It was a coincidence when I decided to find a way to use a time management app to organize my day to help me pace that a blogger friend of mine wrote on a similar topic. So I will share her post for you guys to check out as well. Using time blocking techniques for chronic fatigue
I’m a disorganized person by nature. And an absentminded person by nature. I’m that person you may know that has the desk that looks a lot like a paper bomb exploded on it but they say ‘Yeah, but I know where everything is. I have a system.’ That person is lying. There is no system. There are specific stacks of stuff in priorities though. So there is that.
You add in my absentminded nature and I am also that person that always forgot people’s names. What day it was. When I had appointments. Because 99.9% of the time I am in my head thinking about some random brain fluff that has absolutely nothing to do with my surroundings- that I am definitely not paying attention to.
Then you stir in Fibromyalgia
So when you take these two features of my actual personality and you add in fibromyalgia with pain, fatigue, and fibro fog, well, it gets a bit chaotic. I know I have a need to be organized because of the memory issues, concentration issues, and literally forgetting insanely important things. But I’m not organized by nature so it’s tricky. A tricky pickle. I make lists. Sometimes several. On my phone. On pieces of paper. I forget where I put them. I forget to look at them.
I have a doctor’s appointment this week. No idea when it is. No clue. I usually write these on the calendar so it is In My Face every time I go into the kitchen. I forgot. Apparently, I deleted the email though… so that’s awesome.
I know all the fibromyalgia brain fog tricks to help get around some of the more foggy issues. (I learned them during university and then at work)
- Eat regular snacks
- Do Not Multi-task
- Stick to a routine for regular things- so we are not flustered or in a rush. And here is where we want to use lists/reminders and whatnots
- When your brain seems to shut down at work, just switch tasks as sometimes that alone will reboot the old thinking noodle.
- Always PACE
- And of course manage sleep, as much as possible.
- And manage stress, as much as possible.
What I need to focus on lately is my method of organizing to stick to some sort of routine in the day so that I can pace my day
The thing is since my vestibular issues started my functionality tanked. At this point, I don’t even want to debate what the cause is for those issues only getting functionality back. I managed to get some mobility function back (balance and so forth) with vestibular rehabilitation but not much else. During my 4 years on disability I learned, I had to really, really pace my day with a whole lot of rest to get anything done. And as I get some little bits of ability to do things back I want to utilize that time but, again, I absolutely have to pace… or it is wasted by an influx of vestibular symptoms. Just like I ruin my day by overdoing it and causing a fibro flare of pain/fatigue.
Making a list doesn’t really help me as much when it comes to this. I can make a list for ‘what I want to accomplish‘ but due to the massive amounts of fatigue I feel in the day, I feel extremely demotivated to get anything done. Assuming I remember where I put that list. Or even look at it. Also, I feel like I need to ‘cross off’ a thing on that list but I may not be able to… I may only be able to work a short time on it. It just depends on symptoms.
My idea was to maximize my Usable Hours in my day. And, hopefully, increase them slowly. Since fatigue, mental and physical, has been such an issue I hope that by pacing bits of activity all day my system will adapt to more regular activity. It might not. But, at the very least, I will be getting more done by organizing my activities and rest times.
That is my goal. But obviously, my main goal is Things I Need to Do in the day and week, appointments I have to go to, Physio exercises I have to do and making sure I have rest between all of those things. Yeah, I want to nudge my functionality up over time but that will be a slow process.
What I needed was a good organizational app for my day.
But it had to be really user-friendly. With a nice reminder system. That could have tasks partially done if that is what happened and still log my ‘time’ so I get a realistic view of how much time I am able to function that day (and on average in the week as I make changes to try and increase my usable hours).
I have tried planner apps before and because I’m just not an organized person they just don’t appeal to my brain. So inevitably I stopped looking at them or using them. I do use my physical calendar and my Google calendar but I need something a little more detailed than that. Those are both designed to just help me Not forget an appointment, which usually works, and sometimes fails (works best when I add a reminder to my phone- and I do forget to do that most of the time).
My planner app
So I mucked about until I found a flexible app that works perfectly for all the tasks I could do in a day, log how much time I actually spend on them vs. how much time I Scheduled for them (Giving me a realistic picture of my functional time in the day). The ability to space it all out so I pace myself in my day and week- never doing too much and overburdening myself. It has a reminder system you can adjust based on the sort of reminder you need.
Time Planner App
- Tracks time we spend on activities
- Gives statistics on time we spend per day/week on activities
- Create routines with ‘time values’ for daily activities. This can be for your housekeeping tasks or cooking or errands… all of which require a lot of energy for us. You can set reminders for these as well. And track the time you spend on them if you desire.
- You can have more scheduled things with specific time-lines- and break these down into tasks.
- Create as many categories and sub-categories for things you do as you want to track in your day.
In this way, I can see how many usable hours I generally have. So I can actually manage future time better, on average. I mean, bad days are bad days. But if I know on average the sort of tasks I can do in one day, the ones I need to do 1 time a week… that sort of thing, I can organize my week around all my necessary appointments.
It has a calendar view (for scheduled events/tasks as well as your activities). A day view with both your scheduled appointments/tasks assigned and your activities. A bubble view where you can see your tasks for the day, click on them to start your time or log them as complete (I love the bubble view).
You can be as organized as you want to be with this app. Like get right detailed. Or as simple as you want to be. It is simple to change the time of something. So if I have energy in the morning or wake up early, so I decide I better write a blog post then instead of later when I may not have energy, I can just move that assigned blog earlier. And start my time log. When you tap the bubble on the screen that shows all the assigned things for your day, it starts the timer, but you can tap it again to pause it- so I get a really accurate timeline of how long it takes to write a post that day, or create images for it or do social media for it- whatever tasks I have assigned.
I found a tutorial for this app on YouTube
Why I started doing this
Why I wanted to know how much time I actually spend on things is because for my vestibular therapy the vestibular therapist wanted me to do tasks I would normally do, but slowed down on due to dizziness. And then increase them to help my brain adjust to these. Obviously, I ‘time’ my physiotherapy exercises but am not really used to timing how much time I spend blogging or drawing or doing housework or creative writing. I definitely wanted to increase my functionality though… a big thing on my list actually. So I need to be accurate at how much I can do in a day. Or a week. And see if I am improving at all.
With SAD (Season Affective Disorder) I do start to get very sluggish and lethargic so I find it very hard to ignore some of these more problematic symptoms to get things done. So some organizational system helps keep me to some routine. That does help with my mental health.
But I also have to pace a whole lot. Without that, I am very aware my vestibular symptoms go nuts. And with fibromyalgia, I know these exercises plus all the stuff she wanted to add in (walks, a certain amount of housework) was causing flare-ups.
So I needed a way to pace and manage these. Or to show, hey, I can literally only do this much, with this much pacing- that is just the way it is. Because when you pace, you can do more in the week all spread out. If you don’t pace and do a whole lot smooshed in one day- well then, you’re not doing anything else for days.
What I do also matters. Physical things in short durations, then rest, and then mental things, rest… can work a whole lot better than a bunch of physical or a bunch of mental.