We’ve all been that social worker who says…“I don’t have enough time… there are not enough hours in the day.”
Am I right?
I know because I’ve said those words many times too. And complaining about time never magically made more of it appear.
I know…I’ve tried😳.
All of that changed when I started looking at my time differently.In today’s post I’m going to share with you some simple tools I use to “find” more time.
You ready? Let’s do this.
About a month ago I pledged to do three things more to help social workers:
- Write Everyday
- Teach Everything I Know
- Work In Public
Last week I put all of those things into practice by teaching a live webinar to SWS subscribers about time management and social worker self-care:
If you missed it, don’t worry, we’ve got more trainings coming soon.
I’ve heard some great metaphors for time:
Time is like land. We need to care for the little bit we’ve been entrusted.
Time is like money: No amount of complaining about “not having enough” will create more of it.
Author Peter Drucker has a great quote too about time and money:
Time is like money too: We tend to spend it better when we know how much we have left.
The time paradox then is: Time is simultaneously precious and abundant.
I think it helps to show you an example.
For my birthday last year my wife and daughter bought me a life calendar (non-affiliate). The life calendar is my life on a single sheet of paper measured in weeks. Here’s what mine looks like:
Each square represents a week of my life from birth to (optimistically😎) age 90.
In one regard there are so many boxes…4690 to be exact. But I’ve already used close to 2000. The colors aren’t important, but If you’re curious here’s my color code:
I like looking at my life in weeks for a couple of reasons. Reason one, we tend to live in weekly cycles. Here’s what I mean:
- Mondays: meetings, make phone calls, and run reports
- Tuesdays: case management, phone calls, and outreach
- Wednesdays: psychotherapy group, and have team/staff meetings
- Thursdays: administrative, conference calls, long range planning
- Fridays: drive my daughter to school, publish blog posts,date night (😎+😘)
- Saturdays: go to the farmers market with my family, watch football (Roll Tide🐘)
- Sundays: go to church and rest
Reason two, if I have a bad week, I get a “new box” to start with the next week. The recurring blank box comforts me with the hope that the next week can be better.
Think of your weekly life calendar as the thirty thousand foot view of your life. You also benefit from taking closer look at the runway view. Let’s look at how to do that.
Social Worker Time Diary
If you want to lose weight, nutritionists tell you to track the food you consume. If you want to get out of debt, financial planners tell you to track your spending.
It’s the idea that, “What gets measured and monitored gets improved.”
Time works the same way:
When you know how much time you have (or don’t have), you are more selective and intentional with how you spend it.
I suggest you look at your weeks close-up too…how are you using your days and hours in a week?
One tool to audit where you spend your time is a Time Tracking Diary. (Click Here)
Record all of your actions for a week. You can color code your cells like I did, or you can print it and color it with colored pencils. Here’s peak at snapshot of one of my weeks:
When I did my first time diary, I could visually see where my time was spent. I was surprised to see how much small blocks of wasted time added up over the week.Tracking your time is habit that takes practice. Try not to leave unaccounted for time. Tracking for a day or two is good, but tracking a full 168 hours is a better snapshot.
Another tool I like to use is Hours Tracker app (non-affiliate).
You can easily track your time with just a few taps on your phone or clock in and clock out as you work. There is a free version, but the $4.99 pro version is totally worth it. This app is really handy when you’re out of the office on the go.
You don’t have to track it all the time, but a few focused sessions can go along way in the find-time-hunt.
“Pay yourself first” is a popular phrase in the personal finance and retirement planning lingo. I suggest social workers can pay ourselves first too with time.
From the moment you take your first breath of life, your clock is ticking. Every man, woman, and child…every social worker…every human is going to do whatever they are going to do with the time they have allotted.
Social workers regularly tell me one of their biggest struggles is time management. You can find more time, but first you have to know where all your time is going. Do the detailed work of tracking where your time goes, and review it regularly.
Be on the lookout for more training opportunities from Social Worker Success. Hope to see you there.