Living With MS: Get Motivated to Get Organized

Getting organized when living with MS

10 Feb 2016 | ~2:45 Engagement Time


David Rintell , Psychologist & Juliann Hanson-Zlatev , OTR

There are few things as discouraging as feeling like you cannot keep up with your daily life and the mountain of “stuff” you have to do. These days, people live busy lives, and people living with MS have even more to organize – such as appointments, paperwork, and medication schedules, to name a few. On top of that, MS fatigue can make it even more difficult to keep up. The good news is – there are many ways to become more organized and become more productive! 

But first, WHY does it matter so much to be organized? To feel more in control? To be on top of the daily tasks of life? 

Organization, both physical and mental, can take much of the strain and stress out of daily life. Following a few organizational tips can decrease the amount of energy you need to perform many daily tasks. Energy saved may translate into less fatigue. 

6 Energy-Saving Tips

  • Organizational Tip #1 
    • Have frequently used spices, dishes, and ingredients in an easy-to-reach place and easily visible in your pantry. RESULT: Reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet and reduce the feeling of aggravation you feel when you are searching for ingredients. 
  • Organizational Tip #2 
    • Plan ahead so you have all the ingredients you need to produce the meals you want to cook for the week. RESULT: Less time rummaging through the pantry, which is a physical AND mental fuel-saver. 
  • Organizational Tip #3 
    • Have cleaning supplies strategically located throughout the house to reduce the energy used in cleaning tasks. When every step counts – organizing your home and work place can result in huge energy savings that allows you to balance your life in a satisfactory way. 
  • Organizational Tip #4 
    • Perhaps you used to keep all of your appointments in your head, and didn’t need a calendar or a system. But living with MS often means that you have many more medical appointments, and it’s difficult to remember them all. 
  • Organizational Tip #5 
    • Find a calendar that fits your needs. Many people use a large calendar that hangs on the refrigerator door, but it is difficult to take that with you to appointments. Purchase a pocket calendar; use the built-in calendar on your phone or smartphone. Take it with you so that when you need to schedule a follow-up, you know when you are available. Make sure to let your partner know when you have appointments, in advance. 
  • Organizational Tip #6
    • Use your phone or calendar to remind you when to take your medications. It is difficult to remember when to take your meds, so program reminders into your phone or put your medication schedule onto your calendar. 

Prioritization is a fantastic tool for organization and a particularly good one when you are getting started. Simply put – start organizing things that are the most important to you or create the most dysfunction. Work with your partner to create a “to-do list,” and then put the list into order of importance. 

There is often a natural sequence to tasks. For example, plan to shop for your ingredients before starting to cook or sand the window sill before painting. 

Last but not least, among the reasons for organization is the peace of mind and body it brings. Feeling disorganized can make a person feel that life is out of control, which adds anxiety to daily life, which is certainly not needed. Becoming more organized can help you feel that your life is under control.