For some people, low energy and lack of stamina are more problematic than performing tasks. Some illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and lupus, cause general weakness, leaving people with limited strength and a tendency to tire easily.
If you have a lack of endurance or low energy, begin tasks with an open mind—there are many ways and degrees of accomplishing any task. Try to come to a compromise that suits your standards and energy level.
If you have general weakness, before doing any task ask yourself, “Why should I do this?” and “What will happen if I don’t do it?” If the answer is “nothing will happen,” then you may not need to do the task. For example, why do you sweep the floor when you do? Can you get by with sweeping half as often? Or, can you sweep the main traffic area regularly and the side areas every fourth or fifth time? (Typically, 80 percent of the dirt on the floor is in the traffic paths and the rest of the floor has very little dirt.)
Is pulling up the covers enough to consider the bed made? Must every wrinkle be removed and the corners tucked? Perfection takes more energy. Is it worth it? Find better ways to do things. Make one side of the bed completely before beginning on the other side. One trip around the bed saves both time and energy.
Consider the best time to do different tasks. When are your energy levels highest? Use the time when your energy level is highest to complete difficult tasks. Space high energy tasks throughout the week rather than trying to do them all one day. Work at a slow to moderate pace with frequent rests. A slower pace takes less energy and reduces the risk of accidents that may take more energy to clean up.
Try dividing tasks into manageable pieces. Mix cookies one day; bake them the next. Prepare a covered dish the day before the party so you can rest the day of the party.
Combine tasks. Take dishes from the sink or dishwasher to the table. This eliminates the task of putting them in the cupboard. If family size permits, make two casseroles and freeze one, leaving one meal ready to heat and serve when energy levels are low.
Eliminate tasks. Air dry dishes rather than towel drying them. Buy permanent press clothes to eliminate ironing.
Making Goals Easier to Achieve
Lazy Susans, pullout shelves, and vertical storage also reduce energy needs.
Where is the best work area for the task? Store items to be used for a particular task nearby.
Is a stool available near the sink? This permits resting during dishwashing or meal preparation. A high stool may even make it possible to sit while doing these tasks. Work surfaces at the proper height lessen strain on muscles. Stools are also available to allow sitting in the shower, eliminating the need to sit on the floor of the tub or stand while showering.
When scrubbing floors, sit on the floor and scoot around rather than standing and using a mop.
Slide objects whenever possible rather than lifting them. Use two hands to do the job rather than one. Use long-handled tongs, brushes, and dusters to reach high or low places with minimum effort. Lazy Susans, pullout shelves, and vertical storage also reduce energy needs.
Use a wheeled cart to transport laundry, dishes, or other items. This permits movement of more items in one trip and reduces energy costs. The cart is also useful as a support.
Power equipment also saves energy. Touch control panels on appliances are easier to operate than dials. No-frost refrigerator/freezers, with two or three doors, are generally good choices. More doors are generally smaller and easier to handle.
A loop attached to a door enables you to open it using the wrist or arm, which generally has more strength than the hand.
Look for utensils that do not require holding. Some items come with suction cups, clamps, or stands that leave both hands free to work.
Heat and humidity tend to increase fatigue. Air conditioning may be very important to productivity in the summer months.
Small changes in how you do things and simple adaptations can make your life easier and increase your independence.