As my condition is fairly mild I am in the fortunate position of being able to get some things done. When I’m in crash and there’s no question of getting anything done I find it quite easy to do what I have to do to put my health first. However when I can be a little productive I really have to ward of the danger of my old bulldog patterns of getting my teeth into something and not wanting to let it go until its totally done with! One of my survival rules is ‘watch out for the completion compulsion!’ Things really don’t have to be completed in one sitting!
One of the ways I try to achieve this is by scheduling different activities in 45 minute blocks. I might do 45 minutes of course work, have a short break and then to 45 minutes of writing copy for my new website. It can be frustrating not to be able to ‘get on a role’ with something, but the dangers of doing so outweigh the advantages! I keep the calendar open on my computer to remind me whilst I’m doing computer work or I set my countdown timer on my phone for other tasks. This 45 minute system helps me pace and makes sure I take regular breaks. I’ve found that it’s more effective than spending longer on the same task as I get less effective the longer I spend doing one thing.
One really important thing about scheduling though is to be flexible. If you don’t feel like doing the task you’re scheduled to do at the moment, swap it for one that you do feel like doing or don’t do anything at all! I’ve already written about the importance of doing things in their own time. We need to listen to our body and make the task fit with the kind of energy we have in any moment. If that’s no energy then the task is quality rest! Everything can be rescheduled. I use google calendar for my scheduling and it’s great for dragging a task to a new time or new day.
When I started scheduling I never seemed to give myself enough time to finish anything, it all seemed to take longer than I expected. Now I’ve got the 45 minute blocks sorted I am being more effective but as a rule it’s always a good idea to schedule one more block of time than you think you’re going to need, or to have spare blocks for finishing things left over from other blocks.
It can be frustrating when things seem to take forever to complete, but I keep reminding myself that my health is the most important thing. Things do get done in their own time. I’ve already learned to avoid real deadlines and start things early to make sure I’m never stressed or pressured. For example if a small thing needs to be done by Friday I’ll schedule it for Monday so that I’ve got several days to play with if Monday doesn’t feel right. If a big thing has a time deadline I start months in advance so I can tackle it in little bites, but most of all I try to avoid big deadlines! Most of my deadlines are just when I’d like to get things done by. But the more I can let go of these self-imposed deadlines the better. I hope one day to be able to let go of them all together. One day I hope to approach all tasks with the freedom of not desiring to complete at any particular time, trusting that whenever it gets done will be good enough. Trusting that I need to look after myself before all else. I have already got there on my lower energy days, now I just have to reign in my excitement and approach my better days with the same trusting attitude.