For caregivers, finding time to care for an elderly family member requires strict time management. Read our post to learn some time management tips and hone your time management skills.
Time Management Definition
Time management is strategically planning out your available time and controlling the amount of time you spend on specific tasks so you work more efficiently.
You probably know that time is a critical resource. Yet, it seems there is never enough time in the day, and as a caregiver, you don’t have much of it to spare.
However, if you can effectively manage your time, you’ll be able to handle the mental, physical and emotional stress of caregiving while still leading a full life.
The Importance of Time Management Skills
In any profession, getting the most done out of your working hours is a requirement.
As a caregiver for a loved one, you might find that, at times, it might be challenging to get as much finished as you had anticipated. This can happen for various reasons, e.g., your elder may need help with a time-consuming task or needs some emotional assistance, etc.
However, with proper time management skills, you can do all your tasks and still provide additional assistance if necessary.
Effective time management helps you control your workday to stick to your schedule without compromising your work-life balance. It can decrease caregiver stress and help prevent caregiver burnout and fatigue.
While some people can implement practical time management skills easier than others, everyone can develop and improve theirs over time.
Without solid time management, your work and wellbeing as a caregiver can suffer, and it can lead to all types of mental, physical, and emotional distress.
5 Pro Time Management Tips for Caregivers
As a caregiver, building your time management skills starts with examining how you usually do things—and thinking about how you might be more efficient. Here are a couple of time management tips you can implement for a better caregiving experience
Here are Some Time Management Strategies
1. Plan Ahead
Planning out your schedule in advance is the most critical element of good time management. Planning saves time and reduces stress in the long run. To get the best out of your planning, it is imperative that you have a good understanding of yourself and when you’re most productive.
This is one of the important time management strategies. Maybe you’re most alert in the morning, or perhaps you hit your peak at night. The wise thing to do here is to save your most important and challenging tasks when your productivity is at its highest—schedule simpler or smaller tasks for times when you’re less alert.
2. Prioritize Your To-Do List
As a caregiver, feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities at times is not unusual. This can make staying focused extremely difficult. It can also make it unclear what needs to be done.
By having a well-prioritized to-do list, you can stay organized and productive. Use your to-do list as a guide to complete your essential tasks first.
To get the best out of your to-do list, you can separate tasks into columns. The first column for most urgent tasks is the second column for less urgent tasks, and the third and final column for ancillary projects can wait. The tasks you don’t complete then get transferred to your to-do list for the following day. Keep your list simple and flexible but stick to completing your most urgent work first. Leave room for unexpected events.
3. Know Your Limitations
It’s essential to be aware of your expectations and what you can realistically achieve. Be clear from the start about the type of help you can and can’t provide. If you’re unable to help your elderly family member get out of bed in the morning, communicate this information to the family.
Don’t try to do too much as that can cause health problems later on. Similarly, be realistic about your time limitations. If you are unable to take on another project or doctor’s appointment, let that be known. Knowing your limitations and saying “no” at times when you are unable to help benefits both you and the one you’re caring for.
A cluttered space causes stress and makes it difficult to keep on top of things. It also takes a lot of time to find things when they aren’t put where they should. By creating an organized work environment, you get more done throughout the day while reducing stress caused by clutter.
You can start by cleaning your space to keep it neat and organized. Throw out or donate everything you no longer need and find a place for all the things you do need. Make sure to return everything to its place at the end of the day. This enables you to start each day mentally and physically fresh.
While decluttering your environment is important, decluttering your mind is equally important. Take a 10-minute walk, listen to music or practice deep breathing. Remember, it’s crucial to actively declutter your mind, preparing yourself to handle the stress of your job.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
Procrastination is the silent killer of ambition and assertiveness. Constantly putting things off to a later date or time makes things harder to finish. It also complicates your entire schedule. This can be especially dangerous when caring for an elderly who needs extra medical or physical attention. It is best not to procrastinate and just do it.
4 Time Management Tools for Caregiving
Apart from time management tips for caregivers– that can make your life so much easier – time management tools also represent an attractive solution. They help you use time much more efficiently throughout your day. Below are some Tools that caregivers can use to keep track of tasks.
1. Paper Journal, Notebook, and Tracker Logs
There is a reason why even with all the digital tools out there, pen and paper continue to be popular.
Not only are notebooks, paper journals, and tracker logs exceptional tools to write a list of daily or weekly healthcare to-dos, but they are also great organizers that provide an easy way to keep track of what needs to be done.
Download our free caregiver tools to help stay organized and make tracking important information easier. Some of our free downloads include a logs to track blood pressure, blood sugar, medications, a pain management tracker, a password tracker, caregiver checklist, a home safety checklist and more!
If you are not fond of pen and paper, you can simply turn to your phone instead. After all, today’s smartphones come with so many fascinating features. They are perfect for storing numbers, calendars, timers, clocks, recording notes, and you can use notepad apps to jot down information, among other things.
3. Apps and Other Digital Solutions
In this digital age, there are numerous apps out there that can be incredibly useful to caregivers. These apps may provide all the tools that you need at your fingertips without being overly complicated.
So, if you want an app that helps with a specific task or helps with organization, you can search the app store for your specific needs.
You may consider the following digital solutions:
- General Purpose Task Management Apps: These are apps that you can easily download on your smartphone or tablet. General task management apps can make it quick and easy to enter, view, organize, and even share tasks. A couple of great to-do apps that can help you stay on top of family and work are TickTick and Todoist.
- Caregiver-support app: Some apps have been specifically designed to support family caregivers. An example of this is CareZone. This app is focused on medication. It has features such as medication delivery and can track medication use and health information (like blood pressure).
- Digital journal or notebook: If you’re a caregiver who prefers to have a digital and physical printout of your daily task, you can use Microsoft Word or Excel programs to do so. One can also use a program such as Evernote for this purpose.
- Google Calendar: This app can be used on phones and computers and can sync across multiple devices. With this app, you can even create a calendar that other people can see. You can also grant them the opportunity to edit or restrict them from editing the document.
4. Where to Find Help
Caring for a loved one can be demanding. Sometimes you may need help, and there may be community resources available to you and your loved one.
For example, there may be meal delivery programs, visiting nurses, transportation, or respite care programs available in your community. These programs can be helpful to your loved one and alleviate some of your stress.
For an in-depth list of community resources, read our post Senior Resources- Guide for Caregivers.
Below are a couple of resources that may be able to help minimize some of your workload, and help your loved one:
- Each county has an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) that help coordinate services for seniors. The type of support provided varies depending on where you live. For example, services may include health insurance consultation, legal aid, meals on wheels, transportation, respite care, adult daycare information, and caregiver support services. Find your area local Area Agency on Aging here.
- The Eldercare Locator helps find community resources for elderly, including transportation, income tax assistance, nutrition, respite services, legal assistance and more. There is also a lot of information on their website. You can plug in your zip code to find local agencies that may be able to help you. Visit the Eldercare Locator or call 800-677-1116.
Providing care to a family member is an act of love, but it can still be a daunting and tiresome experience. Caregiving is a process, and to make the best of this process, you must effectively manage your time. The time management tips mentioned above will help improve your time management skills and can make a positive difference in executing your daily tasks.
If you’re a family caregiver, how do you effectively manage your time? Let us know in the comments below.