By Sooraya, BA, The Strategic Recipe Developer
The ones that make you want to pull out your eyes. Or better yet. Have a tug of war with your hair.
Aaargh, why does your perfectly crafted planning always go sideways? 😤
You should be half way through your to-do list by now. But you just can’t seem to get your brain to cooperate.
“Yeah, right! Another day battling against my planner, and trying not to rip it apart. Great… Just GREAT!”
You switch off your laptop, fuming. “And what on earth am I supposed to do right now? Rest on the couch and wait for my migraine to suddenly go away? Grrr, this whole situation is getting on my nerves now 😠!!”
Can you relate?
Ask yourself these 7 thought-provoking questions when you have frequent migraines
Yeah, I get it. Sticking to your planner can be such a pain when you have frequent migraines. Or any autoimmune disease that is. You can’t predict when you’ll be sick. But with a proper system in place, you can totally knock off any task. Yes, even when you’re not your best self 😉.
Before we dive in, here are 7 quick questions for you. Of course, you don’t have to ask yourself these questions WHEN you’re having a migraine. You can totally do this before or after an episode. (It’s kind of a preventive planning in case you get a migraine. So you can move less ‘brain intensive’ tasks to migraine days when they pop up.)
📝 On days when you have a migraine (or any other autoimmune flare):
- What do you tend do?
- What goes through your mind?
- How do you feel?
Maybe you’re like Sarah:
📝 That’s totally fine by me but let me ask you this:
- What happens when your migraine lasts several days on end?
- What happens to your planning?
- Most importantly, what happens to you? And your mindset?
- Do you stress? And tense up because you’ve done absolutely nothing for days on end?
Then, let me guess. Your inner voice joins the chaos party by shouting at the top of its lungs,
Next to join this party is acid reflux. The moment your stress levels high rocketed, your stomach acid took a deep plunge.
👉 The thing is the more you stress, the worse your digestion becomes. And this in turn keeps you up at night, turning your life even more upside down.
Your migraines become unbearable & you just give up. ‘cause that’s your life now, right? 😏
So, the question is: how can you maximize your productive pockets of time? Be it because of frequent migraines or any other autoimmune disease? 🤔
🔹 Strategy #0
Become your own health detective. Understand what type of plan works for you.
Many people will tell you that you NEED to use a digital planner. But the truth is: what works for me doesn’t necessarily need to work for you 🤗.
Step 1: Decide if you’ll plan daily, weekly, or monthly.
Step 2: Will you use a digital planner or the traditional pen and paper planner? Or maybe both?
🔹 Strategy #0.1 – Use these 2 steps if you choose the pen and paper route
Step 1: Every night before going to bed, take 5 minutes to jot down:
- your tasks for the following day, and
- approximately how much time each task will take.
Step 2: Leave your planner in a visible place. As such it’ll be the very first thing you see the next day when it’s time to work. (Check Anna’s pen and paper planner below 👇)
🔹 Strategy #0.2 – Why going 100% digital may not work for you
You may forget to do certain tasks when your to-do list in front of you. That’s what happens to some people when they use only Asana. Moreover, there’s something special about crossing off completed tasks, don’t you agree? 😉
🔹 Strategy #0.3 – When classic and digital are the perfect team
Planning your work on your digital calendar helps you stay organized and productive. And anytime you’re sick, you can easily drag your incomplete tasks to another day. Or see if you can swap that day’s task with another one.
How to craft a perfectly planned week (and actually stick to it!) when you have frequent migraines
🔹 Strategy #1: Train your mind to become your best ally
Yeah, sure. Those who live migraine-free have A LOT of time compared to you. But it’s also true that we all have enough time. We just need to learn how to make the most of it. No matter what life throws at us 😎.
🗣 Confession time
Before I started having frequent migraines, I “worked” since early morning until late at night. But once I started to plan differently because I wasn’t healthy anymore, I got more done in less time. How you ask? Simple: I worked on my mindset and I adapted my planning to my circumstances.
