owl timerThere is a certain amount of stress in every caregiver’s life, whether it be from emotions that are tied to caregiving, medical issues, family disagreements, financial difficulties and/or complications from Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias.

One of the most common stresses is related to time management and overwhelm. There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. This is especially true for caregivers  who work (outside the home or in a home office) or who have other family members to care for (or both).  The more “to-do’s” that are stored in our overloaded brains, the more overwhelmed we can become and the more we are unable to focus and get anything done.

Recently I learned a technique from one of my mentors that has been helping me when I get too overwhelmed. I now incorporate this exercise at least weekly.

Try a brain dump.

Grab your timer, some paper and your favorite writing instrument. (Mine has always been the original BIC pen.) If you don’t have a timer, you can find a cute, inexpensive one at a store such as Michael’s;  you can buy a fancy one from Amazon; you can use this website timer ; you can Google “timer” and one will pop up, or you could use an app on your smart phone. I use my Owlet kitchen timer.

Set your timer for 10 minutes and write down everything that you need to do, whether it is business-related, family-related, health-related, etc.  Whatever pops into your head – write it down.  When the timer rings, stop!  This exercise helps to get your brain clear and may allow some creativity to flow in.


Now that you have completed your brain dump,  you’re going to incorporate a modified  version of a method that was introduced by Ivy Lee about a hundred years ago.  Ivy Lee was a PR consultant and met with Charles Shwab, who was CEO of Bethlehem Steel at the time.  Lee promised to increase the productivity of Bethlehem Steel’s executives by 20%. When asked his fee, Lee asked for whatever Schwab felt it was worth at the end of 30 days.  It turns out that productivity jumped and Lee was given $25,000.00 for his service, which would be somewhere between $500,000.00 and 2 million dollars in today’s money (depending upon what year this actually happened).

So……. Go back to your list and choose 6 (ONLY 6) items that you need to accomplish. List them in order of importance. Ivy Lee would have you go home from work and forget about it until the next day. But we’re going to begin immediately (that’s the only modification). Start with your first item – complete that item. When it’s done, move on to the second item. Then move on to the third task and so on.  Interruptions will happen. Just return to your list as soon as possible. At that end of the day, choose 6 items from your list to be accomplished on the following day.

Once you’ve accomplished your 6 items from the day and written down the 6 to do on the next day, I encourage you to stop thinking about them.  Writing down the next day’s 6 items each day will help you to gain some perspective about what you can accomplish in a given day. Choosing only 6 will help you to feel less overwhelmed. Letting go of the list until the next day will help you to get some balance and be able to relax and spend some quality time with your loved ones.

I hope you’ll try this method and let me know how it works for you.


Do you feel like you need to hit the REFRESH button on your life? Download our free guide and begin to create your best life yet!