One of the hardest parts of being a family Caregiver is time management. There are just NEVER enough hours in the day! Most Caregivers are juggling multiple responsibilities and usually caring for multiple people, like maybe an aging parent and also a child at home. Add on a full time job, a spouse, personal projects and life in general, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a growing To Do list.
Here are 10 tips to improve your time management skills, which in turn, will lower your stress levels!
1. Plan ahead
Many times we tell ourselves that we “don’t have time to plan”, when in actuality, we don’t have time NOT to plan! This could be organizing your calendar for the week on a Sunday, creating a meal plan for your trip to the grocery store, or even coordinating caregiver services for your loved one. Taking 15 minutes to “plan” will save your hours of confusion and frustration down the road.
2. Schedule “me time” first
Lets be honest, in a crunch, the FIRST thing to get kicked to the curb is self care and personal time. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup! When planning for your day or week, pencil in time for yourself to recharge and hold yourself to doing it.
3. Define roles and responsibilities
When working with others to care for an aging loved one, expectations need to be clear on roles and responsibilities so everyone is on the same page. If not, tasks will fall through the cracks, tempers flair and more time is spent scrambling and re-arranging schedules to fix the mix-up.
4. Make a list and write it down
Taking the information and tasks you need to do out of your head and onto a written list is a great way to make sure you’re being effective with your time, and allows you to create a gameplan instead of flying from one task to the next with no direction.
5. Prioritize your To Do list
Speaking of, once you have your list, PRIORITIZE IT! Not every task is equally important. Complete harder or more urgent tasks first to guarantee you feel good about what you accomplished that day.
6. Be strategic
Once you’ve prioritized your To Do list, be strategic about tackling it! What can you “double up” on? For example: maybe you can call your family member while you’re folding laundry. Another tip is to piggyback your errands. For example, if you have to go grocery shopping and deposit a check at the bank this week, plan to do both on the same trip out to avoid multiple trips!
Studies show that when there is clutter and confusion in our environment, our brain tends to act the same way. This impacts our ability to focus and slows down our productivity. Spending a few minutes to clear the kitchen table before sitting down to tackle your agenda will make a big difference on how quickly you get it done.
8. Accept Help
This is one of the HARDEST things for a family Caregiver to do and is one of the most important! Asking for help, and more importantly ACCEPTING IT will make a huge impact on your time management and stress levels. It takes a village!
9. Have a morning routine to set the tone
Studies show that people who have a focused morning routine are more productive and intentional throughout the rest of the day. Taking control of your mindset and “setting the tone” for the day is incredibly empowering. Try integrating a gratitude journal or some light stretching.
10.Avoid procrastination paralysis
This is a toughie. Procrastination is an easy habit to fall into, especially when it comes to tasks we don’t want to do! Avoid adding things to your To Do list by immediately just getting it done. For example, document and file your prescription receipts or doctor documents as soon as you get them, instead of “getting to it later”.