The Dilemma of Distractions

By: Annie

For me, multi-tasking has always been something I have done. Even when I was in college I would cook supper or watch TV while I was doing my homework. Now, I somehow manage to juggle my sweet daughter into that mess somehow. I’m learning two things about myself though: I certainly don’t multi-task like I used to and distractions are eating a big chunk of my time every single day.ahp-blog-the-dilemma-of-distractions

I’m not sure where the change happened, but I went from juggling two, three or sometimes even four different tasks at the same time to now getting overwhelmed by one task very easily. I’d like to blame it on the sleep deprivation, but I think that card may be a bit overused.

If you recall, I recently moved. The move in itself has presented me with lots of issues. Taking care of all the legalities of moving was a big distraction, but then came time to actually move all my belongings. I have gotten to the point where I am only focused on unpacking and I can’t do anything else until that task is done. I don’t remember this being such an issue the last time I moved when I was working nearly 60 hours a week. I must have gotten it done on the weekends and evenings somehow.

As lovely as she is, my daughter is obviously another distraction. She is just over a year old now and has discovered every single cupboard mommy doesn’t want her playing in. She has a giant toy box full of every toy you could imagine, but for some reason those yellow rubbery cleaning gloves have more appeal to a one-year-old wondrous eyes. So when I’m not busy being distracted by unpacking the house, I am running from one end of the establishment to the other trying to find what the latest mess she has created is. I may sound like I am complaining here, but I genuinely enjoy being her mother and all the perks that come with it! J

I have identified that I have a problem with these distractions cutting into my study time and productive time in general. Now that I know it is impeding on my other tasks, I have decided to actively do something about it. I block off times in the morning to work on house stuff and then I do whatever tasks can be done while my darling girl is awake like laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. Once she takes her late morning and afternoon naps I buckle down and that’s when I study, make phone calls, pay bills—you know the “adult” things in life.

I have had this routine for about a week and a half now and it seems to be working better than anything else I’ve tried. I am on the last quiz of Course 5 at the moment and can’t wait to be done with the program. I have started applying for jobs and submitting my resume to various companies, so hopefully I will get some part-time work for now and see where that goes. I hope your studies are all going well, too!

The Value of a Job Well Done

By: Annie

Generally speaking, my life goes pretty smoothly. The days go by, all my electronics, appliances and vehicles run perfectly and life goes on. I really can’t complain, but every once in a while something out of the ordinary happens and I have to order a part or bring a vehicle in to get worked on.

That was the case recently. I had to bring our pickup in to get worked and was told it would take all day. That wasn’t a problem; we dropped it off on Thursday night expecting to pick it up on Saturday morning all fixed and ready to go. Saturday morning came and we got the pickup, but there was a problem—it wasn’t fixed as we expected it would be!

I am pretty easy going and understanding when it comes to everything in my life. I understand if they ran out of time to work on something, I also get it if something couldn’t be fixed, but we didn’t receive any communication that this was the case. Instead, we got in the truck started it, started driving and soon we heard a “ding,” followed by another “ding,” and soon a third. Every single light came back on that we just had fixed.

I became frustrated immediately because it takes over an hour to get to the city where the pickup was being worked on. I waited for Monday to come around and called the place back to explain what happened and that the pickup was indeed not fixed. I scheduled another appointment, woke up at 5:30 am to get my daughter and myself ready and drove over an hour again to hopefully have these issues resolved.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I understand this is considered a “first-world problem.” Yes, I am very fortunate to even have a vehicle (and one that runs) in the first place. The reason I am even complaining about this in a blog post is because it immediately made me think of my homework and what I’m studying to do.

In our profession, accuracy and getting the job done right is vital. We can’t do a job halfway or incorrectly. We are working with sensitive and highly important information. In every aspect of my life I pride myself on a job well done and I have no doubt that my career working as a health documentation specialist will be no exception. I only wish those individuals working on our vehicle held the same standard for themselves!

