Episode 101 - A not-to-do list when chronically ill
In today’s episode I talk about a not-to-do list when chronically ill. I absolutely love having a to-do list, I love making lists. I love crossing things off lists.
When I got sick, my to-do list had to become streamlined and batched. Long gone were the days of being able to do all the things on all the days. One list I had to create, and probably stuck to the most, was a not-to-do list, and my top 5 I always had on mine.
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Transcript of episode
Today I want to talk to you about a not-to-do list when chronically ill. I absolutely love having a to-do list, I love making lists. I love crossing things off lists. I still work with paper lists, my mind feels more organised and less overwhelmed when it’s on a big sheet of paper. It’s easier for me to remember I wrote it down, let alone completed it! I also use a Remarkable 2 for any lists I need to take back and forth in the day-job, and for the forms that I use over and over because I can delete the handwritten notes and start again. I’m also always emailing notes to myself to remember.
I no longer use heavy to carry notebooks, and long gone are the days of a Filofax., and yes, from when they renamed in the mid-80s. What can I say – it’s a British company and still is. I ignore the 3 year stint it was owned by an American brand…
Anyway… I digress.
When I got sick, my to-do list had to become streamlined and batched. Long gone were the days of being able to do all the things on all the days. One list I had to create, and probably stuck to the most, was a not-to-do list.
Here’s my 5 top not-to-dos
1. Don’t speak unkindly to yourself.
If, like me, your symptoms include being clumsy and forgetful, these things are so much worse when in a flare. I caught myself being mean to myself so often. I wouldn’t say these things to others, so I had to stop saying them to myself. Life being sick is hard enough without us beating ourselves up.
2. Don’t say yes to something when you definitely have to say no.
For me this became super-important around social activities. I could no longer go out several nights a week and get up for work, or get all the things done in a weekend. Life became about one social activity per week, and usually on a weekend. Preference was always for the morning or lunch and the Saturday so I had Sunday to recover. If I could combine it with the food shop all the better. We didn’t have online delivery back then.
3. Don’t aim for spotless.
When I worked in oncology we’d tell our patients that as long as the sinks and worktops were cleaned, and the loo bleached, the rest could wait. I treated myself to a second Dyson to keep upstairs so I didn’t have to drag the other one upstairs. For a good while I ate ready meals straight out the container with plastic cutlery so I didn’t have to worry about the dishwasher, and I used take-out style cups so I could throw them away. Point being, settle for the quick wins, you don’t need to be deep cleaning all week.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready.
We just don’t have the energy to rush around at the last-minute. Shower in the morning then rest. Then do your makeup. I learned to embrace my naturally curly hair, and I often went out without makeup on because getting home meant I could just fall into bed if I wanted to. Also, think about your clothing. Both from a planned in advance perspective. I used to plan all my clothes for the week on the Sunday so I didn’t have to spend extra time each day. And consider comfort. We’re in enough pain without our clothes adding to it.
5. Finally, don’t compare your new life to your old life.
In my case, I can’t run as fast as I used to, so I got to set new PBs. For a while reading was a problem as I couldn’t retain what I’d read. Making dresses could cause back pain. And I couldn’t eat any old food any more. I had to make more conscious choices for the sake of my energy levels, my memory, and my poor stomach and bowel. Even now processed foods have to be carefully considered.
Also, remember that healthy people have ups and downs.
It’s so easy to forget that when we’re in the thick of being unwell and from the outside it looks like everyone else is having an easy time. My gran always said that you don’t know what you don’t know about someone else’s life. So don’t be so hard on yourself for your own when you think everyone else is moving on around you.
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you found this useful and create your own not-to-do list.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Life in Align podcast. If you liked what you heard please subscribe and share, so that we can get this out to others who are also wanting to take back the life a chronic illness stole from them.
And remember – you are worth it, and you get to choose.
Have a lovely day.