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
    help.

    Prioritise
    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
    else.
    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 Ditch what is unnecessary or out of date and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.

    Delegate
    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
    says.
    “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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