📝 Now, it’s your turn to try this strategy.
Step 1: What’s your favorite excuse for not getting things done?
Step 2: How can you rephrase your excuse?
Picked up gem
Remember: although you’re not in control of what happens and what doesn’t, you still have the power to succeed. All you need to do is start. And believe that you can.
Stop using your migraine as scapegoat for everything that doesn’t get done. Instead trade it for a system that works for you. That’s how you create the results that you’re desperately craving for.
Anytime you’re hit by one of these frequent migraines, say this out loud: “My migraine doesn’t define who I am. Even if I’m sick, I’ll do the very best I can. I’ll knock off the tasks on my planner and continue heading towards my goals 💪.”
🔹 Strategy #2: Use these 8 steps to design your own success list
Why is planning this important anyway? 🤔 When you don’t write down what you have to do, you get the impression that you need to juggle spinning plates. Results: you feel defeated and overwhelmed before you even began attacking your to-do list.
👉 Pro tip: Start planning one day at a time or even one week at a time if you feel you can do it. Right now, what works for me is to plan the whole month in advance.
📝 Take out your notepad:
Step 1: Choose a specific day and time for your planning.
👉 Most people I know, plan on Sunday night. But I love doing it on Saturdays. I like taking a complete break from work on Sundays. Again, choose a day that works best for you.
Step 2: What are your non-negotiables?
🎨 Non-negotiables are stuffs that are vital to your day. Things you can’t say no to. Examples: Breakfast, journaling, reading, picking up the kids etc.
Step 3: What are the work related tasks that you need to complete during the upcoming week?
Step 4: What household chores do you need to do? 🧹🧺(And can you delegate some of those chores?)
Step 5: At what time are you the most productive and creative?
👉 This will help you plan your week around the hours where you can fully concentrate. For example, if your battery runs low as from 2pm, schedule the no-brain-needed tasks for that time. And keep all your mental work for early morning.
Step 6: What helps you feel better when you have a migraine? 💆♀️
Step 7: What are 3-5 goals that you want to achieve by the end of this year? (Both life and business)
Step 8: What steps do you need to take to be able to achieve these goals? (Check how Sarah broke down the steps to achieving one of her goals 👇)
🔹 Strategy #3: Prioritize your success list for a productive week
Before you ask, nope – planning isn’t enough. And that’s because when you don’t prioritize your tasks:
- Your to-do list seems frustratingly long 🤦♀️.
- You find yourself wrapping up at the end of the day, feeling meh. Because you realize that you worked all day long but didn’t complete any important tasks 🤷♀️.
- You work on un-important tasks when you feel slack. Or when you dread an important task 🙅♀️.
That’s why prioritizing is such an important step when planning. And this is even more true when you have frequent migraines. Once you identify your more important tasks, you can focus on them 🙏. This stops you from spending time on tasks that can be dealt with later.
🎯 So, what’s the difference between an important task and an urgent one?
An urgent task is something that:
- you have to do right now, and
- it simply can’t wait.
What do you do when your phone beeps or an email comes in? 📲 You instinctively reach for your phone, right?
You’ve been conditioned to believe that these are urgent tasks. And that you need to react immediately. However, most of these phone calls and emails can totally wait.
An important task:
- pushes you towards your goals, and
- connects you to your WHY.
Because of your frequent migraines, you have a pile of dirty clothes waiting for you 🧺. But even though wearing clean clothes is important to you, doing your laundry isn’t urgent. That is, you don’t have to drop everything and do it right now.
👉 Good to remember: An urgent task isn’t always important. And an important task isn’t always urgent.
In order for you to better grasp this concept, check out the Eisenhower Matrix. This famous productivity strategy helps to split up tasks into four categories as shown below:
- Urgent and important – Do this task now. Examples: Working on a project that’s due soon ⏳; writing your book.
