5 Ways To Effectively Manage Your Time As A Social Worker

Social work is a continually growing field, drawing the attention of hundreds of people every day. Not only is it a rewarding career choice, but it is also one that comes with the utmost personal satisfaction. Helping others always feels great.

Woman in Gray Jacket Sitting Beside Desk

Social work is also a very diverse field with many jobs in schools, healthcare, law, and various social and community life aspects. Psychiatric social workers help patients with mental disorders. Family social workers help dysfunctional families, and forensic social workers provide special services to criminals and juveniles in the legal system. The list goes on, and although each social worker has very different responsibilities, the one problem they all have in common is time management.

There is no doubt that social work is a very gratifying career, but it does come with many challenges. Social workers are usually overburdened and overworked. Not only do they have to overlook their administrative, management, or counseling duties, they are also expected to be present whenever an unexpected problem arises. It is challenging for them to focus on things other than work.

Time management is critical, but how can social workers become proficient at time management? Below, we have listed a few tips that can help social workers manage their time better.

Choose your specialization carefully.

Choosing the correct field is very important if you want to manage your time efficiently. Often, social workers step into an area only because it is in-demand and eventually lose interest. This results in a reluctance to do work, and deadlines start piling up. A bit of prior research can help you decide what field is correct for you. For instance, a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) can help narrow down your choices, after which you can continue with a major’s in a niche field.

Other than that, most social work jobs now require a minimum Bachelor’s degree in the respective field. Due to the on-going demand, many universities and colleges have started offering an online BSW program to facilitate distance and part-time learning. Now you can choose to attend classes physically or virtually and get an education on social work with ease. The point being; choose a specialization or area of work that sparks a fire in you to do better and not burn out.

Make a to-do list

Making and following a schedule is useful for time management in every field. However, this can be tricky for social workers because most of them are likely to have different plans every day. A better alternative is to make a regular to-do list and religiously follow it. Pen down all your daily tasks and duties along with their respective timings. Colour coding your list according to each task’s priority will make your life easier. For instance, highlight all the urgent tasks with red, semi-urgent with yellow, and rest as green. This way, you’ll know what has to be done first and what can wait.

If two tasks require equal time and importance, then use the divide and conquer technique. Assign either tasks half of your time or do each alternately. Either way, you will be able to complete both of them simultaneously.

Set limits

As a social worker, you will often struggle with setting boundaries simply because of your job’s nature. Usually, stakeholders will become too attached or too dependent on your services, because of which even you might find it hard to say no. For instance, reminding your client that they have 10 minutes left at first might seem rude, but if you don’t, they might take up too much of your time, leaving you behind schedule. Hence, it is imperative to set limits. It is not only in your best interest but also in your client’s best interest.

Similarly, notifying your partners, co-workers, or assistants about your availability is also essential. It will help you avoid getting roped in a full day of work without any time for yourself.

Make use of technology.

Once you have penned down your tasks and set your boundaries, it is time to implement them. You would be surprised to see how much of your time technology can save. Having designated means of communication for clients, colleagues, and others will help you out a lot.

For example, you can choose to communicate with your client via emails, calls, or text. But, choose one. It can become too irritating if you get bombarded with numerous emails, phone calls, and messages simultaneously. Similarly, ask your clients to communicate with you through a designated means.

Set designated hours for checking your emails, calls, and texts and inform your clients and colleagues about them. Turn off the notifications during your off-hours and keep a spare contact to use for emergency purposes only.

Make fair use of digital calendars! Plug in the time you are available and allow your clients and colleagues to schedule meetings or appointments accordingly. Most of these calendars are accessible on smartphones either through search engines or in-app form. You will be able to avoid the hassle of physically giving out appointments and chances of double booking.

Reward yourself

It is surprising how well this technique works. When you have something to look forward to post-work, you will most likely increase your productivity and have the urge to finish all your tasks for the day. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be grand; they can be simple things like a movie night or a pleasant dinner.

However, if you’re not one for the simple pleasures life has to offer and want to challenge yourself with a reward, consider pursuing an additional qualification. In fact, this will be an excellent opportunity to test your put your time management skills to the test and work towards broader career paths. For instance, if you’re a nurse working as a social worker, getting an online Doctor of Nursing Practice can help you land a job with greater job satisfaction. That in itself is a reward. Think about it!


Social work can be challenging and stressful. Time management can especially be a struggle when you are not flexible. You will have to learn how to adapt to the environment you are working in. It would be best if you were self-aware; aware of your personality, attitude, and how it affects your work. You must figure out what works for you and what does not.

Having a balance between your social and work life is essential. It will guard your mental health and keep you happy and satisfied. After all, what good is an unhappy and dissatisfied social working to humanity?