5 Ways to Be Productive with Chronic Illness: How I Built a Business from Bed

“The master leads by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve.” ~Tao Te Ching

Is there any productivity advice that is not ableist-based? Sure, there are lots of good ideas and concepts in there, but most of it is healthy-body-focused.

Like advice

“Be sure to exercise in the morning.”

“Get up early before anyone else.”

“Keep a consistent morning routine of meditation, journaling.”

“Set aside fixed times in the day to do deep work.”

“Get dressed and do your hair even if you work from home.”

“Set goals and stick to them.”

“Work harder than anyone else around you.”

Without ever getting out of bed or knowing when my body will be able to wake up, I’ve built my business completely from bed.

Although I have goals that I want to achieve, they are only achievable when my body allows them. I might have a few hours a day average of usable time, some days it’s barely usable at all.

I’m 95-99 percent bedbound and have been for the last eight years since I started my business. Two of those years I was homeless living in tents, and I spent three more moving from B&B to B&B or hotel to hotel.

My illness is threatening to destroy everything. It happens biweekly, sending me into an inability to function for several days, then a state of traumatization that lasts for another day.

This is how I was able to create a profitable business while simultaneously learning from productivity instructors and adapting the advice for chronic illnesses.

1. Get rid of all the stress.

People with severe chronic illnesses are often unable to work or manage a business because of stress at the office. Being able to work from home has made a huge difference in my success and survival. It is crucial to be able and able take on any task I choose, when it suits me, with no deadline.

But still, it’s been vitally important that I’ve worked on letting go of stress around my work.

Eckhart Tolle’s video about how thoughts can influence the outcome of a situation was one that I found very inspiring. It’s the thoughts and engrained associations with those tasks that create stress in the body making some of those tasks more difficult.

Technically, it is the same job typing a simple email to work and a letter to friends. Technically, it is exactly the same job watching a movie that demands concentration or an educational video to help you learn. This will make work seem less intimidating.

This is the most difficult item on the list for me, but I’ve made progress. This is something I’m still trying to master!

2. Don’t be perfectionist.

This must be banished to outer space! It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I don’t have to keep going on a task until it’s done or until it’s perfect. Without having to master every aspect of a task, I’m able to manage many parts at once.

I do focus on excellence in the research and writing for my job, but anything that doesn’t need to be done perfectly, I don’t. If it’s good enough then it’s done.

You can’t be super productive in very little time and get caught up on anything that isn’t needed.

3. On that note, let go of any and every task that isn’t necessary.

This has been the only way that I’ve found to make time for work, and can be a huge thing that holds someone back.

Emails that don’t 100 percent need to be sent or replied to? I don’t do it.

What about messages or PMs? I don’t reply to almost all of them.

Social events (online or even emails) that I can’t make it to, I don’t.

Are you keeping up with the email newsletters? I don’t.

Keeping up with the news, nope, can’t do that either.

Every task I get regarding an account, an order, or something that I have to resolve with a provider or company, I consider if it is worth the risk. If not, it’s not getting done.

Most of the misunderstandings I faced were around not replying to messages. But it’s a matter of survival. It’s impossible to do everything and still make enough money for food and my huge illness-related bills.

4. Use your time to make sense.

I don’t have very much control over my schedule, but I do have some. I don’t know if my body will function on a given day; I often urgently need to arrange getting medical appointments, medication, or other items needed for survival, and these things can throw off so many of my days.

Yet, my weekly schedule allows me to streamline and make time for deeper work.

Asking my caregivers to make sure they are there every day is a good idea. Some of those off days will coordinate with a “good day” for my body and will result in some time to dig into the larger chunks of work.

5. You can organize tasks according to ability.

I can’t know what my abilities will be like on any given day, so I always have a running tally of at least ten tasks that need to be done that vary in their length, cognitive ability required, concentration ability needed, and stress or annoyance level.

I have three or four that I can go to for good days. Deep research and writing are my best times. The smallest tasks go to the sickest, most distracted days or when I am sure I’ll be interrupted.

I always do something, though, even if it’s just a ten-minute task that day. My entire business success is based on this “just do what I can approach.” But I never choose not to do anything just because it’s a day when I don’t feel great or have good cognitive ability.

When I wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed at night, I make sure to take time to reflect on the task.

These are my strategies for building a successful business out of bed.

A “productive” schedule is one where you can accomplish what you want to in any way or at any speed that you need to.

Corinne Segura

Corinne Segura works as a professional building biologist to help people living with environmental illnesses build, renovate, or decorate healthier homes. The topic of her latest blog post is non-toxic couches. Visit her at www.mychemicalfreehouse.net.

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Tiny Buddha’s first post, 5 ways to stay productive with chronic illness: How I built a business from my bed appeared in the Tiny Buddha blog.

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