5 Time Management Tips for Social Workers

If you’re a student who is studying to become a social worker, then you are most likely a person who wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Social work is a wonderful calling that is both rewarding and challenging, and you’ll be in a position to help others improve their lives by helping them deal with their own specific problems.

One drawback is that social workers are generally assigned very large caseloads, and it can be difficult to meet the needs of all of your clients. These are just a few tips that will help you manage your time and be more effective at your job.

1. Make Referrals a Priority

During your time with each client, it will be up to you to listen carefully to their concerns while assessing pertinent risks so that you can make referrals to the correct support services. Once you’ve identified any specific needs, you should make the referrals right away. Whether the referral is for a placement in a treatment center or an appointment for counseling, getting it done quickly may greatly benefit your client and lessen your caseload once their needs are met.

2. Plan Ahead

Go ahead and take a moment to make a few notes in regards to exactly why you are about to make contact with either a client or another professional to discuss the needs of a client. Whether it’s a phone call or a personal meeting, you’ll be more effective if you have a specific agenda that dictates what actually needs to be accomplished during this time. Stay focused, and you’ll be able to get your work done in a much more timely manner.

3. Consider Color-Coding Your Workload

As a social worker, everything that you do on behalf of your clients is going to be important work. However, some matters are simply more pressing than others and need to be addressed in a more immediate manner. You can use simple colored stickers to help organize your workload. For example, a red sticker may be placed on things that must be done right away such as finding a placement in a nursing home for an elderly client or filing for emergency food stamps for a destitute mother with young children. You may use yellow stickers for tasks that require a bit less urgency and green for those things that must be done but can wait a day or two.

4. Make Time for Paperwork

Paperwork will play a big part in your role as a social worker because your clients may suffer if all of the forms aren’t filled out correctly and in full. Take at least an hour a day to devote to just paperwork. When you can, schedule a time at the end of each day, and don’t take any phone calls or visitors during that time.

5. Return Calls Each Morning

You can enjoy a fresh start to your day by returning any phone calls that you missed from the previous work day. If you are only able to leave a message, then do your best to provide any vital information to help ensure that another phone call won’t be necessary.

If social work is your true calling, then you shouldn’t be put off by the potential for a large caseload. According to the United States Department of Labor, jobs for social workers are growing by leaps and bounds. That’s just another great reason to go after your degree and the job of your dreams.