This article was originally published on ProHealth.com.
One of the unfortunate realities of having chronic Lyme disease is that your days seem to be cut short. You still get 24 hours like everyone else, but a lot of those hours are spent on treatment-related activities, in bed, in doing things more slowly than you did before, or in doing fewer things. Not only that, but you might spend many more hours shish-kabobing in bed than the average person, so even if you only sleep 6 hours, you still find yourself beneath the covers a good 10-12 hours. Add to that the time that it takes to undergo rigorous treatment regimens and detox therapies, research and see doctors, do tests, and then somehow find time for family, friends and work—and those 24 hours get used up rather quickly. And if you work, you might find time management even more challenging.
While I am much more healed than I was 12 years ago when I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, I still have to take a lot of supplements and do detoxification and other therapies to stay functional, while also working to support myself—and I don’t get 16 productive hours in my day like a healthier person my age—which means that I have to heavily prioritize my time.
It doesn’t help that I need to bring in enough bacon so that I can also afford to pay for the expensive supplements that keep me functional. Yes, it’s challenging, but it is what it is. I’ve simply learned that every minute of my day counts and if I use my minutes wisely, I can manage, although I still don’t get as much recreational or downtime as I’d like. But in the meantime, I have learned a few strategies for coping and making the most of my days. Here are my time-management strategies. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful for you, too, especially if you are a single person with Lyme who works either part-time or full-time.
· Do your most difficult work at the beginning of the day, or whenever your brain is most active and alert. This could also be in the evening, when people with Lyme tend to feel at their best. Or, it might be at the very start of the day, before you have expended all of your energy on other activities.
· If you work, avoid Internet distractions such as Facebook and other social media. Or, schedule your social time during a work break and limit it to five minutes.
· Save non-essential email messages and phone calls for the end of the day, and only if you have time and energy to make those calls or return messages. Check email only twice a day, if you can help it. In order to get my work done, I have to basically ignore my phone (unless the call is work-related or an emergency) until 8 PM. I care about people; I deeply love my friends and family, but I just don’t have time to chat during the day. Or, I save my calls for when I’m out on a walk, or doing dishes.
· Don’t try to meet everyone else’s needs if you are feeling overextended. We all have responsibilities toward family members, partners or friends, but not everyone’s problem needs to be solved today. Personally, I don’t have many close friends because I simply can’t manage a lot of friendships and I prefer to invest deeply in two or three friendships rather than try to stretch myself thin by having a bunch of superficial relationships.
· Don’t cram all of your difficult tasks into a single day, or try to do too much in one day. If you do this, you will overdraw from your energy bank and find yourself with a deficit the next day.
· Balance computer or mental work with physical activity. I have found that I am less efficient when I try to push through and spend all day on the computer. Get up and take a walk, go to the grocery store, or do a relaxing therapy in between your mental tasks.
· Rest or take a short nap during the day, or at least take short breaks. (I am still working on this one!). By doing this, you will actually save time because you will re-charge your body and brain, and find that you actually get more done later in the day because you’ve had some downtime.
· Start the day in meditative prayer. Recount things that you are thankful for, and ask God to set your agenda for the day, and help you to have energy to do all that you need to do. I have found that doing this puts me into a positive mental space, and enables me to be more effective in my work. It also helps me ease into the day, instead of leaping full-throttle into my work, which my adrenals tend to detest!
· Have a green smoothie or some bone broth, for optimal energy and functioning. Eat regularly, as this will help you to keep your energy up, and ultimately save you time because you’ll have more energy to do what you need to do.
· Establish a routine and make “to-do” lists. Keep your work area clean and organized. I have found that organization and routine help me to be efficient because I don’t waste a lot of time scrambling around trying to find things or figure out what I need to do next.
· Allot yourself a specific amount of time to do your tasks. I have found that when I set goals and tell myself that I only have a certain amount of time to write an article or a chapter, for example, that I am actually able to finish in that amount of time. Of course, this can become a double-edged sword, as you don’t want to pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations. But when applied reasonably, this concept of goal setting actually works.
· Do something fun or relaxing daily, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Watch a favorite television program, talk to a friend at the end of the day, take a hot bath, or read a good book. This will help to motivate, rejuvenate, refresh and recharge you so that you can take on the next day. Ideally, all of us who battle Lyme disease would have at least a couple of hours every evening to relax with friends and/or family, but the reality is that I have found this kind of schedule to be unrealistic for those of us who have the demands of both work and treatments and a body and mind that only sometimes function. That said, we all need extended breaks—so if you can, try to take at least a couple of hours, a couple of nights per week, as well as one full day per week—to simply rest or get out of the house and do something fun (if you can, of course). Most of us are tired by the end of the week, but a night out at the movies or at a nice restaurant can do wonders to rejuvenate the spirit and soul, and with that, the body.