Time is elusive. Where does the time go? Whether the problem is finding time, spending time, or managing time, it comes down to Taking Charge of Your Time. In our post entitled Coping with 5 Common Caregiver Frustrations finding time is one of those top 5.
Taking Charge of Your Time
Using time is a lot about priorities. Where is it you NEED to spend your time? Of course that question needs to be answered every day and sometimes the answer changes every few minutes as the day plays out.
Priorities cannot mean a rigid schedule for a caregiver. In order to keep things flowing, a person has to be flexible. As Cameron is fond of saying (and we all agree with him), “We are so flexible we are fluid.” Another wise man said “8 hours of work, 8 hours of play, 8 hours of rest.” Honestly, how does one make all that wisdom fit into one day?
Six Guidelines to Help You Take Charge of Your Time
- Budget your time like you do your money. Keep a log to determine where your time is going.
- What is your “primetime“?
- Divide large tasks or goals into small steps and work one step at a time.
- Give yourself rewards. Will work for m&m’s.
- Do two things at once.
- Stop chasing your tail! Prioritize and group errands and chores.
Keep a Time Log
One of the homesteaders in our area was named Lady Evelyn Cameron. Her life is pretty fascinating to those of us who understand her love for this lonely prairie that we live in. Her hobby (over 100 years ago) was photography and that is what she is most known for. She was also a VERY organized homemaker who journaled everyday, mundane activities like what they ate for meals and how many eggs she got each day. Now, those mundane daily journals give us a window into how her time was spent.
What if we did the same thing? What would we find about how we spend our time? Some things would not be a surprise at all “I KNEW I spent 70% of my time feeding people and doing their laundry!”
As we work through the rest of the 5 guidelines however, knowing where we spend our time can help us to know where we can gain time when we need it the most. No fair judging yourself, however! Taking charge of your time means that you are spending it where it does the most good for that day.
When is Your Primetime?
There is a business rule of thumb that is called the 80/20 rule. Basically, it says that 80% of success comes from 20% of…activities, clients, or employees. If we apply that rule to time, we are theorizing that 80% of what gets done in a day gets done in a 20% chunk of time.
That 20% chunk of time is your primetime. It is the time when you accomplish the most during the course of your entire day. That primetime is not the same for everyone nor does it remain the same time of day throughout life. Finding your primetime is your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Keeping a time log will help figure that out.
Divide Large Tasks or Goals into Small Steps
What if we divided our large projects into smaller tasks or “chapters”? It might mean that at least we accomplished something toward that goal even if we had to redo part of what we did earlier in order to move forward to the next step.
If things are going well, we might even get more done that we planned toward those goals. If things aren’t going well at all this week, well then, we started and as Mary Poppins says (although she was not the first) “well begun is half done“.
Give Yourself Rewards
If you are not earning your own rewards then what is the point? Remember the quote in the beginning: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play, 8 hours of rest? A lot of the wisdom in that quote comes from your own definition of work, play, and rest. When you decide on that definition, you can make up your own reward system.
You need small rewards to get you through the day and large rewards that don’t happen as often. Large rewards might be lunch with a friend, a date with your honey, or a vacation.
Small rewards that get me through the day might include: 10 minutes on the next chapter of that book, 30 minutes garden time, or 10 m&m’s just for being a good citizen.
Do Two Things at Once
I know experts say this is impossible and causes a lot of stress but honestly, we do it all the time because of technology. The washing machine or the dishwasher runs while we are running errands. We put away dishes or fold laundry (ours or someone else’s) while dinner cooks. A little bit of prior planning saves time in the long run.
Just a little advice: choose VERY carefully what two things to do at once. Two things that need constant attention need to be done separately like frying eggs and filling the teapot. That was not my best idea.
For me, everyday starts with a list. Sometimes, the same items have been on the list for weeks before they move up in priority. Part of my early morning routine is deciding where I need to focus today. Those priorities might need to change throughout the day so that’s why some things are on my list for weeks.
I put a 1 next to everything that MUST happen today so when the chaos begins, I can keep priorities as priorities. Then I just let the time go as it will and try not to stress about it.
Taking Charge of Your Time
The reason Cameron says we are so flexible we are fluid, is because we never know who is going to change our priorities. That is part of being a caregiver. If we care more getting the list done than we do about the folks (human or animal) that we care for then we cease being caregivers and none of these concerns or rewards matter anymore.
Part of the problem with time as a caregiver is that we don’t really have control over where all our time goes. Even our best-laid plans many times go astray because we are needed somewhere else. Taking charge of your time means that you DO lay out a plan in small, easy steps and put it somewhere in your list of priorities.