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Cancer Survivor Shows How to Find More Time

With summer over, two-time cancer survivor and clutter-clearing author shares time management help with a cancer-enhanced awareness that her time is her life.
PUBLISHED September 13, 2017
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
Summer is over. Things seem to speed up in the fall. I often feel like I have no time or energy. Part of it is because I am a two-time cancer survivor and part of it may be just because I am just getting older and currently exercising less. This fall will be hectic and then we have the holidays! Do you ever feel you are as busy as you can be, short on sleep, and it still isn’t “good enough,” especially since cancer treatment? What is the answer?

Quick fix magazines usually tell us to calm down by taking a bath or doing a little deep breathing for stress reduction. These are quickie techniques that are like trying to hold water in your hands. You might get in a few swallows, but most of the water spills onto the ground. Small, quick fixes do not feel like they really are the answer. Especially as survivors, I think we know this. Consider these thoughts:

Eliminate the extraneous stuff. When we find ourselves doing things that seem silly and “stuff-oriented,” maybe it is time to eliminate some of the stuff. When I have a smaller yard, and fewer things to clean, dust, and store, I have more time and energy for activities that are important to me.

Simplify. Truly simplify. Get rid of time-wasting activities. Part of this is reducing the stuff that requires our maintenance, and another part of this is being good stewards of our time. Spend time and energy on people and activities that restore you rather than drain you. When I make the tough conscious choices to do this, my gut tells me that I am moving my life, however long it might be, in the right direction. For me, that means making better heart-based and faith-based choices.

Put people first. Though my "stuff to-do” list gets long and household stuff like doing laundry, buying toilet paper, weeding out or taking care of things in my home, I try to keep and work on a people-based to-do list too. Some of us don't write down either of these lists. We have vague ideas of what needs to get done and who we should call, email or spend time seeing. When I put my "people" to-do list first, I know I am spending my time doing what truly matters. 

Take care of you. Have you ever had a small niggling health issue trigger the worry and fear of recurrence? I learned to just call the doctor right away and go get it resolved rather than let it eat away at my mental and emotional health. I can be a better me for those around me when I get things like that resolved quickly.

Make tough choices, rather than postponing them. As survivors, we know that sometimes the tough choices need to be made when we are working with limited physical energy or fatigue. It isn’t always realistic to “have it all,” especially all at once, and right this moment, even though our instant-gratification society tries to make it that way. When I step into the driver’s seat and make the tough choices, and when I prioritize, I become happier with my choices and my life. Please add your thoughts to share too!


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