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Friday, November 18, 2016

Gamifying My To-Do List - #Spoonie Style

Being a Type A sort who obsesses over getting things done, while grappling with physical disability and mental illness, means I'm always cycling myself into self-loathing, flight-or-freeze anguish.

It took me a while but I finally managed to design a system for getting things done that actually works - specific for spoonies like me who find even getting out of bed too difficult, too often.

Here is what I do:

1. Create a master list of tasks you need to get done. It would be an utterly complete list of things you would ideally like to get done should you have no health obstacles in a day. This list should not contain any activities that reap no benefits towards achieving your objectives, such as watching Netflix. Break tasks down into micro-steps where possible, for example: instead of just writing down "take a shower", break it into "shower", "wear clothes", "brush hair" and so forth.

2. Optional: categorise the tasks. (For me, I've categorised my recovery tasks into ADL - activities of daily living; reading, writing, exercise.)

3. Create a Bonus column that lists your stretch goals - things that are more difficult to achieve, but not impossible.

4. Tally the total number of tasks. I have 36 on my master list. I round up the number to 40 for ease of calculation.

5. Every day, draw up a "blank" to-do list, where instead of writing everything you want to do for the day, you fill in the list with every task you complete based on your master list from step 1. At the bottom of this empty list, you will at the end of the day, calculate how many points you score. E.g. [X/36] where 36 is your tally from step 4.

6. Every item completed gives you 1 point; for items from the Bonus section, award yourself 2 points. This goes towards your tally of marks. Your aim is to pass and obtain 50% out of your total tally from step 4. You can improve on this scoring system by setting yourself higher or lower percentages that you wish to obtain for the day.

I call this system my "dailies" which is a term from my youth when I played World of Warcraft and did daily quests for gold. The daily quests reset every 24 hours. The gold rewards were why we did them.

To further enhance this system, please set aside at least one day out of every week where you do not bother with trying to score any points. I call days like these "days of no-obligations".

If you are a spoonie like me, you will have to insert more than one day of no-obligations in a week. For instance, if I have a pain flare on Monday, I make Monday a day of no-obligations, plus Tuesday. Wednesday I set a lower score necessary to pass my dailies. For days where I have to go out for doctors' appointments and physiotherapy, I also make those days no-obligations. You can also consider combining weekends into one day; the aggregation of two days' worth of dailies are considered as one total score. In total, I gun for 4 out of 7 days a week where I strive for productivity. One of the categories in my master list is 'exercise' so it means I exercise 4bout of 7 days a week, which is something my physiotherapist considers a fairly good sum.

I combine this system of doing my dailies with other productivity motivation techniques that I have learned:

I find myself completely tired by nightfall, so I aim to do my exercises before that, usually in the late afternoon. I give myself rewards for getting dailies done, simple things like a cold juice after completing five exercise sets.

I combine tasks that have to be done at the same location - to feed my cats, I have to go to the kitchen, which is where my supplements are kept. Both feeding and taking my supplements are on my list of dailies, so I can get them both done at the same time. This applies to an office setting as well. For example, if you need to go to another department office to get one thing done, aggregate other tasks that can be done along the way to that department floor. If your mail pouch is located near the photocopying machine, get "collect mail" and "print meeting agenda" at the same time, instead of walking to that part of the office twice.

Through using this system, I've managed to break free of that vicious cycle of anxiety that keeps me from getting important thing done. I hope it will help you too, if you sometimes get trapped in the same "Dammit, there are so many things I need to do, I just...can't" situation.