A Realistic Plan to Get #$%@ Done: Systems, Schedules, Rest.

Managing focus and energy issues with Trauma Brain, ADHD, Limited Energy, Et. al.


If you are like me, you may have a combination of attention and energy issues. It might be clinical ADHD, chronic pain, cancer brain, trauma brain, widow brain, anxiety, or any of combination of the above.

You're bright, you're successful, but damn it you feel like a total imposter mess because you cannot focus and keep track of what you have to do. Even if you can keep track of it all, a bad day comes along, and BOOM, you're derailed, and along comes the spiral of self-pity, self-loathing, feeling like a failure, and starting over yet again. Whomp, whomp.

You also may have limited energy to get things done due to physical or mental health, so when you've lost track of where you are in a project or task, you use up that energy trying to get back to where you were.

Oh hey! I've also/still do dealt with that. We are not alone.

Real talk, I have tried EVERYTHING to focus while grieving,dealing with chronic pain, cancer brain, ADHD, anxiety, etc etc. I would have a system in place (I thought), it would get derailed, and then I would spend weeks (yes WEEKS) telling myself I was the worst person in the world and a complete and utter failure. I would get nothing done, rather I would just stare at the wall berating myself for every lost opportunity.

First of all, trauma brain, pain brain, widow brain, ADHD, brain fog, all of it, ARE NOT OUR FAULT. We are not somehow faulty or damaged or lesser than others. We have energy management issues on top of focus issues, AKA we're human and have a lot of crap going on in our bodies.

As overwhelmed as we may feel at times, we DO have the ability to empower ourselves to get things done when we have the energy to pick things back up and focus. When we don't have the energy, we can rest knowing that we can pick up where we left off, instead of panicking that we'll forget where we left off or what we were doing.

The key to success is having a SIMPLE system in place that let's you wander off mentally, take an unexpected nap, and then pick up where you left off.

(Look at these tips when you have the energy. If you are reading this at 3 AM exhausted, in bed, or at 3 PM exhausted, in bed, put a reminder on your phone's calendar to re-read this, go the F back to sleep and come back to this, PLEASE. Takes one to know one. 😉).

We know deep down that the physical issues like pain and brain fog will come and go for quite awhile. Empowering ourselves to be as productive as possible during our good days ON TOP OF managing our energy while being productive is the key to stopping the self hate spiral.

There are three important parts to this plan:

  1. Creating systems to keep us focused, while also showing us what is coming up and will be due, or events that may drain us.

  2. Creating schedules that allow us to get things done without exhausting us.

  3. Resting when needed without self judgement.

Step 1: Systems w/ the Planner Pad & Pomodoro Timer

I ordered the Planner Pad after I tried to do the concept myself in a notebook. DIY didn't work for me. The actual planner is amazing. It shows me everything that is on my mind, broken down in categories I like, and then funnels it down to actionable steps. It ALSO shows me what's coming up on the same page, so I can think about the energy I'll need. The video below is great! You can buy the Planner Pad on Amazon, but I can't seem to find it elsewhere.

I look at it when I get started in the morning, and I know what I need to get done based on what I did previously (which based on my energy, may not be the day before).

I then use the Pomodoro Timer to get things done in 20 min increments. This lets me get things done in short bursts, while also allowing me to get up and stretch so I am not in pain later.

Step 2: A Realistic Schedule that Manages Our Energy

I'm not the type of person who can schedule a day like this: 6am, wake up. 6:30 ride bike, 7am shower. Ew! What if my dogs have to go out or I have a phone call or a doctor's appointment? What if I feel like hell and need to take the day off? Then I am derailed and down on myself the rest of the day.

Instead, I attempt to manage my energy this way:

Morning: Get up sometime around 8:30/9ish. coffee, bike, stretching, dogs, phone, random internet surfing.

Work schedule: Work 10 - 3ish Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, sometimes Friday. If I have hyperfocus, I will sometimes work from 6 - 10ish in the evening. I can't have a regular schedule right now.

If I work 5 days in a week, I sleep 4 in a row. I hate it, but I'm learning to deal and forgive myself.

After 10am: - PT or doc appointment when I have it, look at planner, set 20 min stretches with my Pomadoro app , and get stuff done during those. I tend to work at the library and/or coffee shop when I really need to get things accomplished.

If I'm home, I have lunch, play with the dogs, etc, and have to set an alarm to start working again. Ha!

After 3: Read, play with dogs, make dinner, watch TV or read with Sam, crochet.

Bedtime at 9:30 if I'm behaving.

I know this won't work for everyone, but if you can, try it! If I don't do this, I am a crabby, painful, sobbing mess, but again, like everything, sometimes it doesn't work out.

Step 3: Rest Without Judgement

Exactly what it says. I try to only work Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. If I have to work a Friday or a Saturday in addition, I DO NOT allow myself to work Sunday or Monday.

I feel so much better &, ironically, get way more done if I set work boundaries this way. If I have to sleep one of those "work days" above, I do not berate myself. I just move on, or at least try to.

As with anything, it is a process. I'm getting better at the perfectionist self talk. Some days I still catch myself saying "I swear I am not lazy, I just feel like hell." I'm working on it!

So there it is, my 3 step plan to managing your focus and energy. Within that plan is up to you, we're all different with different times of day/week/month that work for us! No matter what, remember you are not alone, it is not your fault and you are NOT a failure. The only thing you can control most of the time are proactive attempts to manage the unmanageable.

If you need to nap, nap, and then pick up where you left off.

We can do this!


Want help pulling this all together? I have coaching opening after January 2nd! Email me for info.

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