Time management means more than just organizing your time and duties – it also means staying in control of your life. And for caregivers, it means managing tasks and making room to love your life.
A caregiver’s job can honestly be a rewarding experience, but not without some challenges. There’s the physical and emotional stress that comes with the job, the draining lack of sleep, financial constraints, and then there’s the challenge of managing their time between work and their personal life. Eleanor Gaccetta’s book “One Caregiver’s Journey” is a touching memoir that talks about the author’s experience caring for her mother for almost ten years until her mother’s death at the age of 102. The book highlighted the many changes and challenges caregivers face, including how to navigate the caregivers’ challenges.
Out of the many challenges, one stood out conspicuously from the rest – time management.
What does a day in the life of a caregiver look like?
Almost all tasks are listed as the #1 priority on a caregiver’s list of things to do. Everything seems to precede anything else, and it can get overwhelming. And there are times when work responsibilities would overlap with personal obligations. It then becomes a question of when work ends and personal life begins. Caring for a loved one must be the priority.
There is no such thing as an ordinary day for a caregiver. Generally, on most days, a, a caregiver’s routine starts with helping their patients get out of bed and perform their usual early morning habits such as bathing, dressing, grooming, personal hygiene needs, breakfast and medications. Then the remainder of the day is filled with meal preparation, household and laundry duties, medical appointments, social engagements, running errands, and winding down for the evening by getting them ready for bedtime.
There are days when it’s not as ordinary and nothing is smooth flowing. Everything becomes hectic with all the hustle and bustle going on, especially when things are not going according to plan because of delays, unexpected incidents, or emergencies.
With only 24 hours a day, how can a caregiver fit all of their to-do’s in a single day? More importantly, how can caregivers even find the time to look after themselves?
Getting Back on Track
Despite a well-prepared to-do list, there will always be unexpected circumstances that can throw anyone off track and off schedule. Once you’re off the track, you lose balance and control over your time. Even if you meticulously follow the schedule and your list to the letter, the number of things you have to do and all the demands that come with being a caregiver can leave you feeling exhausted and drained at the end of the day. So much so that you won’t have the energy to do the things that make you feel better.
Here are some caregivers’ time management tips that you can do to give you some breathing room for your own needs and personal life.
Review Your To-Do List
The purpose of having a to-do list is to keep your tasks organized. When caregivers list their things to do, it can be a head-spinning experience just seeing and reading off the number of tasks that seem to go on forever. A to-do list should be realistic. The tasks listed should be at the very least manageable, feasible, or doable.
Remember that being a caregiver means that you have to think about your patient, but also to think about yourself as well! Run through your to-do list again. Allot a specific time for your duties, but then be strict with following a schedule allotted for your “me” time. Recheck your list and see if there are tasks that can be rescheduled on a different date. Doing this can also help you avoid the so-called caregivers’ burnout. Aim for a doable list, and aim to make time for yourself.
Mindfulness means being focused and aware of what you’re doing, feeling, and everything happening around you. It’s that state of being focused on the present moment, acknowledging all of your thoughts and feelings. Being mindful also means knowing your strengths and weaknesses regarding your responsibilities as a caregiver.
By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can prioritize tasks that you are good at and delegate or else ask for assistance for those that are your weaknesses or need help. Mindfulness also refers to paying attention if your body is getting tired or stressed out. This will allow you to step away for a moment, pause, and make an effort to balance and take time to relax, recuperate, and regain your energy before diving back into your caregiver role.
“Touch It Once”
Another productivity and time management hack is called the “touch it once” rule. When you touch something or begin a task, you immediately act and fulfill it. This way, you avoid redoing the job so that you can move on to your next action item. For caregivers, once they receive the prescription for medicine and supplies needed, they go right ahead and buy them instead of putting them away and filing them as a to-do later item. It helps prevent procrastination and also helps declutter the list of to-dos.
Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey is a blueprint of a literary masterpiece on a caregiver’s reality. Caregivers must apply time management. Practicing time management requires discipline and determination, all of which can ultimately turn into a good and winning habit. Follow these tips, love your caregivers job, but don’t lose yourself. Get your life back, and get right back on track! Check out Gaccetta’s webpage at www.onecaregiversjourney.com.