Time Management
for the Activity Professional
Why is it that some people seem to have enough time in a day to do everything they set out to do, whereas many others find themselves rushing from task to task feeling that getting one thing done means another item will take its place on that never ending To Do List?

Not unlike most healthcare professionals, you’re already serving as a precious commodity focused on residents needs without compromising outcomes or quality of care. So how do you effectively divide time to do it all with increased documentation and ever-changing regulation requirements?

Some folks just seem to have it all together and present the appearance that the time in any given day is plentiful to get that list tackled. You may wonder if these achievers have less to do or less responsibilities or less of this or less of that. Truth be told, they have the same amount of work to get done but are mostly likely using their time more effectively because they are familiar with the practice of good “time management” skills.
Time Management Basics
It may feel like more time is expended initially but once well practiced, you will become more proficient at developing each rule of thumb concept. Then you will find yourself spending less time thinking about what needs to be done and more time providing for your residents.

Four D’s – The Choices:
Do It
Delete (or Decline)
Delay It
Delegate It

Prioritize Throughout the Day
Set goals to create a sense of purpose then develop a daily priority list of your work responsibilities to keep you from forgetting something – remember that this list needs to have some flexibility to accommodate and adjust to the unforeseen needs of the day. Post this list in a prominent location. Check it as soon as you get to work in the morning and throughout the day so you can easily update as needed and keep yourself accountable to that To Do List.

Do It: Get what you like least done first. Things you enjoy are a breeze and easier to tackle later no matter how the demanding the rest of the day plays out to be. Unfortunately doing the easy thing first can mean that the hard work gets put off for so long that you end up not doing it at all! Interesting to know that it’s more productive to take on the difficult or stressful part of a task first when you’re fresh to get it over with and then turn towards the easier less challenging work when your brain battery energy level begins to run low at the end of the day.

Delete (Decline): Be realistic about time and refrain from saying yes to those that keep asking you to do one more thing. Another telephone call to take, another meeting to attend, and then suddenly the day is done. Agree only to take on more projects as it fits into your desired time availability. Carefully consider requests and resolve demanding conflicting requests by assessing their order of importance as it relates to the tasks that you have already deemed a priority.

Delay It: There are some tasks that you will come across that may not necessarily need immediate attention. It might be an email or a telephone call. It justifiably belongs on your To Do List at “some” point during the day, but deserves a position further down the list.

Delegate: If you want something done right, do it yourself – right? That’s a negative, ladies and gentlemen. Adequately trained staff assistants, volunteers, and interns are more than willing to step up and take charge of the tasks they are qualified to do. Take advantage of those resources to open up more time in the day for tasks that only you can address.
Documentation Time
Carve out daily blocks of time in which your presence is less in demand. Let the staff know that you do not want to be interrupted by calls or staff interruptions. Multiple blocks of time may be more plausible if you cannot give yourself adequate time in one sitting. Create more than one block of time, shorter in duration, to complete documentation and stick to the schedule.

NOTE: Take Advantage of Technology
Electronic health record systems are quickly becoming the norm to help you be more efficient and organized throughout the day. The less time you spend juggling administrative paperwork and telephone calls, the more time you have to focus on your residents.
Scheduled Calendar Planning Time
Plan time in your day to make telephone calls, review resident interests and preferences and talk to the staff individually or in brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas and input to create your upcoming activity calendar. Consider early morning time frames with a “Cup of Joe” to set the stage to welcome staff ideas and contributions for the next calendar of events.
Review Your To Do List at the End of the Day
Reorganize your priority list at the end of the day to review first thing in the morning. Time spent at the end of the day will start your next day on target right out the gate to the finish line.
Have a topic request or question for Celeste? Send them over to celestechase@activitydirector.org
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