Counsellors, like everyone else, need to know how to manage time effectively. For those moving into private practice, it can come as quite a shock to realise that there are many conflicting demands organising day-to-day activities, generating income and balancing business and professional matters as well as personal needs.
Typical tasks in a working week
To start you thinking about your time management needs, take some time to think about the tasks associated with your work and how much time these take up.
Although a 30-hour week may seem a very attractive option to those working for voluntary sector organisations, they often do not take into account the time needed for a variety of other activities, for example, corresponding, typing, posting letters, travelling time, marketing activities, emotional effect of seeing clients, training requirements, attendance at local support groups, networking and time spent expanding services. It is not uncommon for counsellors to also act as counselling supervisors and/or trainers and the needs and time allocation for each additional work area need to be taken into account.
In addition, you also have to allow for the unexpected – such as calls from clients, contacts from other agencies, machine maintenance such as computer servicing, upgrading or breaak-down. Working on the principle that no one works at 100 per cent efficiently all the time, work study officers make an automatic allocation of 12.5 per cent of time as a normal ‘relaxation allowance’ for lost time and natural breaks. There is no reason why counsellors should not make a similar allowance. The average working week could, therefore, quite easily extend to between 40 and 45 hours.
Time also needs to be allocated for domestic and social life. There are on-going household chores to consider, to say nothing of rest and relaxation time, hobbies and time for friends and family. Counsellors need to lead a balanced life like anyone else. Indeed, given the work that we do it is perhaps even more important that we recognise our own needs and make time to lead as balanced a life as possible.
Thanks Gladeana, that’s a really useful briefing. I am currently studying which involves reading, writing as well as documenting, seeing clients, networking, marketing, as well as being a single parent and looking after a home. It’s the stuff that is unexpected that always seems to take up the most time and bit me on the bum!
The unexpected can throw you off kilter. Making sure what gets done is a priority can help manage such situations as can overcoming the idea of getting everything done. When there are only 168 hours in a week, the reality is that we sometimes have to accept we can’t do everything.