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Planning Worksheets: A Tool for Pacing

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By Bruce Campbell


Note: Part 1 of a two-part series on planning worksheets. Part 2
discusses the Relapse Worksheet and the Special Events worksheet.


If you have felt frustrated by cycles of push and crash, and would like to use pacing as a way to bring stability to your life, one tool to consider is the planning worksheet. Having written daily and weekly schedules can help you control symptoms by reminding you of safe activity limits. This article will show you how.


Before using the worksheets, you should have an idea of your limits, the more specific the better. For a quick overall sense of your current capabilities, assess yourself using our Rating Scale. Your self-rating will give you an idea of how many hours a day you can be active. For a more detailed understanding of limits, fill out the Energy Envelope form.  
 

Daily Schedule


The Daily Schedule worksheet gives you a way to translate your understanding of your capabilities into a daily routine of activities and rest.

Here's how one person made use of the Daily Schedule worksheet. Jane, who is married and in her 50's, contracted FM about 10 years ago. At the time she started using the worksheets, she rated herself between 30 and 35 on our Rating Scale, about average for people in our program. She lives with her husband. Her two adult-age daughters live nearby. Given her self-rating, she believed she could be active about three hours a day and could leave the house most days of the week. She wanted to work toward having a detailed schedule, but decided to start with just a few routines. Her initial priorities were getting good sleep, eating well and exercise.


Since getting good sleep was her highest priority, she began with by writing out her bedtime routines. (See box, below.) Knowing that she has trouble getting to sleep if she is active in the hour before bedtime, her first item specified a winding down routine. She also included items that reflected other things she knows about herself. She had found that taking a bath helps her relax. She also discovered that she falls asleep more easily if she spends a few minutes at night making a To Do list for the next day; having a list reduces her tendency to ruminate about the future. Since morning is usually the time her fibro fog is strongest, she puts out her clothes the night before. All these were included in her bedtime routines.

 

Bedtime Routines

Wind down: No TV, computer or phone calls after 9
Take bath
Make To Do list for tomorrow
Set out clothes for tomorrow
Take evening pills
In bed by 10


She decided that her morning and afternoon routines would focus on eating two healthy meals, stretching and taking pre-emptive rests. Since afternoon is her best time of day, she scheduled her daily outing then. (See Weekly Schedule for specifics.) The only thing she asked of herself during the evening was to prepare dinner for her husband and herself. (He gets his own breakfast and buys lunch at work.) The items she put on her schedule were not the only things she did during a day. Rather, they were those things she wanted to focus on at the time she started using the worksheet. As she succeeded with this first set, she added more items.
 

Morning Routines

Eat
Take morning meds
Shower & dress
Review & revise To Do list
Stretch
Rest for 20 minutes

Afternoon Routines

Eat
Stretch
Activity for the day (see Weekly Schedule)
Computer for 20 minutes
Rest for 20 minutes

Evening Routines

Fix dinner & eat

 


Weekly Schedule


Because not every day is the same, it is also useful to have a weekly schedule. When Jane filled out the form below, she believed she could have one "event" each day without intensifying her symptoms. Since afternoon is her best time, she scheduled most of her activity for that time. She created the following worksheet as a typical week. She knew that, if something unexpected came up, she would have to delete an item from her schedule. Because exercise is important to her, she planned to go to the Y for a water exercise program two days a week. She set aside one afternoon for grocery shopping and other errands. Two other events were her weekly cooking, and time for laundry and housecleaning. Finally, she scheduled two afternoons a week for appointments or socializing. Her one evening event was having her daughters over for dinner on Sunday.


My Weekly Schedule

SUN

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

Morning
             
Afternoon
Weekly
Cooking
Y Pool Appts Y Pool Appts Laundry Cleaning Grocery Errands
Evening
Family
Time
           

Jane soon concluded that her weekly schedule was unrealistic. She discovered that if she tried to do something every day, she needed to rest at least one afternoon a week and sometimes two. That meant that she could not schedule an activity for each day. The most her body could tolerate was five or six days a week. She also found that she could not both fix dinner and entertain her daughters on Sunday evening. Her body counted that as two events, which was beyond her limit of one event per day.


Her experience led her to conclude that her true rating was probably between 25 and 30, not 30 to 35 she had believed previously. After thinking more about her limits and talking with her family, she came up with a revised schedule. (See below.) She switched her major weekly cooking from Sunday to Saturday. At her request, her husband agreed to do the weekly grocery shopping. He and her daughters agreed to trade off preparing the family dinner on Sunday. Jane decided to free Friday afternoon for rest by spreading her laundry and housecleaning across the week rather than devoting Friday afternoon to them. She recognized that this experiment might not work and decided that, if the revised schedule proved too much, her next step would be to ask her husband to help with chores or to hire someone.

 

My Weekly Schedule

SUN

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

Morning
             
Afternoon
  Y Pool Appts Y Pool Appts Rest Cook for week
Evening
Family
Time
           

 


Other Ways to Use Writing for Health


The combination of pen and paper can be a powerful tool to improve your health. Here are other ways to use writing to support your health, all described in articles on this site:

  • Writing is Good Medicine reports on research that showed people with chronic illness were able to reduce their symptoms by writing their thoughts and feelings about stressful events in their lives.
     
  • The Healing Power of Gratitude reports on how writing daily entries in a gratitude journal enabled one fibromyalgia patient to improve her quality of life and gain better control over her symptoms.
     
  • Success Stories, such as those by Dean Anderson, Kristin Scherger, Margaret Ferguson, JoWynn Johns and Jana Murrell-Maxfield, demonstrate how a few minutes a day of record keeping can improve health by revealing the connections between actions and symptoms.
     
  • Health Logs: Big Payoff on a Small Investment: An article that provides more examples of record keeping.
     
  • Taming Stressful Thoughts gives an overview of Cognitive Therapy, showing how to use writing to recognize and replace self-defeating thoughts.
     

Resources


For printable versions of the Daily Schedule and the Weekly Schedule forms, and all the logs, forms and worksheets discussed on this site, go to the Logs, Forms & Worksheets page.

FlyLady website: www.flylady.com. Organizing tips for Home Executives. See section titled "Control Journal."