You may not always realize it, but you have the power to manage your time. A lot of this power comes from the decisions you make every day.
- Set time goals. For example, tell yourself, “Today, I’m going to do three treatments and one hour of exercise, plus spend four hours on this project.” You then have to schedule your eating, phone calls and emails around those three priorities.
- Try a time journal. Write down everything you do for several days, on a minute-by-minute basis. Look at where you are wasting time. What can you change? Where do you see a window of opportunity? For example, can you squeeze in 30 pushups and jumping jacks before getting in the shower? Can you start laundry before you start a treatment?
- To plan ahead, map out your whole day or week with tasks and priorities. Plan from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. What matters most to you? How can your time reflect your priorities? Set your priorities by reciting a mantra, like, “Health comes first, then school or work, then comes everything else.”
Since everyone with CF is different, you have to decide what’s most important to your health. Do your lungs come first, or exercise, nutrition or mental health? Postpone anything on your to-do list that’s not urgent. Better yet, let go of things you “should” do or even want to do if there’s no space in your calendar.
- Establish routines and stick with them. Charles C. Noble said, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” So true! Once you know the schedule of your day or week, find a routine that works for you. Maybe a 9 a.m. exercise class that you pay for will motivate you to wake up at 7 a.m. and do a treatment, grab a quick bite and head out the door. With practice and habit, you can look at the clock at 8 p.m. and know it’s time to start your treatment.
- Decide on time limits for tasks. A trip to the grocery store should be 30 minutes max. Limit emails to 30 minutes in the morning and night. An aerosol should take about 20 minutes. If you find yourself distracted and notice your aerosol has been sputtering for 15 extra minutes, it might be helpful to set a timer when you start the treatment.
Also, if you are feeling too busy to do a treatment, try doing an aerosol for 10 minutes. Commend yourself for just doing something. CF care is like exercise. It’s best to do 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, but if you manage 10 minutes here and there it all adds up and is better than nothing.
- If you find yourself procrastinating at the start of a treatment, or going to bed, assess the situation. Remember to do your “I hates” first. Ask yourself what you are avoiding. What are you getting out of delaying what you need to do? What are the consequences, positive and negative, of procrastination? What tools (friends, rewards, alarms) can you use to help out? When you are finally doing what you need to do, recite this quote over and over: “Heroism ... is endurance for one moment more.” (George F. Kennan)
- Schedule breaks! Life is so full when you are an adult. You need to make time to chill out. If you need to block out two hours of your calendar to nap or lie down and stare at the ceiling, that’s okay! Your mind and body will be grateful for some stillness.
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