A care home manager’s work is never done. You’re under constant pressure from your employees, residents and their families and friends, the organisation’s hierarchy, and regulatory bodies. You are pulled first one way, then another, and another. Meanwhile your to-do list keeps growing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
If this sounds familiar, then these six-time management tips could help you become more productive, increase your free time, and, perhaps most importantly, keep you sane!
Time management – the key to success as a care home manager?
If you look at some of the most productive people of yesterday and today, you’ll wonder how they manage to keep on top of everything and still have time to themselves. For example:
- Winston Churchill is famous for his leadership during World War II. A period during which he rarely missed family time for lunch and dinner, and always took an hour’s nap at 5pm.
- Barack Obama has a daily routine, which includes spending a few hours in the morning with his family. He takes time to exercise, and has breakfast and dinner with his family.
- From the world of business, Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) spends two hours every morning preparing meals for his children, exercising, and organising the day ahead.
- Evan Williams always spends a couple of hours each day in the gym, and fits in founding and running companies like Twitter and Blogger around his personal life.
How do such people achieve a great work/life balance? According to a 2014 study conducted for entrepreneur.com, Fortune 500 company leaders work eight hours or less each day. But it’s how they spend their time that is most revealing:
- 25 minutes developing strategy and planning
- 105 minutes interacting with their teams and people
- 105 minutes on personal tasks and projects
- 30 minutes on personal development
How do they spend so much time on themselves? The answer is great time management. With great time management, you’ll be more productive at work, spend more time with friends and family, and have more time to do the things you really want to do.
tip #1: Know your goals
Think about what you want to achieve, and write down your professional and personal goals:
- Long-term goals are those you want to achieve in five or 10 years, perhaps even longer.
- Medium-term goals are those for the next few months to five years. Link these to your long-term goals, like stepping stones.
- Weekly goals are derived from your medium-term goals.
tip #2: Prioritise your to-do list
Having a to-do list not only keeps you focused, but it also helps you to be an effective time manager. You won’t get to the end of another busy week and realise you have another two hours work to do on a project before you can go home.
When writing your to-do list, make sure everything on it helps you work towards your weekly goals. As time management expert Stephen Covey said, “The Key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
tip #3: Forget multitasking
Multitasking is a myth. For sure, you can do two or three simple tasks at the same time – drive and listen to the radio, for example. Otherwise, multitasking only causes you to lose focus. You flipflop between tasks, and they end up taking longer to do. Because you haven’t given them total focus, they probably don’t get done as well as they should.
Forget multitasking. Stick to one thing at a time. Make time for it, get into the flow, and complete it before moving onto the next task on your to-do list.
tip #4: Take breaks!
This sounds counterintuitive. Surely, taking breaks eats up time. But many studies have shown that taking breaks increases productivity.
A break allows your brain to recharge. It also gives your mind time to wonder – have you ever noticed how many fantastic ideas pop into your head when you’re daydreaming?
Figure out the work pattern that works best for you (for many, this is a work period of around 90 minutes, followed by a break of 20 minutes). You’ll retain focus and increase your personal productivity.
What type of break should you take? Well, it must not be related to work, and it should not require concentration. Avoid the temptation to check social media during your breaks. Instead, go for a walk, have a coffee, listen to music, phone a good friend…
tip #5: Delegate
Many care home managers find it difficult to delegate tasks to others. But micromanaging is never a good practice. When you delegate tasks to others and share the responsibility, you bring them into your inner circle. You show them they are valued, and that you believe in them. And you free your time to concentrate on your priorities.
Of course, to be able to delegate, you must have people who you can trust to do the job required. Now review your list of goals. Have you included training your staff for a career in care? This will increase your staff retention numbers, increase employee engagement, and improve your staff retention numbers. If training employees isn’t on your list of priorities, shouldn’t it be?
tip #6: Have a routine
When you have a routine, you remain in control of your time. You’ll be proactive instead of reactive. You’ll be more at ease with every day. You’ll suffer less stress. Create a morning and evening routine. Your morning routine gets you in the right frame of mind and prepares you for the day ahead. Your evening routine closes the day off, prepares for tomorrow, and makes sure you get a good night’s sleep.
What time management tricks do you use to keep focused? How do you retain a great work/life balance? How have you ensured that you always have reliable colleagues to whom you can delegate tasks?
We’d love to hear from you – contact StriveCare today. Your time management methods could help other care home managers be as productive as you are.