Most caregivers are required to wear many hats. You may be a main caregiver, but you may also be a parent, a student or a working adult. Balancing many tasks may be tough, and you would also need to ensure that you are always at the pink of health. Without organising, tasks may pile up, documents may go missing, and things may get messy.
Here are some tips to help you get organised so that there is lesser stress.
Use a Calendar: You can use a colour coding system to help organise your calendar. Events for your care recipient can be coded as a colour and other personal events can be coded in another colour. You can use a physical calendar or an app on your handphone.
Labelling: Labelling can help you get organised as all your items can be easily identified. For example, use a pill organiser to help you with medicine, especially if your care recipient has to take medication often times throughout the day. It is also good to have important documents filed into one folder and clearly labelled so that it would be easy to retrieve, even more so when you are in a hurry in times of unforeseen situations or emergencies.
Time management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively. It is important to get more done with less stress, help you feel in control and meet your goals. How should you prioritise your time?
Schedule Self-Care First: Don’t let self-care fall to the bottom of your list of things to do. We don’t expect our cars to run on empty, and we can’t expect ourselves to either. You have to be healthy in order to play your roles effectively as no one can be productive when physically, mentally or emotionally depleted.
Plan Ahead: Planning saves time and reduces stress in the long run because it will help avoid last minute scrambles.
Define Roles and Responsibilities: When there is more than one person performing caregiving tasks, it is important for everyone to be clear on their responsibilities to ensure there are no mix-ups. When tasks fall through the cracks or there is an overlap, time is wasted because schedules have to be rearranged. This might cause unnecessary tension among family members which could have been avoided.
Make a List, Prioritise It and Stick to It: Caregiving may be overwhelming and it can be hard to stay focused. Sometimes it may be difficult to sort through tasks to find out what really needs to be prioritised. Having a to-do list will keep you organised as it will show all the tasks in one place. Once you have a list, focus on 3 things per day.
Don’t Procrastinate: Resist the urge to put things off as it will just make things harder.
Manage Expectations: It is important to understand what you can realistically achieve. As your responsibilities grow, you cannot expect yourself to get everything done “perfectly”. Sometimes it is important to let go and accept that “good enough” is enough.
One Thing at a Time: Stay focused on whatever you’re doing. Once you’re done, move on to the next thing. If you’re working, do your work. If you’re relaxing, focus on yourself. You’ll feel better and get more done.
Expect Detours: Know that things don’t always go according to plan and crises happen. Know that it is not your fault and that these things are inevitable. Take a deep breath and use your new time management skills to get back on track.
The ABCs of Caregiving: A Guide, The Bridging Point, Social Work Final Year Project by students from Nanyang Polytechnic