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Section 20
Making Time for Alzheimer's & Low-Functioning...
by Setting Priorities to Make More Time for Activities

Table of Contents

Setting Priorities
In the book The Time Trap, Alec Mackenzie states, “I practiced the art of getting more things done rather than getting the few really important things done well.” Well-intentioned Activity Directors and staff some­times get themselves into trouble by assigning equal importance to buying paperclips as they do to preparing a presentation to recruit new volunteers.  Try as we might, the realities of our busy lives force us to set priorities. Have you experienced difficulties in your Activity Department as a result of unclear priorities?  Hmmm… or maybe you don't need to answer that. J

Identifying priorities
What are your priorities in your facility? In your department?  And how do you match time and re­sources to the priorities you have chosen? Sometimes identifying your priorities out of the myriad demands making claims on your time can be a difficult task in itself.  Here are some ideas in addition to the ones previously presented to help you focus more clearly and set priorities.

What's at stake?
When all tasks seem equal in importance, ask yourself “What’s at stake?  How disappointed/distressed/in the hole will I be at the end of the day if I don’t get this done?”


What's at stake?







Limit your choices. 
Paralyzed in setting priorities?  Limit your choices.  List a task that you need to limit.  For example, you have thirty Progress Notes to write that are overdue.  Write the names of the five residents below that you will get started with.





Way to Limit this task to motivate myself to get started:




Work toward the high payoff
•   Block out time each day for the task that will yield the biggest payoff—a task with potential long-term benefits. Now this is an opposite idea from the one presented in the previous Section where you listed your most dreaded task. Say you’d like to submit an article to a professional journal, which will gain you recognition with your Corporation, perhaps leading to a promotion to be a consultant. Each day, assign yourself one task connected to the "submit an article" project:  The first step might be to “Make an outline,” the second step might be to “Review related material,” or "Interview other Activity Directors," etc.  Or maybe your "high payoff" task is cleaning your Activity Room closet.

To help you identify priorities, list one task from your To-Do List or your Daily Task List that you define as having a high payoff.


High payoffs
Write below the task from your list in the previous Section that has the biggest payoff, for whatever personal reason you may have.  Consider making these tasks A or #1 priority to get you motivated to take action.









Avoid the “low-priority trap”
•   To keep your priorities in focus, ask yourself periodically throughout the day, “What are my number ones?”  Remember in Section five of the Manual you did a priority grouping, assigning tasks a number one for high priority.  In his book The Time Trap, Alec Mackenzie uses the example of a stressed out manager who is stuck on giving just one more instruction to his secretary instead of leaving on time for the airport!  And his flight took off in forty-five minutes! In Mackenzie's terms, this manager was indulging in what he terms “the 3's trap.” Focusing on low priority items might result in failing to meet his most important number one priority… namely, catching his flight!  Agree?  What was more important, catching his flight or giving more instructions to his secretary?  Clearly he could call his secretary on his cell as he drove to the airport or once he was at the airport.  Do you see how he got stuck in his low level number three priorities?  How often has this happened to you? Think back to your last day at work.  Did you spend time on "level 3" priority items?  Did you drop the ball on some "level one" priorities?

If you have dropped some level one priority tasks, what is your plan for tomorrow to avoid being caught in again by your "low-priority trap?"


Avoid the low-priority trap. 
List tasks from the preceding Section that you feel are low-priority.  Allocate a little time each day to: 1. Do them yourself;  2. Delegating them;  3. Keeping them low-priority, because they are in fact still low-priority

Set your priorities in motion
•   Take a few minutes daily to review your top few priorities for the day by moving tasks from your To-Do List to your Daily Task List and plan when you are going to do them.
•   If you have an assistant, ask him or her to give you a list of what he or she considers to be his or her priorities for the following day.
Go over the list together and then ask your assistant to make a list of the top projects, activities, or tasks for tomorrow, creating their Daily Task List at the end of the day.

Low Priority Tasks

Action Taken







If you are not feeling highly motivated to implement any of the preceding ideas, think again!.  The Implementation of Culture Change requires cooperation from other departments.  You are requesting schedule changes, transporting, and doing activities.  In order to make these requests and provide training for other staff, the more professional and organized you present yourself, the more likely the other department heads, therapists, CNAs, etc. are to treat you with respect and take your Culture Change requests seriously.  Agree?  So I suggest you strongly consider rereading the preceding section more than once.  Sift through it to find the ideas you need to implement.

Forward to Section 21
Back to Section 19

Table of Contents