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BellaOnline's Senior Living Editor

Time Management for Seniors

It has been said that volunteers are the backbone of our culture: people helping people. Somewhere along the line we received help from others, and conscience steers us to perpetuate the spirit of the help we were given by helping others. Some of the strongest, active volunteers are seniors. The key, though, is not to overload yourself and thereby create stress and imbalance. You’ve worked for decades and you may have raised a family, worked for your church, the Lions Club or any other service organization. You still have work to do but you can, perhaps should, proceed at a more relaxed pace. You don’t need that “overloaded” feeling.

Something simple you can do to become more organized is to make a decision about your mail when it is delivered so you only have to handle it once. Is it junk mail? If you have a wood burner, fireplace or fire pit, pitch the junk mail into a basket beside the burnables and use it when you need to generate heat for your home. Or pitch it in the trash. You might find an accordion aka pocket file ($3 at the dollar store) that can be labeled by month. As the bills come in, put them in the current month’s pocket. When you’re ready to write the checks to pay the bills everything is right at your fingertips. And at tax time, all of your documents are in one place saving you a tremendous amount of time that you can use in other ways.

How much can you accomplish in one day? As a writer I have a long list of projects in my mind. When I sit down to write without a list in front of me I accomplish less productivity. BUT, if I sit down at my computer and handwrite with pen and paper while the computer loads, I have a list ready when the computer is ready to work. There’s something about a list in black and white.

What do I include on my list? I have a home. There are household tasks I have to do. Some take only a few minutes—throwing a load of dirty laundry in the washer, shifting loads, and so on. Putting a roast in the slow cooker. Washing dishes. Mopping the kitchen floor. Dusting. Vacuuming. Then there are phone calls that need to be made. And don’t forget stopping for meals. It’s so easy to get busy and forget to eat breakfast or lunch.

Do I recommend making a list? Absolutely because as you tick off what you’ve done you get your second wind to keep going and accomplish more. It’s a great feeling at the end of the day to look at that list and have so many tasks completed. If any remain, they go on the next day’s list. Time management allows you to plan ahead.

For my creative mind clutter is a regular part of my life. I don’t have anyone following me through my days to pick up after me. I’ve ended up with some huge messes that look overwhelming and discouraging. Then I began to dive jobs into fourths. If it is a room to clean, I divide it into quarters. It’s much easier to clean one-quarter of a room. Sometimes it’s a matter of cleaning out one box at a time. If I clean out one box at a time, in X-number of days all of the boxes will be gone and the task will be completed because I broke it down into doable parts.

I am inclined to include things on my list that I enjoy doing…like writing this article, reading a novel, crocheting as I relax on my swing on the patio beneath the old oak tree in our backyard where there is almost a constant cool breeze on a hot summer day.

One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done is to learn to say, “No.” As a newspaper editor I didn’t want to offend anyone who could be a potential advertiser. But I became so scattered I had to get realistic. I had to learn to say no. “I’ll try to get there, but I can’t guarantee anything,” resulted in folks hearing what they wanted to hear, “I’ll get there.” So I pushed on. “I can’t. I’m sorry. No.” I would rather be honest and disappoint people, even anger them than to tell them yes and fail to show up and have them angry AND not trust me. They had no idea how busy I was. All they knew was I didn’t show up for their important event.

These are just a few ideas to help make life a little easier. And can’t we all use tips that make life easier?

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Content copyright © 2013 by Cathy Brownfield. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Cathy Brownfield. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debora Dyess for details.

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