I am still in the midst of moving and unpacking what seems like an endless supply of boxes so my studies have once again suffered. I am so ready to be done with the program and working so I hope this week I can find the time to buckle down and just finish the last of Course 5. I hope your studies are all going well!

Organization

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone! Hope you have had a great weekend, and enjoyed your St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  This week is all about spring cleaning and organizing.  Here in Michigan it is starting to get warmer, so we can finally open doors and let some fresh air into our usci-organization-blog-post-homes.  It is my favorite part of the year besides summer.  Also Spring break is coming up so that means it is time to get my homework all caught up and get my desk and school space organized.  Do you have a special space that you have dedicated just for your school work? Do you know where to begin to organize your space?  I do!! My dream job besides being a medical biller and coder is being a professional organizer.  So guess what type of tips I have for you today?  … Yep you guessed it ORGANIZATION tips.

Study Space Ideas

  1. Small folding table in a corner or somewhere quiet
  2. Kitchen table, but have a set time that is quiet and everyone knows that is your study time.
  3. Your bedroom with a TV tray.
  4. A small table setup in the basement, just make sure there is lots of light.
  5. When making a study space add a small cork board or white board where you can put up small motivational quotes, or keywords.
  6. Make sure to have all your supplies handy. I like to use Plastic storage drawers the small ones.  I have pens pencils, markers, post it notes.  They each have their own drawer. I also have file folders for each chapter in each course so that I can file each homework and notes I may have.  That way I can go back and use them for reference.
  7. File box for all the folders with notes and chapter quizzes.
  8. Large key ring with a whole punch. I put all my terminology cards on a ring so that I can keep them in order and take them with me.  I also laminated them so they would last longer.
  9. Stick on file labels. I use these to put on my workbook and college books so that I can use them for reference and I use the little orange post it tags so I can have quick reference to specific tips and terminology words in each work book.
  10. Small curtain rode with snap bins attached for quick access to post-it notes, white out, and highlighters.

These are just tips.  Yes I take it to the extreme so do not feel like you have to do these things.  Just do what works for you.  Everyone has their own ideas and organization that works for them.

Remember to set a schedule and have everything you will need to be right there near you so you are not wasting time looking for things.  Small breaks after working hard are much needed, but spending most of your time looking for things will not help you remember important information.  Stay focused and remember to up your game each day.  You are successful already for starting the program and reaching your goals.

The “Don’ts” of Resume Writing

By: Annie

If you have been following my blog you may have noticed that I am almost done with the Health Documentation Specialist program through At-Home Professions. I’ve been “almost” done for a long time, but I’ve had some curveballs thrown my way the last couple months so I wasn’t able to focus on this as much as I wish I could.

Well, life is finally settling down for me and I have been able to find time to continue my studies. I am down to the final two quizzes of Course 5 and with the closure of this wonderful experience quickly approaching; I have begun to think ahead about what kind of job I want. Obviously, I want to use all the skills I’ve learned from At-Home Professions and in order to get a job I need a great, wonderful, attention-grabbing resume.

I’ve actually been working on my resume as I find the time over the past couple weeks. I’m a perfectionist, which means I have put a lot of time into preparing and usci-resume-writing-blog-postmeticulously proofreading my resume. Prior to this, I haven’t updated my resume since my freshman year of college (7+ years ago!). I definitely do not recommend following in my footsteps in that regard, because as you might imagine I have been doing a lot of catching up on my skills, experience, abilities and references.

I searched the internet high and low for guides and tips on writing a good resume. I found a lot of helpful links and a lot of repeating information. Whenever I am researching a topic, I like to see the “do’s and don’ts” and I noticed in the case of resume writing I hadn’t seen anything telling me what not to do, so I thought I would throw a little list together of things you should not do on a resume.

