Are you creating more work for yourself?

This article was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. 

Fatigue is a big issue with fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. I’ve recently been evaluating my everyday tasks and looking for ways to streamline them in order to conserve my energy. I’ve found that oftentimes I have just been creating extra work for myself. Are you doing the same? | Fed Up with Fatigue

This post was inspired by an unlikely source: the toilet paper under my bathroom sink (or really, the LACK of toilet paper).

When we moved into our home three years ago, I couldn’t find a good place to store our batteries, so I shoved them under the downstairs bathroom sink. Because the batteries took up so much space, I could only fit a small number of extra toilet paper rolls under the sink. That meant I was continually going up and down the stairs to grab more toilet paper from our supply closet. Up, down, up, down, up, down … I did this every couple of weeks for three years.

Then, one day I had an epiphany: Why was I creating more work for myself? Why didn’t I just move the batteries somewhere else so I could store more toilet paper under the sink, reducing the number of times I had to resupply it? Why had it taken me three years to figure this out?

That little revelation has prompted me to start looking at other areas of my life where I am creating more work for myself.

Are you making similar mistakes? Maybe you’re storing your most often used kitchen tools on a hard-to-reach shelf. Maybe you volunteered for one too many church committees. Maybe you’re writing checks to pay bills when online banking would be much faster and easier. Maybe you’re still lugging heavy bags of pet food from the grocery store when you could order them online and have them delivered right to your door. These are just a few examples.

Most of us with fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS have limits on the amount and type of physical activity we can take on in a given day, but life doesn’t stop because we’re chronically ill. If we’re able, certain things, like basic household chores or family obligations, still have to get done.

But how many times do we make these activities harder than they have to be? Maybe there is an easier way. I think it could be a helpful exercise to look at our everyday habits and ask ourselves, “Are we creating more work for ourselves?”

Let me give you an example of how I’ve been applying this question to my own life lately:

For the past 25 years, I’ve balanced my checkbook register against my monthly bank statement. A few weeks ago, I was transcribing my transactions into my check register when it occurred to me … Why am I doing this? All of my transactions are already listed on the bank statement. Since switching to online banking, I haven’t ever gone back and referred to my old check registers. If I want to know my balance, I just log into my bank’s website. I was creating more work for myself.

Another example:

I had ordered a new remote control from Verizon because our old one wasn’t working properly. When it didn’t arrive, I called Verizon, found out it had been lost in the mail, and they sent me a replacement. Fast forward a couple of weeks … the lost-in-the-mail remote had shown up at the post office. I brought it home and threw it on my desk, figuring I would call Verizon and ask if they wanted me to return it. Then I thought about it … Why am I creating more work for myself? Verizon has already written off that remote as lost. If I have to return it, then that means a trip to the post office (or the Verizon office, which is WAY out of my way), postage fees, etc. I didn’t make the call to Verizon, and we have a backup remote now. If they somehow track down the lost remote, I have it and can return it.

I know a lot of us with fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS have type A personalities. We tend to be perfectionists. We want things to be done just so. Humans are also creatures of habit. Once we do things a certain way, we tend to keep doing it that way without much thought.

But when we’re chronically ill, our abilities and priorities need to change. We need to simplify, simplify, simplify. We need to cut ourselves some slack and stop pushing ourselves to do it all. (Chances are, that “I’ll do it!” attitude probably contributed to us getting sick in the first place!) The truth is the world will keep turning if we don’t get everything done.

We need to stop adding unnecessary items to our to-do lists. Minimize our obligations. Streamline and reduce our tasks. Stop being people pleasers.

So today I challenge you to look at the activities you’ve planned and ask, “Are you creating more work for yourself?” Then cut out the unessential and figure out how to streamline everything else.


  1. Donna, I have followed you for many months, joined the groups you belong to, the network you belong to, signed up for every group or site that you promoted… No, I am NOT a STALKER! HA! I just have a great respect for how you ‘run’ your life. My name is Kim, (www.itrippedoverastone.com) you used one of my ‘tips’ about shaved ice for a newsletter! And during all of this, I was publishing my first book, a journal called the Shadow Boxers, Fighting Fibromyalgia and Amazon sells it! Needless to say, I admire you but I am so very glad I wrote this post. I have had to put the breaks on my social media life. It was too much! I now just follow who I like, write my blog and KISS (keep it simple stupid).

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hi Kim, I just added your blog to my Bloglovin’ feed, so I’ll get an update whenever you publish a new post. I’m happy to have you as my (not) “stalker.” 🙂

  2. A question I learned to ask myself is “what is the worst that would happen if I didn’t do…?” Helpful for cutting down a to-do list or activity commitments. For eliminating errands, Amazon Prime is Amazing! Virtually anything can be delivered to your door within 2 days,and often at better price than local or box stores!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I think that’s a great question to ask and really helps to put things into perspective. I love Amazon Prime! I buy so many things through Amazon now that my mail lady jokes about it. But it really saves the aggravation of going to the stores and hauling everything inside. I’m also a big fan of VitaCost.com for all of my health-related items, and I just starting using Door to Door Organics for my fresh produce. They deliver it right to my door for a flat fee each week. It’s a great service!

  3. i am laughing because after a two week trip, i came home checked my bank account online and started coping the entries in my checkbook register and had the same thought…why am i doing this?
    It’s always nice when you realize yiu arent the only one having these type of moments/experiences.

  4. Cleaning has been the worse. I can’t afford a housekeeper but I do have someone I know thzts occasionally to help. I also have stairs and I live alone with my furry family. How can I get in the right mindset? I need some !Ind of motivation. Donna, love the posts. Happy New Year to all and pray for a less painful 2017.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I know it’s tough to stay motivated when you’re not feeling well. I try to break everything down into smaller tasks to make it more manageable. For example, cleaning out my closet can get too overwhelming, so I break it down and just do one drawer at the time or one shelf at the time. I try to do some tasks every day just to keep the house in a basic order. For example, I try to make sure that the dishes are done and my kitchen countertops are wiped down each day and that I do one load of laundry (if needed). I also invested in a Roomba to keep the floors clean. It is worth every single dollar b/c I very rarely have to pull the vacuum out anymore. The Roomba does the work for me. Otherwise my floors would be a complete mess. I shared a bunch of my cleaning/organizing tips in these two posts: https://fedupwithfatigue.com/cleaning-with-fibromyalgia/ and https://fedupwithfatigue.com/cooking-tips-chronic-illness/

  5. Love the article. I have been streamlining my home for years. Unfortunately we ended moving twice in 5 years. I am almost done remodeling with our 1964 ranch house we are in. One more wall to be removed and I will have everything I need on the first floor. Yea me!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      That’s great news! I bet you’re going to be glad when it’s finished.

  6. Bonnie Watson` says

    Thank you for the reminder to quit being so hard on ourselves and lean against the “let it be” tree, as does Rose in a daily cartoon I follow. Love you posts and sit down with heating pad and read you! I finally hired a housekeeper bi-monthly and not really the way I would clean, but I learned to let her do it twice and if I feel a good day in between I’ll do those extra spots. Here’s to a New Year and hopefully more better days for us all.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      The “let it be” tree…I’ve never heard of that, but that’s definitely a perfect analogy. I finally gave in and hired a cleaning service too. I don’t regret the money spent on that one bit. It’s worth it to have someone do the harder cleaning.

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