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Managing Time with Chronic Illness – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck


Sometimes, it’s hard to find time for things you want and need to do, while living with chronic illness. I get it. It’s difficult, and it’s even harder to explain to others. It’s been described in terms of spoons, and in many other ways, ranging from the creative to the absurd.

That said, time management is an issue that everyone faces. It isn’t a problem that is exclusive solely to those of us living with an illness or disability. That said, our time may seem more precious or more limited, due to the fact of many hours or days “stolen” from us while we are sick or in pain.

The truth is that we all have 24 hours in a day. Whether we are sick or healthy, it is up to each of us to manage these hours as best we can. Some days, we may have more “usable” hours than other days, and that’s okay. We just have to learn to focus on doing what we can, when we can, with what we’ve got, and to make up for lost time when we can, as much as we are able.

Focusing on the present is a great way to make good use of our time. Our time truly IS wasted if we focus on the past or worry about the future. Live for today, and make it the best today that you can. Some todays will be easier than others. Some todays will be more productive, more fun, or filled with more sunshine or more smiles than others. Some todays will be gloomy, grumpy, sick, and pain-filled. Some days we will be tired, with near-comatose fatigue; some days we will be feeling uplifted, enlightened, young, wild, and free.

To not treasure each moment is doing a disservice to ourselves. To not relish in every day that we have is wasting this gift that is life. When we start beating ourselves up over a bad day or week, or worrying too much about the future that we forget to live for today, does it really matter how many spoons we have? An hour wasted is an hour wasted. An hour lived is worth ten.

This is just my perspective. I think that the Spoon Theory and others like it are great ways to explain chronic illness to those who don’t understand — in fact, I refer others to the page often and think that the writer is brilliant to have come up with such a poignant analogy. That said, I would caution patients themselves to think of their life in such limited terms. Life is always in motion. Live in flux, adapting moment to moment. Don’t view everything as black and white; don’t live inside a box with a set amount of spoons, or you may find yourself at the end of your life, grasping at straws instead, wishing you could get back each moment that was wasted worrying about the future or spent confining yourself solely to the identity and the timeline that comes with these conditions.

I won’t let my health conditions define my future, or my present … and my past won’t define me, either. There’s a lot of life left to live, and so I take it one day at a time, allowing myself to have bad days, but savoring the good. Every second, moment, hour, day, and year is a gift — a gift that keeps on giving, if we let it.

So I try to conserve my spoons … but I don’t live by how many I’ve used up. Instead, I focus on all the good that I’ve got. And that is plenty. For that, is a lot!

If you need some tips on time management, check out this great resource. In the meantime, remember to make time each day to live your life to the fullest! After all … YOLO … so carpe that diem, my sweet friends!

Be Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck


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