Time Saving Techniques for Caregivers
Those of us who function as caregivers are looking for solutions that open up more time in the day.
The responsibilities you once had can seem so minimal after becoming a caregiver. Many caregivers think, “How could I have thought I was busy before?” Fatigue takes on a whole new meaning for caregivers. Your workload has doubled, or even tripled, in some cases when you provide care round-the-clock.
First of all I am going to remind you of a fundamental truth: you cannot squeeze more than twenty-four hours into one day. We all already know this, and yet we still try to fit more and more into our daily routines. And we wonder why we are stressed out? Don’t get me wrong, there will be rough days and long hours, but you need to find simpler ways to do things and possibly some shortcuts to make your new reality work for you.
Begin with this simple exercise: make a quick list of tasks you perform in a week. No particular order is required. Just jot them down as you do them. It will be quite the list by the end of the week, but that is okay since it is essential for problem solving. Next to those tasks write the time it takes to complete the task. No guessing on this one. Actually write down the time on the clock when you started the task and the time on the clock when you finished it. (The reason for such accuracy in the time log is because most humans tend to distort time when they are worn-out or upset.)
Take inventory at the end of the week. In order to rest more, you need to spend less time doing whatever it is you are doing now through task elimination or improved efficiency. So let’s take a look at that list.
- Sleep should be on the list for 7-8 hours each day. Leave it there, removal or reduction is not a healthy option, and we are missing the point if this is the first place we cut hours from our “time budget.”
- Three meals per day are also essential for physical and social well-being.
- Work is, more likely than not, going to have to stay.
Everything else on your list is negotiable. This is where you start to explore eliminating, changing or improving your options.
I have a list of things for you to consider. This is not a lengthy list, but it should get you thinking and looking at other ways of doing things to make life easier for yourself.
- Can you share meal preparation with a spouse?
- Can more of your meals be doubled, tripled, etc. so there is enough to freeze or store for another night?
- What healthy options can be selected from the deli?
- Can you carpool to work so that you can pay bills or complete other tasks while someone else is driving?
- Can you setup a carpooling group for children going to and from school?
- Can you organize your kitchen to speed-up prep time while cooking?
- i.e., alphabetize the spices, load the dishwasher with similar items together, making everyone responsible for updating the grocery list with items that are running low, storing containers with lids on the containers. (You can also search online for numerous ways to speed food prep and clean up)
Some More Suggestions:
- Secure the commitment of family members for certain tasks, and do not take those tasks back even when they do them a little bit differently than you would.
- Store sheets and pillow cases as a unit to shorten the bed linen changing time.
- Consider a robot vacuum cleaner.
- Hire a housekeeper once per month or more often.
- Bring in a caregiver once or twice per week to help with your loved one.
- My favorite: Plan the next day the night before, e.g., what you will wear, what task you will tackle first thing, what you want to accomplish tomorrow. Your brain will help you organize during sleep, and make the next day so much more productive. - Trust me on this one.
This is a short list of time-saving ideas to consider, and there are so many more. I know you are thinking, “I don’t have time to do these extra things,” but the reality is that forcing yourself to use time-saving techniques will set you up better for the future. You need to push harder in the beginning so that you reap the benefits of the extra time down the road. Otherwise you will essentially be stuck on the same hamster wheel running, running, running until you collapse.
If you have added caregiving to your responsibilities, other tasks and obligations will have to give a bit. Time is what you are going to need, and finding ways to be more efficient, securing additional assistance, or eliminating some responsibilities is needed to maintain your health. We can only sustain an excessive workload for periods of short duration, and then our bodies and minds begin to shut down.
You cannot take care of others effectively when you do not take care of yourself.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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