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run to a classroom.

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And once you get back, you have two meetings

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scheduled, but you can't find your notebook.

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So what do you do?

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You grab a piece of paper and promise yourself that you'll add it to your notebook later on.

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Fast forward to after the meetings, and it's lunchtime.

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But you have three students in your office.

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They're all waiting to talk to you.

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And it's a good thing that you brought some crackers, because it's probably the only thing

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that you're going to eat for lunch, because you already have another student in class that

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needs to see you right away, as soon as you have a minute.

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Well, you know, the rest of the afternoon goes pretty much the same way, but now you have 13

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voicemails to listen to and two counseling groups to facilitate.

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You want to stay late to catch up, but you need to rush home to get dinner, because you

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know that you have kids that have to get to practice later on.

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You also know that they have their own homework.

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So was this scenario describing just me, or were you on the struggle bus here with me?

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Overworked, understaffed, tired and exhausted? My friends, this is what we call a slump.

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It's when you're not performing at your best, you feel disempowered and stuck, and it feels

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like you just can't get anything done.

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And I'm guessing that you guys have

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experienced being in a slump before yourselves.

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Now, research says that slumps can be early predictors of full blown burnout.

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That landslide of work stuff you just can't get ahead of, it's like a paralysis that makes

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it difficult to even drag ourselves to work because it feels like whatever we do, it just

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doesn't matter.

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So today I thought we would spend a few

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minutes talking about what we can really do about it because we shouldn't have to live our

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lives feeling disempowered, feeling like we're in this slump, the one that we can never get

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out of, and we certainly don't want to go into a full blown burnout.

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So when we are in a slump, we really need to become self aware and we have to understand

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why we're in that slump.

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To be even begin with, we need to identify the

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key factors that are leading us down that road of doom.

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Maybe for some of us, it's boredom, maybe it's being detached from our goals, maybe it's

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being overworked and maybe it's even a fear of doing something great.

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But whatever is behind that slump, it's leading us to procrastination setting.

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Now, once we know our reasons, we need to identify those little things that are getting

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in our way.

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So do you not have a location or a designated

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binder for your notes? Do you have your email up all the day and you

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keep getting distracted from other projects because you're always checking in or answering

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the things that come up? Do you not have any set times for the mundane

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paperwork, your lesson planning, or your record keeping?

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Do you not say no to things? Do you not keep data so that you don't have to

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well? Do you not keep data so you don't have the

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evidence that your work is even fruitful? Do you use a checklist or a to do list?

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Do you have a system for your overabundance of postit notes?

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Well, when we have identified all those little things that are getting in our way, we can

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actually start to develop the skills that we lack and then we can create some strategies.

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Now, strategies are nothing more than a set of systems.

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Those are the things that we put in place to get things done.

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And take it from me, if you can start to check off those boxes of all the little things, you

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will actually have more time for the bigger things.

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Jim Rohn said, success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

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When we feel successful, we really feel more energetic, helpful, happy, productive.

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But there is really a big difference between being busy and being productive.

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So today we're also going to look at some systems that we can create to move from slump

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zone to feeling like we are in our rock star zone.

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The first is to really track your time on tasks?

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How long does it actually take you to plan a lesson or a group?

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What about returning phone calls or attending meetings or even answering your emails?

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By tracking the time, you can batch these tasks into your calendar and give them a

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dedicated time to do, because when things are scheduled, you are more apt to get them done

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and those sometimes dreaded tasks won't pile up, making them difficult to finish.

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Now, if you need some help tracking your time, it's great because I have a free time tracker

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and I am going to leave that in the show notes so that you can go and grab your own copy.

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It's just in Google forms, so it's simple, easy to use, and very quick.

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So just go download and make your own copy.

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You also need to make sure that you take

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regular breaks.

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You have to my friends eat lunch and I'm

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talking, not at your desk with the computer in front of you.

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You actually have to leave your room, find a friend and break some bread.

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That half hour is golden.

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I also like to walk the halls a couple of

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times a day.

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It gets me out of the office and it makes me

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more visible with staff, but I try to schedule them.

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I usually like to schedule one just before lunch, and I also have one first thing in the

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morning.

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The next thing for us to really do is to quit

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multitasking.

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We aren't programmed to multitask.

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Let me say that again.

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We are not programmed to multitask.

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And doing more than one thing at a time, it's not allowing us to focus and push through to

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completion.

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So we have to really quit doing that and focus

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in on starting and finishing one task at a time.