  1. Don’t add unnecessary words. Resumes are meant to be a short and sweet description of you and your work skills, experiences, references, etc. Don’t waste precious real estate by adding in words that aren’t necessary.
  1. Don’t say why you left your previous jobs. Obviously, if a potential employer requests this information by all means let them know, but I don’t believe the place for it is on your resume. When it comes to previous employment all that is needed is the employer, your title, length of employment and a short description of your duties at that particular job.
  1. Don’t get complacent. Check and double-check your resume for not only spelling and grammatical errors, but for errors about your information as well. I have heard stories of people who transpose their phone number or email address and then wonder why they haven’t received a call back from a potential employer. If a company sees an error, even the smallest error, they very well could completely disregard your application. Correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and accurate information is key!
  1. Don’t get out of control with your formatting. There are some instances in life when less is more and I definitely think resume writing is one of those times. Keep your formatting clean and simple. You want potential employers to read about you and not be distracted by how busy your resume is. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to demonstrate your creative abilities; the resume is not the place!

I hope your studies are all going well and some of my “don’ts” of resume writing help you! Happy studies!

When in a Pinch

By: Jessica

Hi everyone hope you have had a great weekend. Are you prepared for the week ahead? Have you accomplished everything on your list from the weekend? If you are anything like me you may have gotten half of your list accomplished and nothing that needs to get done. But that is how I do my best work is all rushed and stressed out. Well not always. And I do not recommend rushing anything at all. But if you happen to be in a pinch and need to accomplish a whole lot of things in a small amount of time here are some tips and tricks to check out….

  • Always start with the biggest project first. This means you will have more time but also if you get stuck or need to take a break you can also work on another project. I always feel like i am killing two birds with one stone.
  • If you take a break start prepping for the next project. This helps give your brain a break from the current activity and get it back into go go go mood.
  • Once you get a project done take a very quick break like literally take a brisk walk outside and grab a healthy snack like nuts fruit or veggies.
  • Make a task list and keep it near you or visible it will be a subtle reminder all the time. I enjoy crossing things off my list and then taking a break or a nap lol.
  • For homework or school work I always read all the questions at the end of each chapter before I start a chapter that way I know what I am looking for and can understand what and why I am reading.
  • As you find the answers jot them down. It does not hurt to understand the highlighted or bold terms in each chapter. This really does come in handy when the test comes around.
  • Before I take the test I like to quickly go through each chapter leading up to the test and read all the questions and answers just so my mind is refreshed.
  • Any notes I have taken are seriously my cheat sheets for understanding the chapters specially if I have a question to ask my instructor I read through my notes first just to make sure that the answer is not in there so I do not feel silly.
  • Highlighting special tips in your workbook or just making note of them have saved me several times.
  • If you do not purchase the actual book copy and just use the computer version I would just cut and paste in note pad or word. That way you can just switch tabs and have all your work laid out.

I hope that some if not all of these tips help you with being in a pinch. Staying on top of homework and work life and family life is a complete balancing act. But it feels so good when you are ahead of the game. So stay afloat and enjoy your week.

Finding a Connection

By: Annie

I haven’t had Internet for three days now and I am going crazy! You wouldn’t believe how much I rely on the Internet in my every day life. Facebook, email, Instagram, doing my homework and submitting quizzes, paying bills, my bank wifi-connection-symbol-vector-fileaccount, shopping and I could go on and on, it seems like everything I do involves the Internet.

It was so strange to feel so disconnected to the outside world. So many of my connections—friends, family and colleagues—are connected to me through the Internet. I was still in the same state and even some of the same cities, but I might as well have been up in the mountains without running water and I’d feel just as desolate.

I may be exaggerating a tad bit here, but my experience of being disconnected reminds me of a conversation I had with a family friend not so long ago. She was also worked doing medical transcription and she is retired now. She told me that when she worked they had to use shorthand. I was amazed just listening to her describe how she did her job, which essentially was the same job I was studying to do and how different it was then and now. It was really quite interesting. It definitely makes one appreciate all of the modernized techniques we are able to utilize now like computers and equipment that slows down, rewinds, and fast-forwards recordings.

I was also thinking how much the occupation is changing right before my eyes. Now doctors can dictate their notes and voice recognition software will automatically type up the transcription. It’s insane how fast technology advances and how what we thought was the “best way” suddenly becomes obsolete.

These past few days have definitely opened my eyes to how fast things change and how techniques that once were new and exciting are now “the old way.”

