I've given it some thought and I've come to an understanding about my aversion to the word routine. In my mind, having a routine and getting things done are two concepts that are intertwined. Unfortunately for me, getting things done, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, is a sketchy proposition at best. If you live with chronic illness like I do, you know what I mean.
My Biggest Challenge
I've been disabled by chronic illness for almost 7 years now and the thing I find the hardest to accept is the profound way my disability prevents me from doing.
I mean sure, I would expect my disability to interfere with getting big things done that require a lot of energy and time, like yardwork or spring cleaning, a day full of shopping or cooking. What I did not expect were all of the hundreds of little ways my disability interferes with me accomplishing the small things. I often feel frustrated at my inability to be productive. I have learned to recognize this as old expectations for my previously healthy body and consciously dismiss these expectations as unreasonable for my current state of being,
While trying to be kind to myself, I do acknowledge that I completely and utterly fall short in my ability to do compared to healthy people. I sometimes wonder how healthy people judge me, especially those without knowledge of my chronic illnesses and disability. Although maybe that judgment is coming from that small bit of myself that desperately wants to be healthy and normal once again.
A Plan for Success
Using this new insight, I've decided I need a simple routine, a routine that focuses on the basic essentials I need to accomplish each day. At this point in my life, it needs to be doable as well as specific and focused. My simple routine needs to set me up for success, so I can feel good about accomplishing what I can, gracefully accept what I cannot and have clarity about what tasks and projects belong in each category.
With this new frame of reference, it was easy to see that my routine needs to focus on two times a day: when I wake up and when I go to bed.
When I Wake Up
There are a cluster of items I need to focus on after I get out of bed that will help get my day started in the right direction. While this may look a little bit different each and every day, the basic tasks remain the same: get up, get dressed, let the dogs out, eat breakfast and then rest. This also happens to coincide with a time of day when I need to take my medications.
After mulling over several different ideas about how to make sure taking my diabetes medication is part of this wakeup routine, I've settled on combining it with testing my morning blood sugar, which is something I need to do every morning as well. That way, if I can't remember whether I took my medication or not, I can simply look at my glucometer to see if there is a blood glucose reading for the morning. I'm hoping that focusing on these two tasks together will ensure they both get done daily.
When I Go to Bed
This is the second cluster of items I need to focus on daily. This includes taking several medications before bedtime, as well as cleaning my CPAP machine before its nightly use. This is also the time designated for showering, since doing this in the morning wipes me out for the entire day.
I'm adding a regular "brain dump" here so I can let go of the things rattling around in my brain before I go to sleep. This will also lend itself to reviewing the upcoming day so I can get prepared mentally and physically for any appointments or special events that might be happening. Another integral part of this time of day is winding down and enjoy activities that are quiet, peaceful and sleep promoting.
The Time In Between
As for the rest of the day, I'll live by one guiding principle. I will check in with myself, assess my energy level and choose my activities accordingly. My brain dumps will be used for ideas about the things I'd like to focus my attention on and I will see if those things fit with my energy level each day. And I promise to go easy on myself if I'm low on energy and unable to accomplish much that day, as well as exercise caution on the days when I have more energy to make sure I don't over do it and wind up flaring myself up.
Over the next seven days I'll be paying closer attention to how this simple routine works in action and I'll report my findings back to you in my next Mission 2011 post.
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