Productivity

Tips For Managing Paperwork

 May 18, 2022

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

Whether you love or hate paper, as therapists we have a lot of paperwork that needs to be dealt with.

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How to stay ahead of the pile of paper
  • How to go paperless where possible
  • How to keep paper in your life (if you want it!)

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Focus Club

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Hello, hello! Uriah here. Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you.

I want to tell you a few tips about how I manage paperwork and any kind of paper in my life, any direction that it comes.

So I, for some reason, have a long standing dislike for paper. I still enjoy writing on paper, in notebooks with pens and pencils, and doing maybe artwork on paper. But when it comes to paperwork, whether it's bills, business, paperwork, all kinds of different things that come usually in the mail.

I don't like to let them hang around. I like to process them and handle them as quickly as possible. Paperwork just tends to pile up. I don't enjoy it. And so I want to create the easiest, most streamlined way to process it and get it out of my life.

So back in the day, I can remember having paper files for my solo private practice. And I had these beautiful file folders. They were just amazing. And I kept them up meticulously.

And then when clients would leave, I would have to process them. It would always take me so much time to just deal with all the paperwork.

And so eventually, when I signed up for an EHR and went all digital, that was such a game changer. And even just on the aspect of needing to keep client files and notes for so many years, it just changed my life.

And the other thing that I had early on in my practice was a little Fujitsu Scan snap scanner. Still have it at home, and I use it occasionally. There's a little scanner that sat next to my desk and you could put 20 pieces of paper in it, and they would scan them all directly into a note taking app that I use, called Evernote.

And so everything and anything that would come my way, I would put it right through the scanner straight to my laptop and then get filed. I have a different process for that now that I'll share in a moment.

But here's how I manage paperwork: so anything that comes in the mail, whether it's at home or at my office, I take all of those things and I either look at them and throw them away, shred them if needed.

Usually the EOBs that come into the office we don't need, so I shred those and then anything else that needs to be acted upon or responded to, I take that and I put it in a green manilla folder. And that folder lives in the desk drawer of my home office.

And I have a weekly reminder in my ToDoist task management app that tells me - in fact, I have to do it today - to process the green folder. So I don't let myself get bogged down on a Tuesday or on a Monday or a Wednesday with managing and dealing with paperwork and responding to things I procrastinate very intentionally and I put it off till Friday. And so it's on my task list; I go ahead and handle that every Friday. That's kind of nice just as a workflow.

And when I'm processing the green folder, most often, what I'm going to do is if it's something that I need to fill out and mail, of course I'll do that.

If it's something that I just need to keep a record of and keep a copy of, I will actually pull out my phone and open up the Evernote mobile app. It's just a note-taking app that does a lot of cool things.

And it's got a scan feature. So you put a piece of paper down on a dark background, I put it down on my desk or something like that. And then you just point the phone at it and then it scans and it cleans it up, makes it look really nice, and files it in my Evernote for me to sort of deal with later.

And one cool thing about that, it worked with the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. That's a mouthful! Also works with the mobile app is that it has something called OCR, which is Optical Character Recognition. So if I take whatever the document is, whether it's handwritten or if it's typed, the Evernote app will actually read that and make all the text in that paper. That piece of paper is searchable in the Evernote app. So that has come in handy so many times when I'm looking for something, I literally have 10,000 notes in there because I've been using it for about nine or ten years. So that's super handy.

And then this is not so much about paperwork, but just in terms of...well, it kind of is... whenever I get a form that I need to fill out, that's a PDF. That's a digital file I remember back in the day. And maybe some of you still do this, but you would print out the form, sign it, and then either Fax it or scan it or somehow turn it back into a digital document.

So what I do now, one of the reasons why I love having an iPad with an Apple pencil is I just fill out those forms right on my iPad, save them, and then I could email them, send them wherever they need to go. That's super handy. No more printing.

I'm trying to think what was the last thing I printed? It's been a while! I try not to print very many things. Ink is also pretty expensive.

And then I guess when it comes to trying to think about different scenarios, I don't use paper with my coaching clients and I didn't use paper very often with my counseling clients. But if you do, if you use some sort of assessment documents or anything that you hand to the client, they fill out or you fill out together on a regular basis, you can certainly scan that and upload it to your EHR, put it right into the client file in Simple Practice or Therapy Notes or whatever else you use.

So I guess what I just want you to think about is where do you get stuck with dealing with paperwork in your life, whether it's at home or at the office or anywhere else, and how can you streamline and make that more efficient and maybe less stressful.

I don't know about you, but many times in the past I would process my mail or paper would gather in different places and then the important bill that needs to be paid would get lost or something. And then once I finally got to the point where I was like, okay, I need to deal with that stack of paperwork or that stack of paper, I would find something that was overdue and that just never feels good.

So I got the system now. I think it works really quite well and I hope something in these examples is helpful for you and my goal is to help you be a more productive therapist, help you get more done so that you can have more fun.

Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Bye!

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Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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