Prioritize Your Daily Schedule
It's a hard fact to accept, but you can no longer do it all; arthritis affects your ability to be as active as you once were. You may remember a time when you got up early, worked all day, did your chores at home, went to the gym to work out, caught up on your e-mail correspondence, watched TV late into the night or socialized, and got a few hours of sleep before repeating the routine the next day. When you have arthritis, it dictates how much you can do in a day, and it may not be what you used to do.
To-do lists are a great way of deciding what you should be doing and in what order, especially until it becomes routine to think this way. When creating your to-do list, don't forget to allow time each day for your comfort regimen.
First, decide which things must be completed today. If you can delay something until later in the week or later that month, put it as a lower priority on your to-do list. Consider the consequences of not completing a task or activity today. Be reasonable in your assessment. Things with greater consequences must be moved to the top of your list.
Then, break your list into “must do,” “should do,” and “could do” categories. Consider positive consequences as well as negative consequences. How will it help you to get a task or activity accomplished today? Assess the things that repeatedly fall to the bottom of your list. Can those things be eliminated, or should they remain as low priority? Whatever you eliminate will allow you more time for other things. Revisit your list at the end of the day and reprioritize it for the next day.
Prioritizing is a good strategy for effective living in general, but even more so if you have a chronic illness and have to choose which activities require your attention. Since you will no longer be able to do it all, prioritizing your daily schedule becomes even more important.
Be Reasonable with Your Expectations
Lists are a great way of helping you organize your time. If you are unreasonable in your expectations, though, the list may add more stress, which is the opposite of what you are trying to do. Remember how many hours are in a day when you compose your list. Keep track of how much actual time you have committed to other things. In other words, don't make a to-do list that is undoable.
Take your twenty-four-hour day and consider: how much time you spend working per day, how much time you need to keep up with chores at home, how much time you need for leisure activities, and how much time you need to sleep each night to feel well the next day.
Don't forget that disease management should always be your top priority. It's a necessity for you to try to manage pain and other arthritis symptoms so you can give more of yourself to other things. If you allow yourself to rob time from sleep to do other things, don't expect not to pay for that in other ways.
Give Up Some Control
If you can no longer do everything yourself, deductive logic tells you that you may have to delegate to others or even hire professional help. Lawn care, handymen, housekeepers, babysitters, and others who can provide services will help more than you can imagine. The money it will cost will be paid back in many ways. Remember the importance of self-preservation. You may be inclined to think you cannot afford it, when, in reality, you can't afford not to do it.
If you can't bear to skip your turn car-pooling the kids, think again. Put yourself in another parent's shoes: Would you expect them to participate in the car-pool plan, or would you be happy to help them by taking their turn if you knew how much it would help them? When you switch roles in your mind, the right thing to do becomes clearer.