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Thread: When doing the smallest task seems hard...here is a way to approach this problem.

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    Distinguished Community Member Lazarus's Avatar
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    Default When doing the smallest task seems hard...here is a way to approach this problem.

    Basic Occupational Therapy: Smaller Tasks
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    By Matt Allen G—October 28, 2016
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR VIEW ALL POSTS BY MATT ALLEN G
    With time your multiple sclerosis (MS) may start to cause tasks that were once done with ease to become quite difficult. MS may also affect just how much you can handle doing before burning out. Both these factors tend to determine your level of productivity so MS commonly causes people to feel like they just can’t get anything done! But you have to right? Other people with MS get stuff done right? But how? How do people with a chronic disease like MS maintain their lives when they sometimes may feel like the idea of simply getting out of bed seems like too huge an endeavor? When I realized that I was asking myself this on a daily basis I thought back to all the work I have done in occupational therapy and the number one rule my occupational therapist (OT) talked about; energy conservation. Finding ways to make tasks easier so they don’t cause so much fatigue that you can not complete them.

    Energy conservation
    This involves finding an easier way to complete a task so that it does not overwhelm you with fatigue. A lot of the time this will involve how you physically do something. Maybe you find it difficult or impossible to stand long enough to do the dishes or prepare a meal? The task of operating in the kitchen can be made easier by using a chair/stool to allow you to sit rather than stand. They sell adjustable stools with back support and arm rests specifically for this purpose and they cost just a little more than a shower chair! An OT can help you find many similar solutions to many different tasks but what I find especially helpful is the concept of taking a large (or sometimes even small) task and breaking it down into several smaller tasks. I often find myself avoiding doing something that really needs to get done because just the idea of it overwhelms me so I will end up just avoiding it all together.

    Tackling smaller tasks and resting in between
    I’ll use the cleaning of my desk area as an example; after a while I will be sitting at my desk and realize that there is just a lot of clutter, a fine layer of dust has settled over everything, my stack of unopened mail is spilling onto the floor, the trash needs to be emptied. As a whole it just looks like too huge of a mess to try to tackle right now so “maybe I will get it done tomorrow because maybe tomorrow I will be feeling better?” But surprise! Those MS symptoms that were bugging me are still there! Once I remember that this is typically just how I feel most the time and that if I put off getting something done until I feel perfect I will never get it done, I try to look at the task the way I learned to look at it in occupational therapy; as several smaller tasks. This helps me feel less overwhelmed because instead of seeing this as a huge disaster in need of a professional cleanup crew I can now see it as multiple smaller “projects” that I can complete at my own pace with rest breaks in between. Even if I don’t get them all done in one day I can still cross them off the list which means I am that much closer to a clean work environment than I was yesterday. Now I no longer feel overwhelmed because I am just thinking about one task at a time; take out the trash; dust; open all the mail; throw the envelopes away; shred what is trash; file what I need to keep. It’s a lot easier to tackle a task like this when you don’t look at the mess as a whole but instead focus on “open each envelope” and nothing else.

    Divide and conquer.
    Don't miss a thing
    Linda~~~~

    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says:"Oh Crap, She's up!"

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    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    Breaking up tasks can be really helpful--I agree.

    I have a desk problem that I've been looking at for weeks. I might even get to part of the clutter today. Or tomorrow....
    MS diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2002-2005. Copaxone 6/07 - 5/10.
    Member of this MS board since 2001.

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    Distinguished Community Member BBS1951's Avatar
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    ThNks for the reminder Laz
    Last edited by BBS1951; 11-04-2017 at 11:34 AM.

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    Distinguished Community Member Jen's Solitude's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more Laz. I never thought I would be proud of just getting one little thing accomplished but I have learned to cherish the times and to patiently wait when I am unable to do anything. Thanks for sharing your positive thoughts about a potentially negative situation.
    DAR
    R/R 1993
    So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles. (Matthew 6:34)

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    I do break things up into smaller tasks. If I did not I couldn't get them done. Sometime the fatigue is so bad that I might have my tasks broken down, sitting in between each one and resting by reading, or having on TV, still when I get one or two done I might have to stop for the day and let the rest go.

    I remember when I was working and I would often clean house on Saturday morning, before getting dressed and going out to shop. Now it takes me at least three days and sometimes four to do what I use to do on a Saturday morning. It still seems unbelievable. I still, in my head, make all these plans for things I want to do in one day. I guess that means I am a slow learner.
    Virginia

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    Yes, take stuff in small chunks works. That's how I manage my day. And take time to congratulate yourself on getting that small thing done. A list of small things crossed off can be very satisfying at the end of the day.
    ...I am not a doctor nor medical professional, and don't pretend to be one, here... :o

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    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    Some days I have a list of 25 things but accomplish only one or two of them. There's always tomorrow.
    MS diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2002-2005. Copaxone 6/07 - 5/10.
    Member of this MS board since 2001.

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    Distinguished Community Member Lazarus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agate View Post
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    Some days I have a list of 25 things but accomplish only one or two of them. There's always tomorrow.
    I have come to believe that having the 'list of 25 things to do is important even if we will not get to them. Having plans helps me believe...in something..
    Linda~~~~

    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says:"Oh Crap, She's up!"

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    Distinguished Community Member Jeanie Z's Avatar
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    Smile

    :) Y'all are amazing. I stayed in pajamas for 4 days this week. I finally made myself dress about 4 today. I went through the drive thru at Taco Bell, ate in the car and then to the grocery store.

    I was totally out of dinners and any food I wanted to eat and had no sodas. I bought enough stuff to be able to stay home a few more days. I have NO energy. My nails need doing but that is too much right now.

    I did not get up until noon and will go to bed early. Hoping each day will be an improved energy day. Jeanie :)

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    Jeanie, sorry you are so short on energy. I do hope this improves. I know how you feel about your nails. I had an appointment yesterday and I dreaded going, but then when I got there I was alright. I was just glad it was over for 3 more weeks. After that I was able to do a few more things before coming home.
    Virginia

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