Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time management

When someone struggles with time management, it can mean so many different things.  Often, with my clients, is means they miss too many appointments, or else they feel they do not have enough to do with their time.  Sometimes, they have enough to do, but are looking for a way to structure their time.  For myself, time management means finding a balance between the many competing demands for my time. 

If a client is missing too many appointments (a common reason for referral), and genuinely wants to make it to appointments, the right calendar, used in the right way, can work wonders.  Generally, I have found, the bigger the better.  A desk calendar (available at some $1/$2 stores),  hung up on the wall in a very visible place makes it hard to ignore.  A really important consideration is to ensure there is only one calendar, as it is very easy to get mixed up with appointments written on different calendars.

A common problem is not knowing what day it is, which can make a calendar useless.  Checking the weather station on TV can help if the person remembers to do it.  Another strategy I like, is to have the client cross off the day every morning, and check what is written for the current day.  To remember to cross off the day, I try to link it to an already established routine.  A favourite of mine is to place a sticky note on the coffee maker as coffee-drinkers rarely forget their morning cup of coffee.  A sticky note reminder can also be placed on a medication package.  Just remember to change the colour of the sticky note at least once a week so the client keeps seeing it. 

The situation where the client feels he or she does not have enough to do will have to be discussed in a future blog, because that is really about finding meaningful leisure and productivity activities.

For providing structure to time, there are a couple different options.  The one I have used most often is to create a weekly schedule, listing what will be done at what time of day, on what day.  This includes writing in things like hygiene, exercise, calling a relative, etc.  Many clients struggle to keep up with this long-term, but it can help them to get on a roll in the short-term.  I have had a couple clients really take ownership of it and continue on using it independently.  Another option is to create a checklist of daily routines, although this allows less flexibility for things such as appointments.

What have I found helpful for the overly busy shedule?  A huge calendar posted right beside where my family eats has helped.  Periodically re-evaluating my life and deciding what I would like to do more of and less of has been very helpful.  I went to a talk by Victoria Maxwell where she asked us to write out the things in our lives that bring us joy and balance.  I found it interesting to see what was on my list and even more so to see what was not on my list.  At that point in time, my list did not match how I was spending my time.  Learning how to say "no" is a very important skill I am still working on.  Scheduling in "me" time has also been helpful. 

For more information on time management, check out my website -

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