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The caring manager in health and social care
The caring manager in health and social care

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3.3 Time management really can help

You can’t actually manage time. Time just is. All you can hope to do is manage yourself and what you do with your time.

(Evans, 2008, p. 1)

So far you have been concentrating on personal stress experienced by those in health and social care, whatever their position. Angelique had identified time management as an essential skill that helps to keep work under control, increase productivity and reduce stress. Effective time management can also help people complete their work tasks more efficiently, so they are able to have more quality time for relaxation, leisure, friends and family. Poor time management leads to frustration, lack of motivation and poor self-esteem, and it can even undermine health and wellbeing. People working in health and social care often care for highly vulnerable people. Good time management, therefore, is crucial to help ensure safety for yourself, the people you manage, recipients of care and those for whom you have caring responsibilities.

Time management is about more than writing a list of tasks; the keys to effective time management are goal awareness and personal awareness. You need to know what your important work tasks are (these may be related to your team and/or service) and consider the competing demands on your time and how to prioritise and delegate. You then need to be able to recognise your strengths and weaknesses and to find a way to manage yourself and your time better with this knowledge.

In the next activity, you can reflect on your own time management.

Activity 7 Time management

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

We all have an appreciation of our abilities in terms of time management, how would you describe your time management abilities? For instance, is time management a strength of yours? What assists (or hinders) your time management skills?

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Thinking about what you know about your own time management – what makes a difference? Is it taking regular breaks or practical tips. For example, some people find that breaking down big tasks into smaller ones is very helpful. In addition to turning off your email and phone whilst doing certain tasks (to assist you with your focus at work), you might have identified other ways of minimising interruptions, such as negotiating time with others around you. What leadership skills or other tools could you draw on to develop in this area? For example, do you find it hard to prioritise? Perhaps being clear about your own objectives would help. Now that you have thought a bit about your time management abilities you might find it useful to identify a couple of practical ways in which you could optimise your time while at work.

You have carried out a thorough exploration of how stress and anxiety can result from personal factors. It’s now time to look at the role of organisational factors in causing stress and anxiety.