Time is precious when you are caring for a loved one. There is so much to do for them, and you only have 24 hours a day.

Being a caregiver requires endless amounts of empathy, patience, and energy. Thus, if you are caring for a family member or a loved one, it is crucial to be mindful of the challenges caregivers face so that you can address them.

As a caregiver, you probably do not have much time to spare, and even when you get a moment, you are likely to feel mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. By effectively managing your time, you will be able to handle the stress of caregiving while still leading an entire life. If you feel like there is not enough time in the day, use these five tips to give yourself some breathing room and know how to navigate the caregiver challenges.

5 Expert Time Management Tips For Caregivers

  1. Plan Ahead. Planning saves time and minimizes stress in the long run. Like a few minutes spent reviewing upcoming doctor appointments, make sure you or someone else is confirmed to accompany your loved one. This means avoiding last-minute scrambles and having a chance to schedule errands, work, or “me” time. Or regularly check essential supplies and medications, so you have an opportunity to get more to avoid running out. 
  2. Prioritize Your To-Do List – repeatedly. A to-do list can keep you productive and organized. However, a long list can quickly overwhelm you, especially in a fluid caregiver situation. Experts suggest aiming at three top priorities per day. When you need a boost of encouragement, concentrate on getting a few small things done to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment. Keep your list simple and flexible. The tasks you do not complete then get transferred to your to-do list for the following day.  

3. Manage Expectations and Do the Touch-It Once. Sometimes, “good enough” really is good enough. It is essential to manage your expectations of what you can realistically achieve. As your caregiving responsibilities grow, you cannot expect to get everything done and do it “smoothly.” That may mean scaling back on simplifying meals, how often the carpet gets vacuumed or letting the yard experts have made a habit of taking care of small tasks immediately instead of adding them to their To Do list. This is the convenience of Touch-It Once. It is faster and keeps the list from getting out of hand.

4. Declutter and Get Organized. You get more done throughout the day by creating an organized work environment. Not to mention reducing stress caused by clutter. Start by throwing out clutter, cleaning, and finding a place for everything. Then take 15 to 20 minutes at the end of each day to return everything to its location. This lets you start each day fresh. An alternative is to work steadily to clear up the house, section by section, and use the “touch it once” rule to keep from adding to the overall clutter while eliminating it.

5. Know Your Limitations and Expect Detours. Be clear about the type of help you can and cannot provide. Be realistic about your time limitations and convey them to your loved one. Speak up if you cannot take on another project or doctor’s appointment. Also, plans have a way of going awry, and crises will happen. If you accept this is inevitable, you will know that it is not your fault when these detours come up – you did not fail.

In Closing

When you are spending your time caring for someone else, it is easy to allow your dreams to get lost in the shuffle. If you are feeling a little off-track, take the time to set a few professional and personal goals. You can write them down and come up with a plan for how to attain them. When you prioritize your own goals and dreams, this can ultimately help you provide better care.

Are you a caregiver? What time-management tips worked and did not work for you? 

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