Work Smart, Not Hard

Many caregivers never had the opportunity to learn essential time-management skills that result in working smart, not hard. You may find the following helpful:

Create specific goals for personal and professional development. Parse your annual goals into monthly goals. Break up your weekly goals into daily goals. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish this year, this month, this week, this day?” Planning each day can give you a road map to getting to your destination!

Do one thing at a time. Caregivers are notorious for trying to do and be all things to all people and all projects all the time. Quality always suffer when you try to do too many things at once.

End the day by planning for tomorrow’s projects whenever possible. That way, you’ll not only waste less time getting started the following morning, you’ll arrive at work feeling more in control of the day ahead.

Protect yourself from constant interruptions. When you’re working on a task, nothing will sabotage you more than interruptions. Block out the necessary time to complete tasks.

Work when you work best. We all have certain natural peak hours of performance. Pay attention to your inner clock. Are you a morning person or a night person? Does a brief nap recharge you?

Focus and reject. This is a reminder to stay focused on the task at hand. Learn to “switch off” those things that prevent you from accomplishing desired tasks. Sometimes this means delaying or returning calls and correspondence. If you always “stay available” you won’t have time to accomplish what you may really want and need to.

When all else fails, retreat to a hideout. When working on project development, you may need to find a “Skinner Box”: a place where you can hole up with no interruptions. Tell only those who truly need to know where you are. You’ll be amazed at what you get done.

When you know your energy level is dropping, take a break. After a 10-minute walk or a short nap, you may be able to accomplish much more than you could have otherwise.

Delegate tasks whenever possible. Watch out for “busy work” that might be done more efficiently by someone else.

Throughout the day ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” Focus on those tasks that need to be done first.

Wolfelt, Alan. 2007. The Bereavement Caregiver’s Self Care Guidelines. Center for Loss and LIfe Transitions. Retrieved September 26, 2010 from


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