Time Management for Caregivers
It can happen overnight or could be years in the making, yet becoming a caregiver to a senior loved one will require a great degree of planning and time management in order to succeed. You may be holding down a full time job along with many other responsibilities, so ensuring your senior has the care and attention they need may take some restructuring as far as your daily schedules are concerned.
While we realize that every situation is different, there are some broad tips and techniques for time management that can really improve the effectiveness of your caregiving duties.
5 Tips for Time Management for Caregivers
1. Plan Personal Time
Although it might a little counter-intuitive, planning ahead for personal time is still a very important aspect of maintaining your work/life balance as a senior caregiver. Really, it comes down to getting the right amount of relaxation and time to retool your approach to providing the right amount of care. We can’t expect to do our best work when we’re distracted, tired, or neglecting our own needs, while at the same time overindulging in leisure can make your caregiving ineffective. To plan personal time, you may want to seek out what respite care options are available in your area, reach out to other family members for assistance, or even find a senior day care to free up some personal time.
2. Define your Role as a Caregiver
Whether you are part of a caregiving team or just working solo, it can help to clearly establish what you’ll be responsible for and to place specific boundaries on your duties. For instance, if someone is responsible for ensuring that prescriptions are filled or the laundry is done, you can focus on the remaining tasks knowing what your specific job is. Being clear in the extent to which you’ll be providing care means time management will be easier, ultimately helping to make your role more effective. This also helps to find out what other services might still be needed, and whether these will come from paid professionals or additional members of your caregiving team.
3. Prioritize your Tasks
Sometimes with an overwhelming amount of tasks at hand, it’s easy to get flustered and experience difficulty in even completing the basics. Before starting with your caregiving duties for the day, week, or however long you can plan ahead, make a list and prioritize the items that absolutely need attention, followed by more secondary tasks. Even if you feel as though your thoughts are organized enough to be an effective caregiver, making a list is one way to double-check that you haven’t overlooked anything. Additionally, it will ensure that any tasks that are contingent upon one another are accomplished, saving you time and stress in order to focus on your own needs and so on.
4. Pace Yourself
As highly organized as you may be, everyone has a maximum speed they can work in order to be effective. The idea of haste makes waste has never been truer when it comes to being a caregiver, especially considering that the experience is often very incremental and focused on a day to day regimen. Being mindful of the task at hand is one helpful way to avoid rushing through something and making critical errors. At the same time, it’s important to consider when you’ve done as much as you could before retiring for the day. Effective time management means caregiver burnout can hopefully be lessened and avoided altogether!
5. Anticipate the Unexpected
Despite planning for as much as foreseeably possible, it’s not unlikely for your schedule to be shaken every so often. You can include buffer time between activities or your daily tasks, although when it really comes down to the wire it’s about putting your loved one first. That’s not to say your own needs shouldn’t be incorporated, but becoming a caregiver is a great sacrifice and requires an amazing amount of dedication and patience. Allowing yourself the ability to remain flexible will really make a difference when it comes to helping things run smoothly.
Ultimately, the path of becoming a caregiver relies on good time management skills. Balancing your work, life as you know it, and the dynamic needs of a senior loved one can seem like you’re being stretched in many directions at once. Just remember there are only so many hours in a day, so don’t feel as though you need to complete more than what’s possible at any given point. While it’s not uncommon for caregivers to become so involved with their duties that they totally neglect their own needs or the needs of other people in their lives, it’s also important to realize that you are making a dire commitment to someone who relies on your focus and energy.
As a caregiver, you should never feel like you are without support. There are many resources available, as well as respite care options, or even senior day care programs that can make things not only easier on you and your loved one, but may allow your care to be more effective.