If you live with a chronic health condition, even the smallest of tasks can feel impossible to tackle. Showering, getting out of bed, and brushing your teeth can be major accomplishments.
But working an entire day? Getting through the workweek successfully? Dodging that one coworker who always drains your energy? Pulling off that report when all you wanted to do was sleep?
Now those are major accomplishments. There’s no such thing as a small feat when managing a health condition. Here are some hacks you can try that may help you get through the workweek with a little bit more ease.
1. Make a schedule
Schedules and to-do lists can help keep you on track during your workday. Make a simple schedule that includes basics self-care, like showering, making breakfast, and what tasks you need to accomplish at work.
Adulting can be hard and getting through the day with everything you’ve got going on is no joke — incorporate breaks and rewards for yourself after a job well done!
2. Bring a plant to work
Not getting outside during the day can impact your mental health and well-being. One study found that even something as simple as a potted plant can make a difference. Introducing some Zen into your life can be as easy as picking up a succulent.
3. Use a meditation app
Start out your workday or take a break during your day with guided meditation. Mindful meditation has been linked to decreased generalized anxiety disorder symptoms as well as help improving reactions to stress. An app like Headspace can help you focus and breathe when you get overwhelmed and get back to work because ... bills.
4. Create a comfortable environment
Take extra steps to create an environment that’s comfortable for you. That might mean lowering the lights, making sure you have comfortable clothes, keeping water nearby, a fan if you’re hot, a blanket if you’re cold, etc. Pay attention to your body’s signals and don’t ignore what you need at a basic function to thrive in a work environment.
5. Use headphones
Whether they’re noise-blocking headphones or traditional headphones to help you listen to music or soothing white noise, use headphones to help signal that you’re focused on work or to block out other triggering noises or conversations.
6. Set rituals
Rituals are more than a schedule that tells you what to do. They help prime your body for what’s next so you’re ready without even having to think about it. This might mean using the same cup on certain workdays to “power up” or always wearing the same shoes for work. Whatever it may be, set up rituals that help prime you for the next task without using up the energy you need for your mental health.
7. Change your clothes
If you work from home it can be extra hard to focus. If you stay in your pajamas all day it can be all too tempting to crawl back to bed. If you’re finding you’re feeling stuck at home while working, try simply changing your clothes. That switch can be the signal your body needs to switch gears from lounging to productivity.
8. Consider renting an office space
On the same note, if you’re a remote worker, consider office co-ops to shake up your work routine. You can get the benefits of staying socially connected while still using a private and comfortable area. SharedDesk lets you find coworking spaces for a few hours or months at a time. You can try out a new space without any commitment.
9. Take a break
It sounds counterproductive, but if you’re stuck and feeling unmotivated or unfocused, you’ll actually be more productive if you take a break. The best option is to take a break outside if you can. Take a walk or just get some fresh air. My husband calls this “shaking the stink out.” I think that’s a pretty accurate term.
10. Set a timer
Instead of focusing on how much you have to do all day, focus on one task at a time. Set a timer or use a time-blocking software like Rescue Time. When the timer for one task is up, move on to the next one.
It’s also a great idea to start your most difficult or dreaded task first when you’re fresh so it’s over with quickly.
11. Learn your natural work cycle
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you have an afternoon brain slump when you just want to nap? Are you most productive precisely at 10 a.m.? Don’t fight your natural rhythms. Instead try to schedule your work accordingly. Do the tasks you need the most focus for during your peak times and save other more mindless tasks for those natural ebbs.
Chaunie Brusie is a registered nurse with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery nursing. She lives in Michigan with her family and loves traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out with her four young kids. She gladly cleans up dinner every night because her husband is a fabulous cook and she once famously ruined frozen pizza. She blogs about motherhood, freelance writing, and life at chauniebrusie.com.