- Important but not urgent – Plan and schedule this task for later. Examples: Exercising 🏋️♀️; calling your loved ones; daily journaling.
- Urgent but not important – Delegate this task or ask someone to help you out. Examples: Responding to emails 📩; booking a trip to the Bahamas.
- Not urgent and not important – Eliminate this task. Examples: Binge watching movies; checking your phone constantly 👩💻.
🎯 Use the Eisenhower Matrix as your secret weapon for fulfilled work days
Step 1: Look at the action list that you designed in strategy #2. What tasks absolutely need to be completed by the end of this week? Highlight them.
👉 Pro tip: Don’t have more than 3 to 6 items as your priority tasks per week (unless they are small tasks that can be quickly dealt with.)
Step 2: Start categorizing each of your tasks into the matrix 📝.
Step 3: What are the things that you find yourself mentally resisting? And thus keep pushing it for another day ‘when you feel like it’? 🙅♀️
👉 If possible, tackle these tasks first thing in the morning. This will make you feel more motivated to continue knocking off other tasks. Plus the remaining tasks will even seem fun to do.
🔹 Strategy #4: Schedule your success roadmap despite those frequent migraines
Step 1: Block some time off for each of your non-negotiable. Whether it’s your morning/evening routine or running errands or visiting your parents.
Step 2: Write down all the tasks that need to be done in categories 📑.
Step 3: Break each task into smaller tasks.
👉 Example: don’t just write “cooking”, write “cooking paleo creamy chicken.”
What’s great about Asana is that you can add the name of the task and then just add a description to it. Watch how to do it in the following video. (Click on the icon at the bottom right to view it in full screen.)
Step 4: Block some time off for your daily tasks.
🔹 Strategy #5: Sit down, take a deep breath, and knock out what’s on your success list
That’s kinda obvious, right? But for many of us, this is the most painful part 🤯. And this gets worse when you have to deal with a migraine on top of that.
🗣 Confession time
I realized that the more I fought against having to write articles, the more painful this task became. If you know what I mean, ask yourself:
1. Why am I resisting this task? 🙅♀️
2. What’s the best thing that can happen when I KO this task?
3. What’s the worst case scenario if I decide to sit down and do it?
4. What am I gonna lose by resisting this task? 😬
The thing is all about your mindset. 👉 If you think that something is hard and tough, that’s exactly how it will be. And that’s because your brain believes what you tell it.
🔹 Strategy #6: At the end of each week, take a step back to review what you achieved in the past week
Step 1: What day will be your evaluation day? 📈
Step 2: At what time will you sit down to review the past week?
📝 Some questions to ask yourself:
Question 1: What tasks did I get done this week?
Question 2: How did I manage to do everything that’s on my to-do list? 📋
Question 3: Why didn’t I finish task P?
👉 Maybe you didn’t give yourself enough time or something happened outside of your control.
🔹 Strategy #7: Take the time to root for yourself
We’ve been taught that the busier we look, the more successful we’ll be 🤦. And that’s why we keep sprinting from one task to another without ever taking the time to pause and celebrate where we’ve come.
A few months back, I started a “You go, girl” list. Fancy name for a list where I write down every single thing that I’m proud of to have achieved 💃.
👉 Examples: Developing one autoimmune protocol recipe, writing an article, editing food photos, taking social media courses even though I had a migraine every single day.
Don’t fall victim for these 7 rookie mistakes when planning your success list
🙅♀️ Mistake #1: Not scheduling break time
Working hours on end because you ain’t tired … yet. Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this too 🙈.
When you start planning, you’ll be tempted to put tasks one after the other. Don’t. When you complete task A, give yourself a break before hopping to the next task.
Don’t try to plan every minute of every hour. Not only will this drive you nuts but it’s also counterproductive.
👉 Why did you plan in the first place? To beat stress and overwhelm, right? By working endlessly, this totally defeats the purpose. And on top of that, you’ll want to give up because you can’t keep up with everything.
