Staying organized while living with chronic pain is challenging. I posted earlier about how I learned what was the best organizing method for me to use at home and work. This post is different because it is more challenging than the one I adapted. Despite living with chronic pain, there are different personality types. This is for organizing tip is those with the Type A personality who are used to keeping up with it all, but now find themselves worn out trying to maintain their “on” button. I learned through my journal “everything for a year”process how I function best in keeping up with my life. Type A Peers who are just beginning to live with our pain may prefer to create an organization binder.
I do keep a portable day book that includes several sections with me all day, but it is not for my Fibromyalgia pain or brain fog. I need this due to having post concussion syndrome for almost two years and without writing down everything, every time, I would be lost in what I needed to accomplish beyond my in-home activities of daily living (ADL’s). The binder discussed in this post will also have sections, but it is not meant to be one that you carry with you, instead it would remain at home or in your office to assist you each day in organizing your in-home activities as well as outside chores and appointments. The sections you add are entirely up to you.
You can find a used binder at a thrift store that you can has all the necessary items (that is where I found my daily date book, complete with all the items listed next), or just the binder and then you can add your own paper, section dividers and notes at the back, or purchase one new in numerous online sites or brick and mortar stores. I strongly suggest starting with a few sections that need your attention, in an organized and simplified manner. New sections can always be added later as needed. If you currently work only at home, start your binder for those needs. If you work and need to accomplish chores at work, start there. If you do both, start with the one place you feel you need the most help in organizing when you begin the process.
You can purchase the binder right away but, don’t start the process before doing the necessary tasks listed next. First, take a month and observe what ADL’s you are just not able to keep up with, but you need or want to. Second, put the list down and come back to it after a week or two. Reread it and make sure you still agree with what you have written down. If you are both working and doing home activities, you can keep a list at both places. After you agree with the most important items on the list, buy or start your organization binder, creating only a few sections to begin with. Keep it simple! I suggest no more than four, with note paper in the back to keep track of other items that may come up as you use the binder.
This organization process can be very difficult for Peers with Fibromyalgia, but if you really feel the need to keep up with life the way you did prior to living with the syndrome, give it a try. You can always drop items off the list if you find they really are not as important as you first thought, or, you discover you honestly can’t keep up with them all anymore. You may discover that this is not something you can keep up with after you set it up, but that is ok. Living with chronic pain is a learning process. We all live Well differently and we learn how to live our lives through experience.
Once you have the binder and sections labeled, start by putting the day of the week on the top of seperate pages. You can get pre-made spreadsheet pages to insert or numbered sheet pages. Choose the style that is most familiar to you. Before you start adding your list to your binder, ask yourself this, are you a morning, afternoon or evening person? Based on your answer, list the chores that are the most complex at that time of day. Pick only one major chore a day that requires the most energy and/or use of your body. Next, pick three or four ADL’s that take no more than an hour total to accomplish. In order to not experience increased pain flares, spread these out through the day. Take breaks after you complete one of the simpler 10-15 minute chores by relaxing or changing your focus to activities that use a different muscle group. If you can’t complete the one main ADL of that day, do a part of it and roll the rest to the next day. Don’t worry, every day won’t be the same. Some days we have less pain and more energy than others; you will get caught up.
If you discover that even with this organization binder, you still can’t keep up with it all but, even you really wish to live the same lifestyle as before, then you will have to look into dropping some items off your list, paying for help, asking your family to do more chores or lighten the load by de-cluttering your home or office or, just being less than perfect. You are not a failure if this happens. You are a human who lives Well with Fibromyalgia 🙂
Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Advisor