It’s common for the cognitive side effects of cancer treatment (commonly known as “chemo brain”) to impact how patients and survivors are able to do their jobs during and/or after treatment. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for successfully doing so, identifying approaches that suit you requires evaluating your individual needs and then using trial and error to build up your arsenal of tools and techniques. This includes approaches to time-management techniques that can help you strategize how to expend your energy.
Below are a few suggestions from The Good Men Project that may work for you:
- The 80/20 Rule. This concept is drawn from a well-known principle of time management that asserts that 20% of your efforts contribute to 80% of your overall output. Therefore, it suggests, the best way to maximize your productivity is to tackle work tasks that take the most time and effort early in your day, when you have the greatest amount of energy and internal resources available. We recommend writing down a list of prioritized to-dos and taking on each item one at a time so you can then cross them off your list. If you’re not entirely clear on how best to prioritize your day, you may want to check in with a supervisor who can provide guidance or confirm that you’re approaching your workload appropriately.
- The Pomodoro Technique. This is another well-regarded time-management method, which recommends carrying out work in small bursts with short scheduled breaks throughout the day. The recommendation is to set a timer for 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break, and to repeat this work–rest cycle four times. After the fourth round, take a 15-to-30-minute break and then start over again from scratch. The overall idea is that by working in small batches of time you minimize the likelihood of getting distracted, thereby increasing your ability focus. It also ties into the next recommendation, which is…
- Take More Breaks. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s been shown that taking more breaks throughout the day can actually help increase productivity and improve the overall quality of your work. Scheduling moments into your day to stand up and stretch or take a long walk, meditate for a few minutes, or listen to a song you love can help to boost your energy and refocus your thinking. You may be surprised to find that even the briefest of time-outs can go a very long way!
Be sure to check out the following CAC resources for more tips on managing “chemo brain” and increasing your productivity on the job:
- Read our articles on “Setting Professional Boundaries” and “Relieving Stress.”
- View the recording of our Balancing Work & Cancer webinar on Working Through Treatment.
- Download or order our free Living & Working with Cancer Workbook.