Working with PTSD: Why a Schedule Matters

Getting myself on a schedule was a challenge last year. I like to wake up naturally, and sometimes that’s my only option, because when my brain wants sleep, it will sleep.

I’ve found that having a schedule that mixes external obligations with internal goals is working for me this month. Yesterday I was feeling really overwhelmed with my workload but needed to be at a meeting shortly after lunch. Being on time was a struggle for me last year as it can take me longer than I think to get out of the house, so this year I’m trying to be aware of that and focus on leaving on time. I was 5 minutes early (the new goal) and the meeting went really well. It’s a project that I’ve had a lot of frustrations on but we had a great discussion and left with a clear path forward and assigned next steps. It felt really good.

This morning I had a meeting with a recently funemployed colleague, and the ideas and work we discussed were inspiring and energetic. Again, getting out of the house and being on time was a positive experience and well worth the effort. To add to that, I was on top of my work before and after these two meetings because I was concerned about fitting everything in and staying on schedule this week while I juggle multiple projects.

I’m a planner so scheduling naturally works for me, but staying on schedule has been a challenge the last few years as anxiety has been a barrier to that. I’ve had to recognize that it’s an issue and something I have to be intentional about changing, and like any other change, I have to work at it and practice it.

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I’m excited that I’m only two weeks into the year and this is already proving positive for me. It can take a lot of my energy to be on time and be engaged in project meetings, and in the past that effort has wiped me out – sometimes for the rest of the day or for a couple of days. Managing PTSD is an energy suck, especially early on, and it takes a lot of work (it’s taken me 3 years. honestly) to be consistent and on time with work.

What I’ve also recognized is that for me to be my most productive at work, I have to stick to my non-work schedule too, the taking care of me schedule. Even on the days that morning stuff gets moved to evening because I don’t have enough time when I wake up, I’ve started being careful about stopping, eating and completing my daily routine. So it’s not a hard and fast schedule, but it’s a schedule that prioritizes taking care of myself so that I can be in a place to walk out the door on time and deliver projects to my clients in a way that meets both my expectations and theirs.

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