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> > > > > Use the four ‘P’s’ – problem solving, planning, prioritising and pacing

Use the four ‘P’s’ to help with fatigue

When people feel fatigued, they often spend their energy on work and chores and give up things that they enjoy. Use the four ‘P’s’ to help you to conserve your energy, work out what’s important to you and give you time for things you want to do:

Problem solving – Often it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it that makes a difference. Look at your daily routine. Start to notice if you spend all morning doing the same type of repetitive tasks or if your working position causes you pain or discomfort. Perhaps your body complains when you do certain tasks or you get very tired by the afternoon. If a task causes you a problem, ask yourself how you can do it differently.

Planning – Make a plan of the things you want to achieve during the day or over the week. Plan how and when you’re going to do certain tasks, and spread them out wherever possible over a number of days. Make sure that demanding jobs are spaced out during each day or week.

Prioritising – If you list the tasks you need to do, you can put them in order of importance and decide what tasks you can remove, delay or hand over. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does this need to be done today?
  • Does it need to be done at all?
  • Do I have to do it, or can someone else?
  • Can I get someone to help me with parts of the task?

Pacing – Break tasks down into achievable parts and spread them throughout the day or week, and take short, regular rest breaks. Change your position and activity regularly. Don’t use exhaustion as a guide for when to stop – change your task or rest before you start to feel tired.

You may have found that fatigue has stopped you doing things you really want to, so it’s worth spending some time thinking what you could achieve that would make you feel good (for example socialising with friends or getting back into a hobby). Setting yourself small, weekly goals can help you build up to what you really want to do as you start managing your fatigue. You’re much more likely to meet small, specific goals than vague ones or ones that aim too high. Your occupational therapist or rheumatology nurse specialist may be able to help you set and review goals.

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