Straight from the mouths of some of the most time and money-crunched people on earth: family caregivers, here are seven “life hacks”—or every day shortcuts—to help you stay productive (and, more importantly, sane) while juggling your family, your job, and your social life.
Two active members of the AgingCare.com community: Jola and PCVS, share a few of their hard-earned strategies for making day-to-day life a bit easier and more organized:
Don’t hold the phone: Between scheduling appointments with multiple doctors, arguing with banks, and haggling with insurance companies, managing a family can mean spending hours a week on the phone. Jola urges people not to let that time go to waste. “Avoid holding the phone to your ear until someone gets back on the phone 15 minutes later,” she says. Invest in a wireless headset or use your device’s speakerphone feature to keep your hands free to work their multi-tasking magic.
Set aside space: Whether it’s a bowl, a drawer, or a series of wall hooks, designate a particular space for the things you use every day (keys, wallet, cell phone, prescription pill bottles, etc.). Also, if your schedule is tight and somewhat predictable (i.e. you have to take you daughter to soccer practice every Tuesday and Thursday, and grocery store trips occur on Sundays and Wednesdays) make room in your closet for shelves or baskets dedicated to specific days of the week. Every night, put the items you’ll need for tomorrow’s tasks in the basket, or on the shelf—this can help prevent a manic morning dash.
Troubleshoot in advance: When they’re working properly, the electronics in your life can be huge time-savers. However, they can be a nightmare to handle when they don’t work the way you want them too. If you encounter this situation and are able to fix the problem yourself, make sure to write down the solution or mark it in the owner’s manual. As Jola points out, “You’re likely to have the same problem again long after you’ve forgotten how you fixed it last time.”
Dealing with lost items: According to PCVS, it helps to set time limits on how long you’re willing to search for lost items. “I budget 15 minutes and then give up,” she says, “Whatever it is will turn up when I’m not looking for it.”
Stockpile cards for special occasions: Making a last-minute trip to the Hallmark store because you forgot to get your best friend a birthday card can be stressful. Creating a special card stash helped Jola bypass this frustrating situation. Gather a varied collection of birthday, holiday and get-well soon cards for future use. Money-saving hint: Buy holiday-themed cards in bulk when they go on sale after the celebration.
Call ahead: Does this situation sound familiar: you go to the store, mid-week, in search of the one essential item you left off your weekly grocery list—only to find the shelf empty? Calling ahead to make sure the store is stocked with your must-have item can save both time and angst.
Optimize online opportunities: Online shopping can save you loads of money and time. There are few things you can’t buy off the Internet. You can even order groceries online, and either schedule a time to pick them up, or have them delivered right to your door. If you must go to the store, write a list and organize it based on the physical layout of your destination (i.e. grocery store aisles, locations of different stores in the mall).
By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor