JoJoisms

Step 16

Written By: JoJoisms - Dec• 11•17

Just three more steps to talk about in my series called 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode and this week’s is reminders.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

16. Reminders on computer or iphone

I used to use paper lists, but brain fogged minds often lose the list.  So I began using my Outlook Calendar.  When my computer was zapped by lightning, I transitioned to my phone, which was better for me because it has a loud tone that was near me when it went off.  I can’t tell you how many times I came upstairs at 4pm to find my computer had reminded me to eat lunch.

Technology’s a wonderful thing!  There are more ways to remind yourself to do things than there are people in the world.  Find one that works for you.  Find several if that’s what it takes. If technology’s not your thing and you love notebooks, use them.  Whatever works for you.

I can’t tell you how much pressure it takes off of my already fried brain to know I don’t need to keep certain things in my head for very long…not that I have as much control over that as the years roll on!  Whether your brain is overloaded due to age or trails, this is the one thing that will help you keep on track and not have to experience that old familiar heart wrenching, “OH SNAP!” moment when it’s too late to do something that went critical four days ago!

What kinds of things should you leave to a reminder and what things should you trust yourself with?  Well, that all depends upon you.  Take inventory of the things you tend to forget.  There was a time I couldn’t even remember to eat lunch so that got added to my reminders.  Here’s a list of things to get you started, but lest you think they are too simple to bother with, let me remind you that reminders have saved this old gal MUCH and that’s why these things are on the list of things to put on a list.

  1. Birthdays (with a reminder a few days ahead that allows you to buy a gift or schedule a call)
  2. Anniversaries (YES YOUR OWN!)
  3. Doctor and other Appointments
  4. Deadlines (anything from work related to ordering gifts for relatives and even the last day to call and cancel that trial software program you purchased six months ago)
  5. Household chores
  6. To update your food shopping list
  7. To make a recurring weekly part of a meal. (We like to have beans with our weekend family breakfasts so I like to schedule Friday afternoon to make sure I have enough for the weekend)
  8. Family visits (whether they are coming to you or you to them)
  9. Regular events (make sure to block out times when you’re usually busy with recurring events like church so you don’t inadvertently schedule something over it without thinking…so you don’t need to think too hard.)
  10. Subscriptions. (I always put a reminder in my schedule for a make up subscription I have. I love the makeup but I don’t wear it much so I have enough to last me ten years after my death! But they won’t warranty my applicator if I don’t have the subscription set up. So I remind myself to call in every three months to postpone it.)

What could you schedule in to remind yourself of that would ease your already burdened mind?  Put it in!

 

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Step 15

Written By: JoJoisms - Dec• 04•17

Step 15 in Getting Out of Survival Mode is to take notes and organize yourself.  That meant making lists. Here’s what I wrote originally:

“15. Make lists so you don’t forget

Part of chronic illness for so many is brain fog.  I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to take my meds, eat lunch, do laundry… I make a list each day of what needs to be done and include things some might think to be ridiculous like taking my vitamins, eating lunch or taking a shower. “

However, getting organized can mean so much more than just making lists and I’ve talked about a few of these in my earlier steps as they related to them.  Making lists and getting organized does several things:

  1. It takes the pressure off your brain fogged mind.  When overwhelmed either with disease or the chaos of other trials, you need to keep yourself organized or you’ll be expending too much energy just trying to remember everything you need to do.
  2. It lowers anxiety.  It can be stressful trying to remember all the things you need to do…in time to do them…ON TIME!  It’s so much less stressful to have them all written down, reminders in place so you can deal with all the other stuff you need to deal with…and I know there is plenty left!
  3. It lowers the chances of increasing the chaos and trials.  You and I both know that trials come in sizes.  Super size trials are the ones that overwhelmed you so much that you couldn’t remember to handle the things you could handle while you could still do so.  Keeping track of all you need to do helps you get them done on time to avoid penalties or making your trial worse.

With that in mind, here are other ways you can organize yourself:

  1. Lists can be on paper, on your calendar, on a phone calendar.  Whatever works for you.
  2. I recently found an app that makes my list making even easier.  It’s called Listaway.  It allows me to make several lists and then stick the tasks to be done (with deadlines) so that all my lists are in one place. In fact, I have Listaway on my iPad too so it’s coordinated no matter what device I’m holding. Also it means I can be on a phone call and easily see my lists and calendar which is also sincd to my iPad.
  3. Speaking of calendars…I have my calendar on both my iPhone and iPad so I can easily see what appointments I have.  I also have them color coded so I can see which appointments are things I need to get to (pink) and which ones I just have to do something by that date (blue).
  4. Alarms.  I have a hard time remembering things even with all those tools so I have a reminder go off on my phone AND iPad so I can hear it from where ever I am and know when things are getting ready to need my full attention or physical presence.
  5. I have several apps that I use to keep notes of things like symptoms I need to tell my dr, forms I need to fill out for my kids, ideas I have for articles, books and webinars (you might have other lists for your ministry/business.
  6. Notebooks help me keep organized for various projects I have.  You may want one notebook per project so you can keep notes as you think of them and have them all in one place.
  7. Ladies, you may want to keep track of your monthly female cycles.  If peri menopause is one of your trials or not, you’ll probably be too brain fogged to remember when the dr asks or if you need to know.  Mine were so chaotic in and of themselves that I couldn’t be expected to remember if I had a Sheldon Cooper memory!
  8. Keep records of the people you speak to about issues you have.  I kept a Charter Communication Log that ended up being about 50 pages long because we had so many problems with the cable company.  I’d write down the name of the person I spoke with, date and time, and issue as well as what the rep told me would be done.  It made it easier for me to complain and be taken seriously the next time I had an issue which was all the time.  Having specifics (names, dates, times, terms) makes your case more credible to the company.  You may not be able to remember what you had for lunch, but you can read what Linda W. told you she’d do on 4 September 2017!
  9. Put all your important documents in one place you can easily find.  I have all our birth certificates, bank info, etc in one file folder all in one place so I can easily find it no matter what head spinning chaos is going on around me that day.

Any way you can keep notes, records, ideas, and other things you may need later in any organized way that will allow you to find them when you need them will help you keep chaos at bay.  And that’s another step in getting out of survival mode!

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Step 14

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 27•17

Ok. Step 14 gets us a bit closer to the close of this series.  I originally wrote about shopping at Walmart: 

“14. Shop Walmart–less trips

I love to shop at Walmart.  I can go to just one place and get groceries, car tires, a birthday gift for Aunt Millie and take out for dinner all in one stop!”

But the truth is that any place that allows you to combine your efforts to save you time and energy is a great tip and part of the 14th step in Getting Out of Survival Mode.  This also saves you gas, frustration, and overwhelm.  Anything you can do that combines things into one trip, one store, one outing, will be a helpful step in getting out of survival mode.  So here are other ways I combine things:

  1. Amazon and Online stores. You can buy just about anything online. I’ve talked about that before, but I can’t stress enough how letting your fingers walk through the virtual yellow pages takes the sting out of just about all manner of shopping!  It’s my best tip for so many steps along the way that will get your further from survival mode!  Walmart even has an online version of itself now!
  2. Use your down time. I’ve had a lot of practice with having to remain in bed or on the couch due to chronic illness/surgeries.  Let me tell you that there are a LOT of ways you can combine your recovery (from surgery or resting from other trials and issues).  I did a lot of my work on my phone instead of my computer.  My dh bought be an iPad to help me do more that my iPhone couldn’t due to my overwhelming fatigue and pain of fibro and other health issues.  This allowed me the ability to do many of the things I needed to without having to get up and go to my computer.  
  3. Sweeps.  Sweeps is a word I made up just for this.  It’s what I call doing what’s needed while you’re already in that room or store or event.  If you’ve already hobbled yourself into the kitchen, you might as well combine the trip for coffee with the trip you were going to take to wipe down the counters.  If you’ve already gotten yourself to take a trip for Thanksgiving, you might as well combine that with all the trips you were going to take to the post office mailing Christmas gifts.  If you’ve already driven to the gas station, you might as well get the car washed on the way out.  
  4. Extra. If you’re already making a sweater or cookies or dinner for one person/event, you might as well make extra for other people/events.  It takes very little extra effort to make more dinner and freeze half than it does to make just enough for one night.  It takes just a bit more effort to make two batches of cookies than it does one so you can have twice as many to give as gifts at Christmas time.  

Anything you can do to increase the output without increasing the input by much is an opportunity to do more with less time/effort.  And that gets you one step closer to getting out of Survival Mode!

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Step 13

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 20•17

Step 13 in our 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode is stocking up.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

“13. Buy extra at the store if you can and go shopping less often

If you can, buy two or three dishwashing detergents, jars of spaghetti sauce or hair spray when you go shopping.  I’ve had too many times were I ran out of something and had to do an emergency run to the grocery store.  Not only is that an extra outing, but it’s done with the stress of having to run out and run back.  Double whammy energy zapper.”

Stocking up on things you need can be a great time saver.  There will be times when you are too overwhelmed, busy, or tired to get things done.  During those times, it’s great to look at your pantry or gas tank and know it can wait if it needs to. Here are some thing to stock up on when you can:

  1. Non perishable food like canned, boxed or packaged goods.
  2. Gas in  your car.  Top the tank off if you find you have time and energy.
  3. Birthday or note cards are great to have when you realize a bit late that a relative’s birthday is coming up.
  4. Stamps just in case you need to mail out a last minute card.
  5. Change.  You never know when you might need to break a $20 bill.
  6. Printer paper and ink, especially if you use a lot of it.
  7. Notebooks and pens. If you are a writer or love to make lists or even just need to write things out to figure out what to do about something, it’s always nice to have a supply of extra notebooks and pens/pencils.
  8. Batteries.  Nothing like getting caught in a black out with no batteries for your flashlights.  Especially the sizes you use most: AAA, AA, and C.
  9. Specialized batteries for things like your mouse, wireless keyboard, and hearing aide if you have one.
  10. Meds.  Make sure you keep track of your meds and order them long enough in advance before you run out.
  11. Wood for the fire place, especially in winter.
  12. Matches, candles, flashlights…

Those are just a few suggestions. Think about things you use the most or would present the most problems if you didn’t have enough.  Make sure to plan ahead and stock up on those items that will allow you to live a bit more stress free.

 

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Step 12

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 13•17

Just a few more weeks to go on our 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode series!  This week is step 12.  Here’s what I said in the article:

“12. Spread out outings

Have a few days when you don’t go anywhere to recoup and regroup.  Don’t try to go too many places in one day.  Even if you aren’t the one driving, it can zap your energy to do the shopping, look for a car, meet up with a friend for dinner and pick up your prescription on the way home.  Ask me how I know.”

If you’re struggling with health issues, you’ll find that going out, running errands, and visiting friends can be draining.  The best tip I have for you on this issue is to spread out your outings.  If you’re like me, you’ve got a bunch of doctor appointments scheduled. Maybe some physical therapy, a lab test, and maybe an ultrasound or two…  

This in and of itself can be draining, but to add food shopping, a department store to buy a gift, and a three hour drive to mom’s for Thanksgiving and you’ve got a recipe for a week in bed if you do it all in one day.

Spread out your outings or consolidate them if you can.  This helps keep the traveling and walking to a minimum.  Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  1. Buy what you need for gifts online.  Amazon is FABULOUS for this!  We use it for birthday and Christmas gifts because we don’t need to go anywhere and they’ll ship it so we don’t need to go to the post office.  They’ll even include a card from you so you don’t need to buy and send a card!
  2. Have family help with the errands.  During the time I’ve been in a cast or boot, I’ve not been able to walk much so my dh and son have been doing the grocery shopping.  (By the way, soon and very soon, Amazon will be able to help with perishables as well!)  This cuts down on the errands/outings I need to have in any given week while my foot is taking its sweet time to heal.
  3. Ask Aunt Alice and Cousin Fred to come to you instead of you having to travel to each of them.  This cuts down on the traveling you need to do and you can even ask them to bring pot luck so you don’t have to prepare as much.
  4. Discuss, if you can, with your family where Thanksgiving or Christmas will be hosted with yours (and possibly other family members with health or financial issues) in order to minimize the traveling for all involved.  Make sure to do this way ahead of time, especially if there is a long distance car ride or plane fares to be included in the decision.
  5. Seek out rides where you can.  I have no family nearby and my church family and friends have moved to other states or are 30-45 minutes away.  So I’ve recently found a ride program that helps people get to their physical therapy appointments for just $5.  Maybe there’s someone willing to ride share with you or maybe you can find something similar in your area for where you need to go.
  6. Work around your main appointments for other outings so your travel is less.  While you are in the area for your doctor’s appointment, you can stop by the grocery store which is on the way home, maybe? If you have enough energy left after that appointment??
  7. Ration your energy you have for outings.  If you know that the Thanksgiving trip will be quite draining, you may want to put off a trip to see your friend until next month.

When you have to ration your energy and time, you need to make the tough decisions on how many outings your body can handle.  Hope that helps as we head into the holidays.  Let me know!

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Step 11

Written By: JoJoisms - Nov• 07•17

Happy November!  We are closing in on the last steps in my series 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode.  If you haven’t read all of them yet, you can go to the JoJoisms home page and just keep scrolling down til you come to one you’ve not read yet…or when you get to step one, you can read through them in order.  

So far we’ve talked about being flexible, developing a sense of humor, being open to new things, not discounting the silly ideas, not investing too much time or money in the ridiculous.  And then some practical ideas: having your kids help, planning, using a crock pot, scheduling your time, and finding other tools to help.  This week, I’d like to discuss another method to getting things done: Break them up into smaller pieces.  Here’s what I originally wrote about this topic: 

“11. Break up house work

I used to clean my entire house in one day.  I can no longer perform that little feat of physical activity so I break up my housework into short spurts each day Monday through Friday.  I wash clothes on Mondays, dust and clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays, vacuum and do the floors on Wednesdays, clean the kitchen and microwave on Thursdays and do more laundry (sheets and towels) on Fridays.” 

When you are healthy or otherwise not overwhelmed, you may have time to do a task all at once.  However, when you are older, have more responsibilities, are struggling with various trials (or even if you’re a new mom), you will come to dread certain recurring tasks that take up your time and energy.  If you can’t delegate the task to another family member or hire a maid or personal assistant, the only alternative (besides living in piles of dust and germs) is to break them up into smaller pieces and tackle them one or two at a time.  

I’d love to permanently break up with my housework, but my bank account won’t allow it.  However, that’s not the only task I’d like to break up with! How about you? I discovered this lovely little trick many years ago when I started homeschooling.  In order to determine how long a text book would take each day to be on schedule to finish it by semester end, I’d break up the chapters or pages into weeks and then further into days.  There were 18 weeks in a semester so, if I textbook had 18 chapters, that would be one chapter a day.  An average of 20 pages per chapter would mean five pages per day M-F.  The same can be done with any task from housework to home business!

Need to read ten chapters by Friday, but you just can’t concentrate?  Break it down into two chapters a day or even one in the AM and one in the PM.  Have to plan an event?  Break it down into categories: food, invites, favors…and take a day or week (or whatever you have left) to get each one done.  Looking to clean out a room for when company comes? Break up each part of the room (closet, under the bed, floor, desk) and assign it a doable time frame.  The closet may need a week, the floor two days, the desk a day, and under the bed…well…maybe you can get your son to tackle that scary task, eh?

What tasks do you need done soon?  How can you break them down into doable portions?

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Step 10 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 30•17

Step ten in Getting Out of Survival Mode is finding tools that make your life easier.  For me, that was my hair.  I have crazy curly hair, but my dh likes it straight and, frankly, so do I. so I’ve spent almost a lifetime straightening my hair, but as chronic illness, surgeries, and overwhelm collide, I find myself in dire need of tools to help me save time.

Here’s what I originally wrote …

“10. Styler

I bought myself an electric styling brush that has been a life saver.  It straightens and even curls my hair when dry.  So when I wake up, I can simply run the brush through my hair and I’m done in 10-15 minutes as opposed to taking 45-60 minutes blow drying, curling and spraying my hair.”

This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary.  You may need to look for other tools to help you with different things in your life.  Here are just a few ideas.

1. There are tons of techie things that can make our lives easier: iPhones, iPads, computers, computer applications software…  now that I can’t get around very well until my foot heals I’ve been using my iPad instead of my computer in order to write, send my newsletters, and post on social media.

2.  There are also a lot of apps that can help you create whatever you need to with ease.  I’ve installed several apps on my iPad to help it function more like my computer since I can’t get my walker into my office.

3.  One of the most amazing techie items that I found recently is that my iPad comes with a voice recognition software that enables me to write without having to type.  This is a fabulous little invention for people who have arthritis, as I do, but also for people with poor eyesight (as I also have) who are  having a hard time typing or seeing the type-especially on a small screen.  In fact, that is how I’ve written this very blog post.

4.  There are many cooking tools on the market now that make it easier and quicker to cook a nutritious meal.  Most of them are advertised on Infomercials,  but many of them have proven to be of great help to those with chronic illness or other issues.

5.  I’ve also found some other handy tools for hair.  Instead of having to spend quite a lot of time styling your hair you can put it up with many new, inventive, and decorative hair thingies.

There is 2017 and there are many tools and devices that can help people with chronic illness or overwhelm or other issues do the things they need to get done each day with greater ease than ever before.  What’s your favorite?

 

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Step 9 Getting Out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 23•17

We are up to step nine and here is what I originally wrote in my article, 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode…

“9. Shower at night

Mornings are usually pretty rushed and I am exhausted when I get up.  Taking a shower at night means I don’t need to do my hair or makeup afterward.  Cuts down on the time.  In the morning I can style and put my makeup on without having to worry about taking a shower. This works for me, though it might not work for everyone.”

Scheduling your time can help in many more areas than just your shower. Here are a few more things that can benefit from scheduling them at a better time.

1. Meals can be easier if you prepare several of them in advance. Cook twice as much on one day and freeze half to use later. Or cook two meals on one day when you have more time and/or energy…or help.

2. Consider when you have more energy. If you’re a morning person, do the brain work or physical labor items in the morning. If you’re a night owl, do them at night.

3. Consider how being rushed zaps your energy.  If doing something in the rush of the morning is stressful, maybe you can do it at night when you aren’t so pressed for time.

4. Schedule smaller bites. Break up house work into sections and schedule the energy zappers at a higher energy time.  If vacuuming zaps you, don’t schedule it on the day you’re running errands.

5. Frequently look at and consult your schedule.  Feel free to say no. Sometimes we feel compelled to help and then pay for it later. If you have an especially difficult week ahead, feel free to NOT add anything else to your schedule that week.

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Step 8

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 16•17

Sorry we took an unexpected blog vacation there, but I guess I severely underestimated my recovery time from my fifth surgery.  I thought since it was on my foot, that I’d just be hobbling around on crutches, but it seems that even with the walker, my loose ligaments chronic issue caused me a lot of pain in my hands/wrists such that hobbling travel between my couch and my desk was both slow and painful.  I’m currently wearing wrist braces so I hope I have that under control and that I won’t need surgery on my wrists as I did my foot.

Getting back to my in depth series on getting out of survival mode, I had already shared a couple of practical ideas: #6. Have your kids help and #7. Plan. Coming in at #8. The crock pot is your friend!

