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Working with constant Low Energy

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  • Working with constant Low Energy

    I have an Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism) which means as far as energy goes at the moment I have very little. This causes me concern with regards to GTD, because I have the system in place. Everything is sorted, but lacking energy with regards to GTD almost means I am lacking one of the key components. Do things based on Context, Time, Energy and Priority. OK with all but Energy, this at the moment for me tends to be a constant. Very low energy all of the time. I am taking medication and this is reviewed every six weeks, but as it is going I am only seeing very marginal increases. Hopefully long term this will be resolved.

    But for the moment, I am in this constant state of low energy. I am at least getting all of the low energy Next Actions done, but I can't keep going like this. I need to address some of my more involved Next Actions. Things are sliding only due to the low energy. I need to somehow kick-start myself into getting the other things done, and perhaps I am using this low energy as an excuse in my own mind, I don't know?

    I just feel frustrated, that I am not moving with things. In a way I am wondering whether to go back to more of a Daily ToDo List type of approach at least for the short term. Setting things out for the day that I have to get done for that day. Almost I suppose forcing myself to work on things even with the low energy. But then if I am not doing these things from within my GTD system, what would be different with a Daily ToDo list?

    I just can't make my mind up how best to address this problem of low energy all of the time. Don't get me wrong on occasions my energy levels do peak, and then I do get things done that require either more physical or mental energy so I know GTD is working in that respect. But for the most part these days are few and far between.

    I certainly don't think there is a solution to this, the ultimate solution will be to get the right medication and the right dose to get me back to normal. But I can't see that happening soon, it could be probably six months or even a year before I am A1 fit again.

    But if anybody has any ideas on how I can adapt things for the moment to address this problem of low energy I would really appreciate hearing them.

    All the best


  • #2
    adjust your expectations and commitments?

    Hi Steve,

    I definitely hear your pain - it sounds like a significant challenge. I certainly have low energy days, but nothing as long as what you describe. I have a few thoughts, though I don't know if they'll help:

    I suspect GTD can give you a leg up. For one thing, having your system up and running as you do should allow you to make smart choices about what you commit to (i.e., your projects and next actions), and to adjust these according to your energy level. I'm thinking that your energy level determines what you can do (i.e., the kinds/complexity of tasks, and how many), which should be reflected in your commitments and your expectations. Maybe you could move more things to the Someday/Maybe folder, and simplify a bit.

    Another thought might be to *really* break your next actions down. I mean tiny, e.g., something you can do in ten minutes. I've had good luck with this approach when I've been avoiding something. Once I get started, it feels a lot better, and I can often keep going.

    Maybe if you shared specifics we could help with them...

    Good luck!



    • #3
      Slow and steady...


      If I were you, I'd definitely give a try at breaking projects in to the smallest next actions you can think up. I'd also stop using the High Energy and Low Energy contexts since your energy is always low and you'll never get to a high energy next action. Just break next actions into physical contexts like Office, Home, Email and Phone and do them. Over time you may surprise yourself by how much you actually get done.

      One other thought is that you may want to go over your Next Action list and make sure that you are not actually listing a projects or non-actions on your lists. Those will stop you in your tracks fast.

      Good Health



      • #4
        For a different reason, I frequently struggle with low energy as well. I usually do one of two things:

        1. If an NA has been on my list for a while but has not been accomplished, I accept the reality that it's not going to get done in the near future. Then I move it to Someday/Maybe.

        2. I give myself a break. What I often consider to be lack of motivation often turns out to be nothing more than low energy. In the meantime I've overtaxed myself and have to spend some time purposely doing less in order to recover.


        • #5
          Thanks for the repsonses

          Hi Guys,

          Thanks for your responses.

          I have reviewed my GTD setup and broke things down into the smallest steps possible, then moved a lot of things into my Someday/Maybe list. Just reducing the size of the lists has given me more internal energy so to speak.

          I use MLO (MyLife Organized) for GTD, which is great for Context lists etc. But what I was finding where a lot of my Single Step Actions, that I had the energy to do, where getting lost in the rest of the Context list with items that are Project related. So I have modified my Outline to include Context lists for Single Step Actions within the Outline, rather than just a section for Single Step Actions. So in essence I have the option of looking at a Context list for only Single Step Actions, or looking at the Context list for everything as a whole. This appears to be helping me a lot. I am getting a lot of the Single Step Actions done now, finding that is giving me a little boost and then I am moving on to Project related Next Actions.

