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For most people, daily life is pretty busy and often hectic at times. With long lists of things to get done, it can often feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. Add CF treatments and doctors' visits to the list of things to do, and your days can feel overwhelming at times.

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Getting a daily routine down takes some planning and effort at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's usually smooth sailing. Once you figure out how to manage your time, you may be able to free up parts of your day that allow for the fun stuff. In addition, organization can help lessen stress levels. Here are some tips to help you get into (and stick with) a routine.1

Figure it out1

The first step in forming a routine is figuring out what is most important to you. In life, there are big things, and there are little things. There are things you must get done (priorities and responsibilities), and things you want to get done. In most cases, what you want to get done can come second or be done in between top priorities. To help decide what's most important, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is most important to me: health, family, friends, and/or school?
  • What tasks do I have to get done by today/this week/this month?
  • What can I do while I'm waiting at the doctor's office or when I do my CF treatments?
  • Where can I fit in extras if an appointment is rescheduled or an activity is canceled?
  • What can I put off today/this week/this month if something unexpected comes up?

Asking yourself these questions as you go is a good way to help get a plan in place. Over time, your priorities may change, and that is OK.

Plan

Once you have your top priorities figured out, it's time to start planning. Some people like to plan weeks and months at a time, while others prefer to plan on a day-to-day basis. Pick whatever works for you, and stick with it.

Planning for the month2

  • Get a big calendar or whiteboard (the one with calendar squares). Hang up in your kitchen or near your desk. You can also download apps on your phone that can set reminders and store important dates and information
  • At the beginning of each month, write down every important deadline, doctor appointment, and activity you have going on
  • If you're planning for yourself as well as others (family, roommate, or significant other), it's a good idea to have different color pens. Assign a color to each person who will be on the calendar
  • Mark warning dates for important events. For example, if you have a big deadline at work or school, don't just mark that day. Count a week back, and write in that date “one week until project is due”

Weekly and daily planning3,4

Planning for the week and day is more specific than monthly planning. This is when you can map out everything you need to get done. This can be as detailed as you like, even down to the hour. Keeping a weekly planner will help you stay organized.

For the week:
  • Write in what time you'll do your CF treatments every day that week. Work everything else around that
  • If the bigger dates (monthly) are already in place, look at the whole week. See where you can fit in things like errands, chores, grocery shopping, re-filling prescriptions, etc
  • Once everything is mapped out, see if there is any overlap or conflicting appointments. Reschedule as necessary
For the day:
  • Plan from the minute you wake up until you go to sleep
  • Write in things you need to start at a specific time first (example: breakfast at 7 am). Fill the rest in where it fits (example: grocery shopping 11:30 am)
  • Multitask where you can. Fold laundry while doing treatments or study while in the waiting room at the doctor's office*
  • Add daily reminders for when you have to take your medicine or 15 minutes before you have to leave for an appointment. Sometimes you need a reminder just to get out the door*

Go easy on yourself!

It's OK to make a mistake here and there or not have everything checked off that was on your to-do list. Unexpected things pop up. Sometimes you're just plain tired and don't feel like doing anything. That's OK too. You can't be everywhere at once, nor can you be there for all of your loved ones every time they need you. All you can do is give your best every day. Be sure to keep the following points in mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed when life gets a little crazy.

CF takes time and energy. Between treatments, taking your medications, and trips to the doctor, CF can be pretty demanding at times. If you slip once in a while on your everyday routine, don't beat yourself up. Make sure to get back on track the next day. In any case, if you find your treatments are suffering, it may be a good idea to re-evaluate your schedule. See where you can cut back to make more time to care for yourself.

Sleep. Sometimes, sleep and CF treatments are the most important and only things that matter. Say no to events and outings if you're feeling tired. You are not being lazy; rest is good.

Get away! Planning weekend getaways, road-trips, and mini-vacations is good for your overall health—mind, body, and soul. Every now and then you need to get away in order to re-charge your batteries. Doing your CF treatments at the beach, a friend's vacation home, or in a nice hotel can feel much different, in a good way.

Don't rush. At times, you may feel a sense of urgency, like you need to do and see everything at once. It's OK to slow down. Remember quality over quantity. Do 1 thing at a time. Do it well and unrushed. This will help you appreciate and enjoy what you're doing in the moment.

Make yourself #1. Always, always, always make yourself your top priority. Putting yourself and your health first will benefit you (and your loved ones) in the long run!

*Source: Siobhan Barry-Reid - Parent of a child with CF.

Source: Liz Christ - Parent of a child with CF.

References: 1. Fitting it all in. Johns Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Center website. http://www.hopkinscf.org/living-with-cf/health-and-wellness/fitting-it-all-in/. Accessed May 1, 2016. 2. Time management: month calendars. PBS Kids GO! website. http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/time/article7.html. Accessed May 1, 2016. 3. Time management: make a weekly planner. PBS Kids GO! website. http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/time/article6.html. Accessed May 1, 2016. 4. Time management: make a daily schedule. PBS Kids GO! website. http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/time/article5.html. Accessed May 1, 2016.

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