Managing the needs of an older adult or disabled loved one while taking care of yourself can leave you feeling frazzled. If the stressors in your life have been piling up and you’re not sure where to start, check out these four time management tips:
1. Take Control
Caregiving responsibilities can feel overwhelming. One of the most important tips for caregivers is to learn to take control of your situation. Here’s how:
- Use a schedule to plan your days ahead of time. Leave some wiggle room and make contingency plans. Prioritize while planning. List and schedule the more important things first.
- Strike a balance between work and caregiving. Talk with your employer about taking time off, using flex time, working from home, job sharing, and any other ways to keep your job. Ask about the Family and Medical Leave Act, and access the employee assistance program if your company has one.
- Don’t procrastinate. Set deadlines and goals to keep you moving in the right direction.
- Learn to say “no.” It’s understood by those who love you.
- Maintain organized records. Keep a copy of every important document in a safe, accessible place.
2. Stay Focused
Good time management is difficult to maintain when you try to accomplish too much at once. These ideas will help you keep your attention on everything that matters:
- Don’t overload yourself. Take one thing and one day at a time, and don’t start new tasks without finishing old ones.
- Remember that nobody is perfect. Don’t expect everything you do to be spotless or flawless — just do your best.
- Find shortcuts and quicker or easier ways of doing things.
- Organize your daily essentials. Keep your keys and glasses, wallet, or purse in the same place, so you don’t have to hunt for them each morning. This will free up some mental space for you to handle more difficult challenges. Remember that lists are a great way to keep things prioritized.
- Block out all distractions. Learn not to jump up and answer every call, respond to every email, or instantly reply to every Facebook message.
3. Be Good to Yourself
Care for the caregiver is an essential component of time management. There are a number of ways you can take care of yourself:
- Exercise. This always tops the list. Walk, run, or find other ways to stay active each day.
- Eat well. A balanced diet, moderation, and proper hydration are all important.
- Get plenty of sleep. Try to get at least seven hours every night.
- Work your own needs into any schedule. Keep up with favorite hobbies and other things you enjoy.
- Stay in touch with those you love. Don’t lose sight of your other personal relationships.
4. Seek Support
Caregiving can be a lonely task, but if you seek support from others, you’ll find it. Here are ways to ensure you are not in this alone:
- Trust your support system. Expect other people to do their jobs, and make your senior loved one as active a participant as possible.
- Delegate tasks. If you have family or friends who want to help but don’t know what to do, tell them.
- Create a care network. Identify family, community, government and other resources and take full advantage of them.
Juggling caregiver responsibilities with your personal needs doesn’t have to be a struggle. With a little reorganization you can tackle that to-do list, save money — and find time for yourself.