5 Top Time Management Tips for Caregivers

This year’s theme for National Carer’s Week is ‘Putting Carers on the Map’. In light of this, we’re recognising the need for additional support for caregivers, as a result of increasing pressures. With as many as 7.7 million people in the UK juggling unpaid caring responsibilities with paid employment*, it’s evident that many caregivers are left with little to no time to focus on their own wellbeing outside of these duties.

Effective time management alone won’t resolve the challenge of balancing professional and personal life. Rather, caregivers require financial support, more recognition, and tools for their wellbeing. But, developing the skill of successfully managing your time, can be used to help decrease stress and boost confidence for caregiving and beyond. Here are five top tips to help you stay on track.

  1. Assess Your Daily Routine

Conducting a time audit can be more of an effective tactic for caregivers than setting strict time constraints for each task. While no day will necessarily be the same, you might find it helpful to log your activities over a few weeks to identify any patterns. This is because there can often be inconsistencies between how long you believe a task will take versus how long it actually takes.

Caring for a loved one isn’t always predictable, but you may notice it usually takes 30 minutes to check your work emails or 20 minutes to cook dinner, for example. Recognising patterns like these can make it easier to know how much time you’ll need to set aside and prioritise what needs doing to avoid overwhelm.

  1. Learn to Say No

By practising the power of saying “no”, you can say “yes” to better managing your own needs. But, when you’re a caring individual, saying “no” to others isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve built a reputation for always being happy to help.

A great place to start could be to assess any additional duties you’re taking on at work. Only you know what your individual priorities are, but an example you might want to think about is a meeting a colleague has put in your diary. Perhaps it runs into your break or finishes quite late in the evening, eating into the time you would have spent caring for your loved one or the only few minutes you have to yourself. Instead of saying “no” without an alternative, you might want to suggest another time or explain to your colleague that you do not have the capacity to regularly work during these hours.

  1. Rethink Your To-Do List

If you’re not in the habit of creating to-do lists already, you might want to consider starting as part of your time-management toolkit. Or maybe you are but it’s just not quite working for you. The great thing about lists is that they’re so versatile! Perhaps you’re forgetting to look at your paper to-do list throughout the day, or even end up losing it. You could find it more helpful to use software such as a note-taking app or project management tool such as Asana, so you can automate recurring activities and be notified of what’s to do next. 

  1. Create SMART Goals

As well as being a time management tool, setting and achieving goals can help create a sense of achievement and provide clearer direction. Your goals are unique to you and can be in relation to what you’d like, whether that’s caregiving, your job, or anything else in your personal life. By creating goals, you’re able to focus on what you’re working towards and can help minimise time spent on tasks that are less important to you or can be delegated. 

Before you get goal setting, it can be a good idea to apply the SMART method – that’s assessing whether these objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. In doing so, you’ll likely be able to better review your progress and be encouraged to remain more accountable.

  1. Reach Out for Help

Carers UK has reported that 84% of carers whose mental health is bad or very bad have continuous low mood, 82% have feelings of hopelessness and 71% regularly feel tearful.** These worrying statistics further highlight the need to put carers on the map by not only acknowledging the work they do but also the requirement for additional support.

We redirect you to the Carers UK site, where you can find resources to not only offer practical support such as guides as to how technology can support your caregiving, but also a directory for local carer organisations that can offer assistance.

*Juggling work and unpaid care | Carers UK

**State of Caring survey | Carers UK