Here’s what I wrote in my short article:

“The crock pot is my dearest friend.  I love being able to throw things in there in the morning and have dinner ready by the time the family needs to eat. Cuts down on that frantic time from 3-4pm when I used to run around the house trying to find the one ingredient I needed and then looking online for a suitable substitute I happened to have in my pantry.”

Now that I’m dealing with not being able to get into my kitchen much less carry things while on a walker, I’m invoking #6 and #7 as well as my crock pot.  Having your kids help can be difficult even if they are old enough because they have other things to do and the crock pot makes that even easier.

My poor son is in the middle of studying for his SAT and SAT subject tests as I’m recuperating from my latest surgery so he’s pretty busy.  Aside from all the studying, he’s having to make me breakfast and lunch, help with the laundry, cleaning the house, and…making dinner.  To make things easier for all of us, we’ve employed my crock pot full time.

No matter your diet restrictions, there are crock pot recipes out there! We were vegan for about two months so I know there are crock pot vegan recipes.  Just Google what you want and you’ll find some!

Crock pots are easy to use because you just throw all the ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on, and viola!  Dinner is ready for whenever you set it. It stays warm for a few hours afterward so it’s hot whenever the family strolls in.

What I do to make it even easier:

  1. I search for a few recipes a week.
  2. Make enough of each so that we have left overs at least once or twice during the week.
  3. I make one new dish on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
  4. We have left overs from the Monday/Tuesday meals on Wednesday, Friday, and from Thursday on Saturday and Sunday.
  5. Some of the recipes we do are soups, some are stews, and some are other dinners.

The other great thing about crock pot recipes is that you can:

  1. Cook beans along with the meal.
  2. Use left overs as ingredients you’d otherwise throw out.
  3. Easily adapt other recipes to the crock pot without much fuss.

The crock pot is my best friend especially during this last surgery bout because it’s kept us fed at a minimum of time and effort expenditure.

 

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Step 7: Getting out of Survival Mode

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 25•17

The next step in getting out of Survival Mode is another practical idea: Planning.  Here’s what I wrote in my first article:

“7. Plan

Dinners were always my afternoon problem.  Planning out your menu for the week does help because you don’t need to think much about what to make, which I find takes the most amount of time.  Brain fog kicks in and has me running around the kitchen trying to remember what I’m making, much less find all the ingredients. Keep things with you in your purse that you might need when you are out.  If you are on a special diet, keep some approved snacks in your purse in case you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and you need to eat.  A little planning goes a long way.”

Planning is the best way to save yourself time, money, and frustration.  Plan out whatever you can: meals, housework, projects, appointments, etc.  The more you can plan for, the less you’ll need to figure out last minute.

Life happens and so you’ll always have stuff that will come up last minute that you’ll have to work in and fly by the seat of your pants.  Don’t worry, but if you remember step one is to be flexible, you’ll be able to work that in to your plans.  The problems only intensify if you don’t plan out what you can ahead of time and then have to add in something else on top of that.  So…

Plan your meals out in advance for the week if you can.  Make sure you have those in mind when you go to the grocery store that week.  Cook up the week’s dinners in advance if you can on a weekend when family can help you.

Plan out your schedule so you don’t forget things.  I love my iPhone calendar.  I put all my dr appointments, kids’ events, and then reminders for things I’ll probably forget unless my phone dings and tells me (like to take my new meds or a dr appointment).  In addition to putting in what I need to do on my calendar/reminders, I also put in the address and, if possible, the directions.  That way I’m not scrambling last minute to find the doctor’s address.  I even have a wallet with directions to all the places I frequent so brain fog doesn’t set in and I have a panic attack trying to remember how to get to a place I’ve been to three times in the last year and get it confused with the six other doctor’s locations I’ve been to in between.

Plan out whatever you can ahead of time, when you have the time, so that you have at least those things ready to go.  Trust me. There will be plenty of other things that will pop up out of nowhere that can throw you back into Survival Mode where you will need to remember to be flexible.  Planning is just a way to help you avoid Survival Mode as much as is humanly possible.

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