Caregiving and Time Management
As a family caregiver, you are probably familiar with the feeling that you don’t have time for anything but worry about your loved one. It may not just be caregiving that is consuming your energy, but a family, kids, a career, and the list goes on. Thinking about your health might even cause you to feel guilty.
Unfortunately, the pressures of caregiving can be very severe and debilitating experience for many family caregivers. Then again, the pressure that you feel is understandable since you have many priorities vying for your time all at once. How can you manage it all?
1) Take care of yourself. This is not a selfish act, but a crucial one. Taking care of yourself entails a variety of things. It can include exercising, meditation, socializing, spending alone time, reading for pleasure, eating healthy, going to the doctor, spending time with your spouse, sleep, etc. These activities are all conducive to mental and physical wellbeing. They can energize you and help you stay balanced. Reaching this stability is not only important for your preservation but the continued care of your loved one, as well. So, these “selfish” acts are not so selfish after all.
2) Plan and prioritize your time. Buy an agenda. Use a calendar. Use your cell phone. It does not matter how you organize your time. Just do it. Planning your tasks throughout the day helps you visualize the goals that you need to meet, and it allows you to manage how fast, when, and by what means you accomplish these tasks. As tedious as keeping an agenda is, it outweighs the costs of scrambling around and wasting valuable time that could be used productively. Lastly, make sure you schedule unproductive time, as well. This means schedule time for you take a break. You do not need to be in “go mode” 24/7.
3) Forget about perfection. Being a family caregiver requires a lot. And to accomplish a lot, you have to realize that not everything will go perfectly. Also, you may not be able to accomplish everything you would like to accomplish. You must accept this as normal. The first step to forgetting perfection is to set realistic expectations and be realistic about how much time you have.
4) Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your thoughts and energy on what you are presently doing, whether it’s breathing, talking to a friend, walking outside, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, or eating. The point is to focus your energy on the task at hand and not on the numerous other things that can distract you. When you are spending time with your loved one, focus on only them and the tasks that you are performing. Don’t worry about the three or four other things you have to do afterward because you will get to them soon enough. Mindfulness helps you stay grounded in the activity you are currently doing.
5) Use technology. If you are capable of using and affording tech devices, rely on devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers that can help you organize your appointments, send messages to people, and store information. Organizing all of your chores in an orderly way and receiving automated messages as reminders can be a life saver. Also, technology can help you stay entertained since smartphones can store music, movies, and games. This sounds trivial but can prove useful when in boring situations (e.g. waiting at the doctor’s office).
6) Enlist help. Depending on your personality, you may be the kind of person who wants to handle everything themselves. Don’t do this. You will burnout. Try to enlist the help of surrounding family members or even friends. If you are fortunate enough receive this extra help, then you will immediately notice some of the burdens being lifted off of your shoulders.
7) Acknowledge your limitations. In other words, feel comfortable with the word “No.” It is okay not to take on an additional task for fear that you cannot handle it or will burn out. Acknowledging your limits will ultimately be beneficial for your wellbeing and that of your loved one.