- poorly maintained filing systems, eg filing not done on a regular basis
- no system to identify relevant information, eg papers and documents – or their computer equivalent – simply ‘thrown into a pile’
- indiscriminate retention of all that is received, thereby filling valuable space and creating a time management problem in locating items – the ‘just in case’ principle.
Clear out documentation ‘clutter’
If you are motivated to improve your time management it may be useful to appoint yourself a ‘clutter consultant’. Some people are natural hoarders who find it difficult to part with anything. Recently a colleague or mine whose counselling room was immaculate but whose office had become a ‘paper-mountain’ found it a useful, if difficult, experience to allow his partner to take charge of ‘de-cluttering his office. This exercise led to the clearing of 35 large black sacks of non-sensitive information. However, whilst jettisoning non-essential items ultimately saves time, this only works if a new system is put in place to prevent the same problem recurring.
Allocate time to write up client notes
Although the majority of counsellors would not break into a counselling session unless an emergency situation arose, of if it was in the client’s best interest to do so, they do not necessarily apply the same rule regarding interruptions to the rest of their working lives. Take, for example, the case of the counsellor’s administration space in an open-plan office. Here, unwanted telephone calls, unexpected visitors, or ad hoc discussions may eat into the counsellor’s limited time.
This is particularly true for those who work on a sessional basis where the completion of client notes immediately after a client session assumes greater importance. Since many agencies do not allow client information to leave the premises, it is crucial to complete the notes there and then. Doing so a day or more later may lead to loss of information and of process type detail. This is particularly true for the counsellor seeing four or five clients a day.