My studies have essentially stalled. In the hassle of moving and trying to take care of a now-walking 11-month-old I haven’t had any extra time. I am hoping to be settled in by next week and wrapping up my studies. Then, I’ll finally be able to start applying for my long sought after career!

 

Homework Buddies

By: Jessica

Hello everyone, hope your week is going great so far.  We are already heading into March!!  So today I want to chit chat about study buddies.  I know for me in high school that was a code word to get my parents to let me have a boy over to hang out with.  But there are real ahp-pugs-vs-schoolstudy buddies and they tend to help some people and to some people they are a distraction.  So what is your preference?  To have a study buddy or not to have a study buddy?  What if you have no choice in having a study buddy? Yep you guessed it I have no choice.  And my study buddies are a total distraction.  My pugs! They are so stinking cute but Oooh sooo annoying.

So I am going to think out of the box and talk in3rd personas I am the pugs and this is what they say and think when it is time to do my homework.

Pugs (Boscoe Black one Boo boo Fawn color)

Bark, bark, bark she is going to sit down!!!! This is my chance to jump in her lap and search her for crumbs!!!

Me: Pugs get down please I have to get some work done. I pull out all my homework books, pens pencils and chocolates. Yes I need a treat to do my homework.

Pugs:  Oooh lookie lookie she has those amazing smelling treats that she never shares!  Just maybe just this once I can look cute enough she will give into me! They twirl around in a circle and never let their eyes leave off of my treats.

Me: Yall are so cute but it’s not going to get you any chocolate.  Now go lay down so I can get some work done. They continue to stare at me with their big eyes and smashed little noses.  So of course I have to pick them up and hold them and show them some love.  I put them back down and get ready to start my work.

Pugs: Play time!!! Goes and grabs squeaky toy. Yes mom just loves this sound; she always looks at me like she is going to steal it and squeaky all for herself.  Not this time mom it’s all mine.  But I will let you chase me, if you happen to catch me I may just share, but don’t get your hopes up.  Can’t catch me. Nom squeak nom….

Me: Lord help me to get some work accomplished today!

Pugs: Well she isn’t paying attention to me, I should just take a little nap before I have to wake her up at 2 am to go outside and search around for possums.

Ha-ha so yes this is what I normally go through when I need to sit down and actually get some work done.  Yes I could just lock them out of my office, but that is a whole different game for them.  In which paws are coming through the bottom of the door and a sad little whine is to be had by all.  The whining will not stop unless that door is opened. What we do for the love of our fur babies. Have a good week and enjoy your little study buddies.

A Rough Patch

By: Annie

Last week I covered a lot of material in Course 5. On top of all my other responsibilities, I felt like I was doing really well. The text made sense, the Practice Exercises went really well and the Practice Reports were some of the best I had done so far. I took 2 quizzes in the span of just a couple days and the first came back great, I got an A! Then I took the second quiz, submitted it and expected similar results. That’s far from what happened!

dont-give-up-ahp-blog

The results I got were not the greatest. I was actually surprised to see my grade! After the shock of the disappointing grade wore off, I sat down and looked through the Quiz to see just where I had gone wrong and I was amazed. There wasn’t any giant error or misunderstanding on my part—it was a bunch of little errors that I could have definitely prevented.

My instructor was very encouraging and helpful. She left me a message at the top of my grade to let me know I needed to keep working hard, refer to my flash terms as needed and check over my quizzes before I submit them. I thought I had, but as I was reviewing my wrong answers it was very apparent to me on one of the reports that I had completely forgotten to proofread. I had one answer I was going to check on and fill in and it completely slipped my mind.

On another quiz I had some words misspelled and they weren’t even terminology from the text, they were simple words I’ve known since I was in high school. I had two letters on another word transposed. By the end of reviewing my quiz, I was really disappointed and frustrated with myself. I knew I could do better, but I was just so tired and ready to get another quiz submitted I hadn’t taken the time to properly review it before I did so.

