3 Ways Family Caregivers Can Maximize Their Energy
I read a very interesting guest blog post last week by Mike Davenport on the Men with Pens blog. It wasn’t written for the eldercare industry, but his ideas are excellent tools for family caregivers to put into their bag of tricks and use regularly.
Mike makes a distinction between time management vs. energy management. Most of us focus on time management in order to be most efficient each day. But he believes we should focus on personal energy management instead, and I agree completely.
Think Like a Power Company
Mike draws an analogy between everyday people and executives running a power company:
Imagine you’re a power company executive. Your top three concerns (if you want your company to succeed) producing, storing, and delivering. If you don’t manage those concerns properly, your customers demand energy…
… and you can’t provide.
… You need to make sure you produce, store and can deliver energy on demand.
As family caregivers, isn’t that always our goal? To have enough energy to fulfill our care recipients’ needs throughout the day, and often into the night.
Producing and storing personal energy is accomplished easily by most of us through eating well, sleeping well and getting enough sleep. It’s the third part of energy management that needs our attention, according to Mike.
Where we often fail is at the third concern, delivering energy when we need it. And this can have a big impact on the quality of our work. Thankfully, our bodies are great at delivering energy.
We just suck at scheduling those deliveries.
Three Ways to Maximize Your Personal Energy
Continuing with the analogy of being power company executives in charge of delivering energy:
- Schedule deliveries around peak times. Think about when you have the most energy during the day. In the morning upon awakening, late morning, afternoon or evening? Really sit down and think about how you feel at various times of the day. For example, I know I’m a morning person, but my husband is more efficient accomplishing things late at night when there are less distractions. Once you figure out your optimal times, schedule your most difficult caregiving duties at those higher energy periods.
- Use good fuel. As Mike puts it: “Loading up on caffeine and sugar when you need an energy boost does perhaps give you a quick jolt. But it’s lousy-quality energy and is usually short-lived, followed by a not-so-pleasant crash. . . . Eat good quality food for fuel. Especially because there’ll be a time when you need that fuel – and it usually comes when you least expect it.”
- Plan for unexpected demands. Like power companies, family caregivers need to plan ahead for times demands will be placed on your energy that you didn’t expect. For example, what if it’s the part of the day when your energy is lower, but your loved one needs some help? Mike says in this instance to give yourself a “special delivery” of energy:
Try a quick cat nap or a power snooze, say 10 to 20 minutes before you plan to start working. A little exercise, like a five-minute walk, might help boost your juice. Try two yoga moves to a good tune.
All these activities spark your power and produce a special delivery of energy for you to use.
But of course, special deliveries cost extra. You generally only have enough energy to get you through the day, so a special delivery of it means you’ll pay the price.
That price is usually a little bit less energy later on.
And an Additional Power Grid to Draw Upon
Let’s add an important piece to this analogy from an eldercare perspective. As family caregivers we also need to take into consideration the care recipient’s own power reserves in planning our days together.
For example, if you know your loved one is more tired in the afternoon after lunch, don’t schedule doctors’ appointments then if possible. Try your best to schedule challenging trips or caregiving duties during the times when your maximum energy and their’s coincide during the day. That may not always be possible to do, but if you can make it happen, do so.
Synergy is a great tool, and two people functioning with their peak energy times in sync are bound to create better results and more win-win accomplishments!
Have you used energy management as a caregiving tool before? Have you determined when your peak energy occurs during the day? When your care recipient’s energy peaks? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Photo Credit: pandrcutts’ photostream on flickr.com