Sep. 10, 2018

Staying on Top of a Busy Schedule

The Sharing the Journey series is by people like you and for you. In their own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.

This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:

What successful adjustments have you made to stay on top of your busy schedule, whether you’re balancing school or work?

Since I have two young children and work, managing a busy schedule is so important. I keep a couple of different calendars to keep me organized so I don’t forget anything. On the days I’m off and the kids are at school, I make sure I get a nap in before they get home. This way I have energy to make it the rest of the day. If I am feeling really bad, I rely on family and friends to help out in those times. It’s always helpful to have good support system. Roxi

Some successful adjustments I've made to balance a busy schedule when I had joint pain and/or fatigue was I made sure I ate a little different that day or took it easy. A lot of times you know when you’re going to have one of those days, so I make sure to pack extra snacks to keep myself going, and I always have something to help with my joint pain. Also, time your day to where you have time in between to rest, even if it's just for five minutes.Kayla J.

The start of school hits me like a freight train. Within only a few days, I am exhausted emotionally, mentally, and especially physically. Balancing work, sleep, school, and friends is a seemingly impossible task, but I have developed some strategies to cope with it all. First, I make sure to give myself one fun thing to do every day. Whether that's dinner with a friend or just talking to my mom on the phone, forcing myself to take time away from the madness helps me to emotionally recharge amidst the chaos. Second, I plan my coming week on the Saturday before it begins. This includes designating times to complete different assignments, scheduling events with friends, and setting aside time to get housework done. Undoubtedly, my plan changes as the days pass, but at least having a general outline before I jump into the coming week gives me great peace of mind and hope that I can get everything completed. Third, I choose when to work and plan strategically. On the days that I have lots of meetings and rehearsals scheduled, I try to decrease the amount of homework I do, (because when I get home I have very little energy to complete any school-related tasks). On the flip side, if I really need to get work done, I've learned to say no to social activities so I can direct all my limited physical energy into my studies. Though I still get tired often, I have learned to manage my schedule in a way that allows me the flexibility to listen to my body when I really need to rest. Becca

Planning! I keep a planner so I know what needs to be done and when so that I can reserve my (energy)Kayla B.

I am a full-time student, and I work full-time, so I feel like I am always stressed out and really busy. To balance both, I try to stay on top of everything and try to get things done early. I also recommend completing the harder tasks first so you have the easy things to complete last and you won’t feel so behind!Kyra

One of my big adjustments I’ve made is preparing my clothes the day before an appointment. I find that getting up and trying to do it on the same day is really hard. It’s time consuming and it becomes a problem to wait until the last minute. It makes life so much easier by making this small adjustment. Another major adjustment for me is making sure I have my pills out in my pill box with the days of the week labeled. I also make sure that the night before, I have put them in my purse. I make certain the count is correct. If I don't do this, I will forget. I notice also I must write things down, such as telephone numbers, addresses, appointments, and people’s name so that I won't forget them. Making memory notes is also an adjustment I have made to better handle a busy schedule. Organization is key when you are dealing with a chronic illness, and I find any adjustments that can make for a more comfortable day are a plus. Amazingly, these things have really improved my day. – Sylvia

For me, being a father of an 8-year-old that does karate and basketball and a second son who is 1 month old, using a calendar app has really helped me. I make sure to have a reminder for taking morning and night meds. For any important school or after school sports info, I also have a big calendar on the wall where I write everything, and I put it in plain sight so I can’t miss it. I also color coordinate everything. My son’s school had one color. Basketball had another color. Karate has its own color, and so on. It’s been very helpful. Another things that really helps me is a routine. Trying to do things in order as much as possible. After a few months, it just becomes habit to do what you need to do. – Henry

Staying on top of a busy schedule

How do lupus warriors keep their lives in balance? One essential strategy is planning. You plan your workdays or school assignments; your kids’ activities and homework; your family’s meals and snacks; and fun activities, rewards, and rest periods to help you recharge. You use one or even two calendars or a phone app to stay on top of everything.

But another way to keep your schedule manageable is to know when you need to say no. You may have high expectations for yourself, but if you push too hard, your health could suffer, or you could have a flare. The best approach is to make time for the things that really matter, say no to the things that are less important, and leave the rest for another day. Saying no can be difficult, but it is a valuable skill to learn as part of managing your lupus.

Give yourself permission to focus only on priorities, and cut yourself some slack. Remember, your health comes first. Read our tips on how to say no and maintaining a sensible schedule.