I’ve done that before in my life so this definitely isn’t a first time experience for me. I get comfortable with a task or project I’m working on and instead of keeping a consistent watchful eye I just assume I know what I’m doing and it comes back to bite me. I’m glad I learned this lesson in practice, though and not after I have a job. This was definitely a good reminder that I always need to be vigilant with my work to make sure I am keeping up to the standard I have set for myself.

I hope your studies are all continuing to go well and that if you had an unpleasant quiz like I recently did, you were able to pinpoint where you went wrong and improve from there! Happy studying!

 

Distraction

By: Jessica

Hello everyone I hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to dive head first into the new week ahead. Today I want to discuss distractions. We all have them some of us have several rather it be children spouses or even technology. Distractions are everywhere you go. For me it is a constant battle to stay the course and not get distracted. Do you ever find your self cleaning your house you start in one room and pickup something that belong in another room so you start cleaning in another room? I do this and I swear that is why it takes me hours to clean my house. distractionSo my new solution is to have a basket in every room and if I find something that does not belong in that room I toss it in the basket so when I am done cleaning that room I just take the basket with me to the next. Surprising this has helped me stay focused on the task at hand. This also goes hand in hand when going to school online. You have to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand. Set a specific time of when you will do your work and do not let the distractions get in your way. I know when there are days that I need to do homework and I swear I can find any and every other thing that needs to be done besides homework. Thus my distractions. My biggest distractions are my dogs or cell phone. I try to lock my dogs out of the office while I am doing homework but even when they are locked out of the room they sit outside the door and stick their paws under the door and whine. So my next plan of action is to buy there favorite chewy yes it will be annoying hearing them knaw on it but will keep them busy enough to behave. Next is my cell phone. You know that green little light that flashes when you have a notification. That light drives me bonkers. And I never knew it could be shut off until a week or so ago. So again there are many distractions in life but it will only distract you if you let it. So here are some ideas to stay focused.

  1. Get a planner and pencil in study dates and times
  2. Keep anything that may distract you out of your study zone.
  3. Make sure to let your friends and family know that you have specific study times and days.
  4. Reward yourself for jobs well done.

By staying focused with these helpful hints will cut down on the distractions and increase your knowledge of the subjects and also make the tie fly by faster. I hope that you are able to use some of these helpful tips and that they are easy to inherit. Enjoy your week and as always add your comments and suggestions below.

Finding the Time

By: Annie

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? I’ve certainly been feeling that way lately. There are so many different activities and commitments that occupy my time and I haven’t been able to properly manage my time like I would like to.

ahp-finding-time-calendar

I decided something needed to be done about it so I began blocking my time off. I usually look at my schedule a week at a time and block off the tasks that I know I need to accomplish each. For example, I know that I work every Tuesday and Thursday. I know that I need to buy groceries at some point, usually on the weekend. I know months ahead of time about appointments for my daughter and I that we need to get to. I’ve even started blocking off time for exercising and cleaning my house.

Once I have all the usual and expected activities I look at the smaller tasks for each day of the week and determine how they will fit into my schedule. My brother is currently in basketball season so I usually go to one or two of his games a week. I have to schedule time every day to bathe my daughter. And then, of course, I have to figure out how studying is going to fit into all of my other activities.

If you remember from before, I generally enjoy studying at night. When I have other activities in the evening, I try to fit my studying in during the morning or early afternoon hours. Generally, I try to guess when my daughter will be napping so I can study without any distractions.

So far, my new routine of blocking off time and scheduling my activities a little more consciously has really paid off. I’ve been getting more studying done and in longer stretches of time. I tend to just do things as I feel like doing them, so scheduling my daily activities and then sticking to that schedule has taught me accountability and time management.

Maybe you have the whole scheduling thing figured out or maybe you are like I was and you just do things as you feel like doing them. Whatever the case may be I hope it’s working for you and if it isn’t, maybe it’s time to try a new technique. You might be surprised and find out how helpful scheduling can be!

I have just turned in my second quiz in a week’s time, which is way more progress than I have been making so I’m pretty proud of myself and my new scheduling system! Happy studies to you all!