🔹 Strategy #8: Use the Pomodoro Technique®
Step 1: Choose your first task. Set your timer to 25 minutes ⏱.
Step 2: After these 25 minutes of work, take 2-5 minutes to refuel. Then start again.
Step 2: After you’ve completed 4 tasks of 25 minutes, take an hour break 🚴♀️.
👉 Pro tip: If you can’t work for more than 1 hour consecutively, don’t. Just play around with technique and come up with what works best for you.
What works best for me is to work from 8 am – 11 am with 2-5 minutes breaks after every 25 minutes.
🙅♀️ Mistake #2: Not scheduling any quality time with yourself
In a world where ‘being busy’ equals to success, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of the go-go-go mentality. Because relaxing and taking some time off is for the weak, right? Whether you have frequent migraines or autoimmune issues, self-care is a must 💇♀️.
📝 Question time:
- Do you have plants at your place? 🌱
- How do you look out after them? You water them at the right time & don’t drown them, right?
- What do you do if you see one of the leaves withering away? 🥀 Do you say, “Oh, it’s starting to die… I can stop watering them now.”?
👉 Well, taking care of yourself is pretty much the same thing.
🔹 Strategy #9: Date yourself
Step 1: Schedule time with yourself ✨. Don’t give yourself the permission to cancel it or re-schedule it.
Step 2: What activities can you do when you’re on your own?
👉 Spending time with yourself will help you achieve more when it’s time to get to work again. Plus it’ll help you be more creative.
🙅♀️ Mistake #3: Sleeping less to be able to get more done
Picked up gem:
When you deprive yourself of sleep, especially when you have an autoimmune condition, you weaken your system 🤒. And this often makes you even sicker. Why you ask? Because when you cut back on your sleep, your stress levels rises and your digestion, in turn, drops drastically.
🗣 Confession time:
This is something even I was guilty of.
- I’d tell myself that I can sleep 5-6 hours because I’m still young.
- I’d force myself to stay awake until 11pm.
- I wouldn’t go back to bed when I woke up at 5am the next day.
Results? I ended up with a thumping migraine that lasted nearly 1 week 🤕.
🔹 Strategy #10: Get the right amount of sleep
Step 1: How many hours do you need to sleep to feel energized? 🥱
Step 2: In your case, does a lack of sleep result in frequent migraines? Do you get thumping migraines when you go to bed past a certain time?
Step 3: What stops you from sleeping early? ⏰
Step 4: What can you do to get the right amount of sleep?
🙅♀️ Mistake #4: Focusing on similar tasks the whole day
Although ‘batching’ works for many people, it may not be the case for you. Using this technique, they bring together similar tasks and knock them down one by one 📚. Examples would be batch cooking or writing several blog posts one after the other.
👉 When you have a migraine, it can get hard to focus for long hours. And you may feel drained after 2-3 hours of creative work. So, here’s what you can do.
🔹 Strategy #11: Devise your own ideal workday
Step 1: Take out your notebook or open your digital planner. Group all your easy tasks.
Step 2: Group all the tasks that require a lot of brain power 🧠.
Step 3: For each day, mix and match easy tasks with more complicated ones.
🙅♀️ Mistake #5: Multitasking
Do you feel like you achieve a lot by multitasking?
For those of us suffering from frequent migraines, juggling between several tasks simultaneously tends to drain us completely 😵.
👉 Studies showed that focusing on one task at a time produces better results. Plus you get more done. How? When you multitask, your brain needs to jump from one thing to another and back. And this decreases its power more quickly.
🙅♀️ Mistake #6: Everything HAS to be perfect. There’s no other option.
There’s nothing wrong when you hustle for excellence. But it becomes a problem when you strive for perfection and start obsessing about everything being perfect 😣. And this often causes migraines because you’re putting your body under A LOT of stress. And for what? 1 perfect job completed. 99 remaining.
Wouldn’t you feel more productive if you accomplished 100 well done jobs in the same amount of time? 🤗