Time Management For Caregivers: An Essential Skill
Time is no one's friend. There are so many commitments fighting for your time and attention, including the loved one for whom you're caring. Research from the Family Caregiver Alliance shows more than one in six Americans are working and providing care for someone, with more than half of caregivers working full-time. Add kids, friends and other family members and you've got a lot of balls to juggle.
If you feel there's just never enough time, you're not alone. We understand what you're going through and want to help you be able to get more done with less stress.
The Basics of Time Management
Time management skills are a must for caregivers. They're also important for nearly every other part of your life. Some of the most important skills you need to effectively manage your time include:
- Organization: It's the key to knowing exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.
- Evaluation: Prioritize your tasks and responsibilities, either by importance, time-sensitivity, or length of time it takes to complete them. Set goals, both short- and long-term.
- Plan: Create a blueprint for your day (or week) and how you'll accomplish the goals you've set.
Time Management for Caregivers: Tips You Can Use
Caregivers and stress go hand in hand, and that stress can affect even the most resilient person. But small changes can make a big difference. When you're able to feel more in control of how you're spending your time, you'll start feeling less stress.
Make a List, Check It Twice
On a regular basis sit and make a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, appointments, goals, supplies you're going to need and other important details. Get in the habit of checking that list periodically to prioritize everything you need to do and to stay on top of everything while you're whittling the list down. This lets you avoid last-minute scrambles to rearrange your schedule for doctor's visits or a mad dash to the store to stock up on medications or supplies that have run out.
Put Yourself First
While you're making that list, make sure you include time for yourself. To be effective and efficient as caregivers we have to care for ourselves. Even with a hectic schedule, you can fit "me" time in by asking for help from friends or other family members or hiring someone to give you a little more time. If you need a little getaway or extended time, consider looking into respite care.
Manage Your Expectations
It's all too easy to assume you're always going to be able to take care of things exactly as you do right now. But if your responsibilities increase or if the situation becomes more intense, that may not be true. Just as you're going to need to prioritize and reprioritize that list, you're also going to need to adjust and readjust your expectations about how much you'll be able to accomplish and the level of perfection you can achieve.
When your mind is out to lunch, it's tough to efficiently tackle the task at hand. Instead of thinking about everything else you need to accomplish, put your full focus on what you're doing at that moment. You'll be more present, relaxed, and better able to focus on your tasks and responsibilities. Not only will you be less stressed, you'll also be able to really experience your life and all its facets more fully.
Practice the 'One Touch' Method
Handles things at hand while they're in your hands. For example, instead of putting the mail in a pile in the entryway, tackle it as soon as you get it from the mailbox. The same idea can be used for everything from paperwork to caregiving supplies. Take the time to organize and put things where they go now instead of having them become an extra burden to add to your to-do list in the future.
Time management helps increase your resiliency as a caregiver. It won't eliminate the possibility of other things popping up along the way and throwing your schedule off. But it will put you in the driver's seat, more capable of taking control and navigating the road forward.