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One thing I do is I also take advantage of my commute, I listen to podcasts, I practice

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gratitude, and I always try every day to have my witness moment.

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That's where I look around and become really observant and I think, what was the one thing

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that I got to witness today that I am truly grateful for?

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It could be the sunrise in the morning, it could be that cloud shaped like Daffy Duck, or

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it could be the cool purple flowers growing up on the side of the Blue House.

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But I swear, even though I've driven by every day for the last how many years, I've never

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noticed before.

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Or sometimes I just need to get in my groove

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and perform my own rock concert just for me in the car and have a great time at it.

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That's really my self care of the day.

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The next thing is to really minimize

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interruptions.

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I mean, there's this meme of a guy in the

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office wearing a Do Not Disturb sign on his back because he has work to do.

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Ad will talk if you interrupt.

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I can tell you I'm that guy.

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I need that sign.

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Please do not interrupt.

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I will talk and get nothing done.

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So while my door is always open, I will close

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it.

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Just to meet a deadline, you also have to make

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sure that you schedule your time.

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Friends, my planner is one of the most

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important things that I have in my counseling program.

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I schedule in when my lunch is going to be.

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I schedule in when my classroom lessons are,

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when my groups are meeting, when I'm going to answer my email.

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And that's really important because having that schedule and knowing this is what I have

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to do is so important.

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It's also really important to keep some white

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space in your calendar, your planner.

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Now that white space is the time for the

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unexpected, it gives you that time to focus on things that just come up.

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Because, you know, in our line of work, we have things that come up all the time, but

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this way we can schedule the things that will just happen to come up, or we can share that

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schedule with the people in the main office, with maybe our co counselor, with even

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teachers.

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We don't have to give them names or things

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like that, but we can tell them, these are the times I'm free.

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So rather than having them send the kiddos down at any time throughout the day to have

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that super long line, they can say, oh, well, Mrs. Miller is free at this time.

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Let's give her a call, see if she can schedule you in.

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Schedule your time.

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I also try to only answer emails maybe two or

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three set times during the day, and I try to keep it off the rest of the day because it is

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a distraction.

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Also, make sure to schedule time for lesson

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planning or content creating, even data tracking or any other tasks that you

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particularly don't like.

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And before you go home, spend a few minutes

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prepping for the next day.

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Get your to do list ready, your lessons ready

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to go, and make some copies.

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But my friends, do not spend all night.

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If you want to spend an extra half hour, write it on your calendar and leave when that half

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hour is up.

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You don't need to take things home with you.

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It's about setting those boundaries.

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Now, once you picked out the systems that you

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really need to work on or add to your productivity goals, you actually need to

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implement them.

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So I want you to do something.

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I want you to challenge yourself to pick one thing that you need to change and then do it

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for the next ten work days.

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And if you meet this challenge, make sure to

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give yourself a reward.

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Stop for that iced coffee on the way home, and

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this time get the whipped cream on it.

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Lastly, you guys, you need to reflect on your

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new system.

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Did it work?

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Did you implement it with fidelity? Does it need any modifications?

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Are you feeling more productive? So I gave you a little quote earlier from Jim

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Rohn and I want to share another one with you from him.

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It says Motivation is what gets you started, but habit is what keeps you going.

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This is definitely one of my mottos.

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Motivation is what gets you started, but.

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Habit is what keeps you going.

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You need to show up every day and we need to

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be our best selves for kids.

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So working smarter lessens those distractions

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and it minimizes those little things that soon becomes those big slumps.

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So let's all say goodbye to the struggle bus and say hello systems.

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Anyway, my friends, I know that this was short and I went really fast, but I hope it was

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helpful.

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I hope that some of these things, if you can

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start putting into place for yourself, it'll lessen some of the stress and the burnout that

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maybe you feel on a daily basis.

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Try to do a ten day challenge to make a system

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for yourself so that you feel really great.

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And if you want to get that copy of the Time

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Tracker or you need a really good planner, I'm going to set you up with some of those links

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in the Show Notes because I've got you covered.

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Anyway, friends, let me know how it went.

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I want to hear all about this challenge that

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I'm giving you and if it really can make a difference.

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So next time we'll chat more about planning and organizing because I think this is the

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time to set ourselves up for a great year next year.

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Anyway, until next time my friends.

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Have a great day.

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Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat.

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All of the links I talked about can be found in the Show Notes and@counselingsentials.org

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Podcasts.

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Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your

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favorite podcast player.

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And if you would be so kind.

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To leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.

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Want to connect?

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Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials.

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Until next time.

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Can't wait till we chat.