As summer turns into autumn there seems to be a subtle shift in the rhythm of the day. In this blog I have tried to explore the issue of time management and how it is problematic if we do not know what is involved in a task.
Children go back to school after the Summer, Universities and Colleges resume. This often increases the amount of time it takes us to get to and from work. The amount of day light is less and sometimes we can feel that suddenly we can have less time in the day.
Instead of a Spring clean maybe its time for a pre Winter review before all the additional extras begin to pile up.
I always feel the crucial part of any time management exercise is the diary in which ever form it comes. It must be current and accurate, and having an hour to review the previous week or month and plan the coming week or month can save hours in the long run. Try to identify on hour now that you can do this.
Honesty as in every area of life is the best policy in time management. The only person you are fooling here is yourself.
Look through your diary and identify your busiest most stressful week since January 2014. I know there may be more than one but you can repeat the exercise as many times as necessary. Use your favourite reflective tool, (remember this can be used as evidence for your HCPC document.) and explore the facts, your feelings, etc. Imagine if you had to relive that time again, how does that make you feel?
OK I am presuming it wasn’t good, mine involved acres of admin strewn all over the office floor which had to be sorted into various files for external people. Yes it was a pure admin job and yes I have to carry on doing it, yes I hate it.
So on reflection knowing what you know now (hindsight being the best thing) how could you have prevented the stress and anxiety? As an OT you are the world’s best in breaking down a task, if a client came to you with this issue what would you suggest? I realised I had started the whole task way too late and that put me under enormous pressure.
Identify how long activities take you, never mind if someone else does them quicker than you, note the time it takes you. Think about all the peripheral tasks phone calls, reading notes, talking to patients and staff, getting lost, writing up notes.
Knowing exactly what is involved in a task or that there is always a miscellaneous 20mins to every home visit or group even if the time you have allocated in your diary is one hour means that over a week you have to squeeze in an extra hour and forty mins, over a month that is an extra five hours and forty mins just on one task, multiply that by five mins per activity and suddenly you can see how overwhelming a week can feel.
So looking ahead and planning for the future be realistic with your timings, my group is 1.5 hours if I factor in travel, organising the room, dealing with any issues that always arise, writing up, and planning for the next session its almost 4 hours. I realised with my admin task I need to start in April a month earlier next year and I have put it in my diary for April 2015. If anything else comes up I can look and say I can’t make that date I already have something booked in.
Be kind to yourself, and realistic in what can be achieved in the time available.
I would love to hear if this was useful for you, or if you have any other burning issues, please let me know.
Margaret Spencer MA Consultant Occupational Therapist & Senior Lecturer LinkedIn Profile
A note from the author:
My blogs are a culmination of over thirty years experience working in Occupational Therapy, including material from my books and conference presentations.
They answer the real queries and questions that 100's of undergraduate and post graduate students, qualified OT's and managers, that I have had the privilege to work with and supervise continue to asked me.