Monday 13 March 2017

Spoonie Life: Making The Most Of Your Downtime


As someone with multiple health issues and who also spends a lot of their work day in bed resting. As well as needing to take days off in the middle of the week when I have deadlines a plenty, I thought I would do a piece on making the most of your downtime. Now I've been a writer for over fifteen years. I've been sick for the majority of my life, but my main conditions didn't really get bad until I was an older teen. So the tips and tools I'm going to give you are ones that incorporate both living with a chronic illness, and trying to stay on top of deadlines, work load and all of that. Bear in mind that just because it works for me, does not mean it has to work for you. Every spoonie has a different experience just as every writer has a different way of working. It's all part of being human.

So, with that said, here we go:

Now I'd suggest you do this, spoonie or not, simply because knowing what you need to do that day helps you focus and keeps you from being too overwhelmed by everything. It keeps you on target and it allows for any blips along the way that you couldn't account for when planning. I have talked a lot about my own scheduling techniques - sticky notes, a to-do list for the month etc. - but I also recommend planning for downtime. If you're a spoonie then you know that you're gonna have some days when you just *can't* and if you're like me, you'll feel horrible that you're not doing X, Y or Z. So you plan for your downtime, and in planning for it, you set tasks that can be done while having a bad day. Like right now I have a lot of my day spent in bed because of various issues. So I've planned for that. I have my desk and tablet and I can work from bed quite easily, allowing me to stay on target with both my writing and my admin stuff.

This goes along with organising your days. There will be times when you need to do something mundane and it's pushed to the back of the list because you've got the energy to write, so you're going to do that. But what you can do, is allow the mundane to be done during your downtime. Like I have scripts to write for writer volgs. I also have emails to reply to, questions to answer and blog posts to write. All of which can be done from the safety of my bed and my tablet. While they're not all "mundane" they are things that, if left to me, would be done last minute. So by scheduling that stuff to the days when I can't really think clearly enough to write makes it easier for me to balance out my working week.

Now this isn't really a writing tip or trick that I came up with, it's more the knowledge that without my cool desk in my bedroom, I wouldn't get half the stuff done that I do manage. It was pricey, but worth it in my opinion as it's not just something I use for work, but also allows me to watch netflix easily, talk to friends and generally have something to do on bedrest days. I also invested in a tablet. It was, again, pricey, but it allows me to work in bed and gives me the freedom to take my work with me when I'm in the hospital or on holiday or something. I also got myself a bluetooth keyboard. That wasn't pricey, but it does make typing easier and gives me more time to do stuff when I'm using the tablet and desk. You don't have to go for something expensive, I found what works for me, and I was able to justify the cost. It may be that for you it means getting a comfortable pillow to lean against, it can be something as big or as small as that. Whatever it is you need to keep yourself working during your downtime, and allows you to do so in comfort.


Following on from the last, sometimes there are gonna be days when you can't do anything. And that's okay. You need to accept that and allow your body, and yourself to heal. One thing I learnt early on was that pushing myself to do X, Y and Z on bad days just lead to more bad days and a vicious cycle was formed. Yes, there are days when I can do the mundane and work during my downtime, but there are many other days when all I can do is lie back and wait for the day, the pain, and the flare to pass. And that's okay. No amount of equipment or aggressive inner dialogue is gonna change that, and I need to remember that it will take as long as it takes, that I am not lazy and avoiding my work, and that my time off is needed to allow me to continue with my work on a better day.

So those are my four tips on how to make the most of your downtime. As I said before, some of them may work for you, some of them may not, I'm just going on what works for me, and what I've found to enable me to be as productive as I can be while also acknowledging that I am a spoonie. One thing I will add is that being kind to yourself means letting yourself heal, however that happens. I hope these are of some help to you, and as always remember your mileage may, of course, vary. If you have any tips you'd like to add in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

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  1. What can I say? Joey you are truly an inspiration. Keep up the great work! You are amazing. Lots of love, Lily

  2. Accept the downtime. Love it.

  3. Yep, gotta get those mundane task done. Putting things off make it worse.

  4. Great post with wonderful advice!

  5. Excellent advice from one who clearly knows. Good stuff