How to manage time effectively

Ever get the feeling you’ve got so much work on that you don’t
know where to start? Heavy caseloads, paperwork and staff shortages
leave many social care professionals feeling overwhelmed by their
workload and complaining that it eats into the time they have to
spend with service users. Time management skills may not eradicate
the problem completely but they should go a long way towards
alleviating it. Some organisations provide time management courses,
but you can start by looking at how you organise yourself at work,
what tasks and processes could be dropped and where you need

Prioritise your workload, both in the short and the long term. If
you’ve got a particularly bad week ahead, then make decisions about
how you are going to tackle it. Grant Tevendale, senior support
worker at Enterprise 5 Housing Association, finds daily list-making
is essential for organising his time and making sure important jobs
get done. For more long-term planning, make a list of your regular
tasks and responsibilities and decide which are the most important.
You might discover that some can be shelved or given to someone
Make it a rule to always tackle the most important tasks first,
even if they are the ones you like doing least.

Get organised
It is very easy to put off mundane jobs such as filing, but you can
save yourself a lot of time and hassle by sorting out your desk,
files and computer. Ditch what is unnecessary or out of date and
file the rest.

Many people find it hard to let go. They just can’t bring
themselves to trust other people to do the job. But, if you have
certain responsibilities that could be done by a colleague or
someone junior – and might actually be good for their career
development – think about passing them on. Make sure you are doing
it for the right reasons and not just dumping some of your workload
on someone else. And if you do delegate, let them know what is
expected and keep an eye on progress, without interfering every
five minutes.
If you’re delegating a task on a routine basis, Tevendale says this
should be formalised and become part of the colleague’s work
development plan.

Don’t let things slip
If you are having a particularly busy week or something
unexpected comes up, it doesn’t mean everything else should go out
of the window. Tevendale says anyone in a management position needs
to be able to juggle all their responsibilities and maintain
contact with their team. “It’s important to keep things on the
agenda even if there’s pressure for them to be dropped,” he
“Don’t let things like supervision of staff get sidelined.”

Do not suffer in silence
If you keep on ploughing through the workload, then
chances are nobody will do anything to help you. They will assume
you are coping and may even pile more work on you. Also, if you do
have too much work and it is affecting the quality of your output,
then you need to let your line manager know or it could reflect
badly on other people’s perception of your performance.

Evaluate the processes
Are you working in the most efficient manner? Are there processes
that could be adapted or dropped to make your working life easier?
Take a fresh look at how you and your team operates – just because
things have always been done one way doesn’t mean that it’s the
best way.

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