          So all in all things are getting a little better. Certainly breaking things down into smaller steps has helped. Also just accepting that due to circumstance a lot of things have to be in my Someday/Maybe list, at least for the moment while my energy levels are so low, has also improved things.

          Many thanks for all your help

          All the best



          • #6
            Do not volunteer yourself to to things for other people that they can do themselves or get other people to do.

            If you are a member of a non-work group where you have responsibilities, resign from those positions and responsibilities.

            Think about what items you can offload to others. Keep a list of those. The next time someone says, hey is there anything I can help you with?, you ask them if they could do one of these things.

            Ask someone to come over and sit with you while you do some of the tasks that you struggle with but that really really need to be done. Sometimes just having someone in the house playing xbox or practicing guitar makes you feel connected to other people and you can kind of steal from their energy.


            • #7
              I'm curious, is there any type of medication that you can take for Hypothyroidism?


              • #8
                Originally posted by remyc88
                I'm curious, is there any type of medication that you can take for Hypothyroidism?
                I think the standard treatment is to take a supplement for the hormones the thyroid should be supplying (but isn't). As Steve indicated, it takes some time to get the dosage right and for the body to recover from the effects of hypothyroidism.



                • #9
                  Originally posted by remyc88
                  I'm curious, is there any type of medication that you can take for Hypothyroidism?
                  Yes there are various medications, Thyroxin is normally prescribed. But with this it all depends on getting just the right dosage in order to get things back in balance. This is where I am at the moment, having medication reviewed and changed every six weeks. Hopefully before long I will be on the right dosage and back to normal, but it could take anything up to a year to get things right.

                  There are also two types of Thyroxin, synthetic which is created in a lab. Natural, which is taken from the Thyroid glands of pigs. Some people do better on the natural and vice versa.

                  Most people don't realise, I didn't until I had the problem, but the Thyroid gland controls a lot of your body chemistry and if it is out of whack you can have all sorts of problems. Weight gain, energy loss, depression, memory problems, lack of concentration, sore muscles, dry skin, slow heart beat, hair loss, hearing problems to name just a few.

                  I urge everybody next time they visit their Doctor/Physician to make sure when they have a Blood Test they specifically ask for their Thyroid levels to be checked, just to be safe. Especially if you have either unexplained weight gain or unexplained energy loss.

                  All the best



                  • #10
                    I am pregnant and a SAHM with a toddler, so I completely understand low energy.

                    One thing that I have found that has really helped me is to isolate next actions that stand alone from next actions that are associated with projects. Once I start working on a project (whether I'm just beginning or in the middle), I tend to work on it for a while. So I just have a "central control" page for each project where I outline the steps and note where I'm at. If the next action for a project is something that is done in another context (such as buying something I need to complete the project), I put it on the appropriate list.

                    Otherwise, I do not put my next actions for projects on my next action lists. My next action lists contain items that stand alone and can be done in a fairly short amount of time. And breaking things down into small pieces is critical. I used to be able to just "clean up the kitchen" after a meal. Now, I "clear the table," then I "put the food away"...after that I "load the dishwasher" etc. I don't write those things down per se, but that is how I approach them. If I told myself I needed to clean the kitchen, I would immediately become overwhelmed and need to go sit down and rest.

                    So I keep things simple and get a lot more things done as a result. I also pick one or perhaps two projects to work on during any given day. I would probably accomplish at least four times as much during a given day if I was not supervising a toddler and pregnant at the same time, but I don't allow myself to think in those terms. I just think of simple things and by the end of the day, I have a long list of simple tasks I have accomplished.

                    Here's to hoping you feel better soon!


                    • #11

                      Originally posted by pageta
                      And breaking things down into small pieces is critical. I used to be able to just "clean up the kitchen" after a meal. Now, I "clear the table," then I "put the food away"...after that I "load the dishwasher" etc. I don't write those things down per se, but that is how I approach them. If I told myself I needed to clean the kitchen, I would immediately become overwhelmed and need to go sit down and rest.
                      For home-based tasks and routines, uses a similar technique. She emails you reminders for very simple babystep routines (such as the above). If you follow her systems completely, you always have a "company-ready" home, eat good food, and have time for fun with your family. If you follow her systems sometimes- you will be doing much more than you did before....


                      • #12
                        Actually, I'm a fan of the flylady and learned a lot from her systems. I don't subscribe anymore because I've figured out what routines work best for me, and they don't necessarily correlate with what she does. I especially like the "use it and love it" rule for decluttering, and keeping down the clutter is essential of having a clutter-free mind as well. I agree - the flylady is great and can really help you get on top of things. .