Feeling Fatigued?

Everyone can benefit from using the techniques of fatigue management. Each of us has a given amount of energy to expend each day to accomplish our daily work and leisure tasks. The idea is to match your output to the number of tasks needed to be accomplished. This can be done by using good common sense and the principles of fatigue management found below. Occupational Therapy is profession that is highly trained to aide in fatigue management. For those with neurological conditions (i.e Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Stroke), fatigue management is detrimental towards progress in your rehab and recovery and/or disease management. At Colorado in Motion we have neuro trained Occupational Therapy that can further assist in this area.

The principles of fatigue management, which include energy conservation and work simplification, can easily be remembered as the 4 P’s:

  • Prioritizing
  • Planning
  • Positioning
  • Pacing
PRIORITIZING: Have a “Big Picture” of what your day, week or month will be like. You may not have the time or energy to complete all the desired tasks, so set PRIORITIES!.

1.      Ask yourself, “What really has to be done?” and “What do I really want to do?” Use the ABC Method for setting Priorities.

  • A’s- These are the time pressured, urgent tasks. These tasks make heavy demands on your creativity, ability to reason, or ability to plan. You must be at your best to do an “A” task. These can be stressful tasks.
  • B’s- These are the basic work level tasks. The everyday components of your duties in life, whatever they may be.
  • C-s These are the routine, busywork tasks that could wait until later

2.      Eliminate those things that do not need to be done (for example air dry dishes instead of towel drying them

3.      Make a schedule to organize your time, creating a balance of work, rest, recreation and exercise.


PLANNING: Planning is a mental map for deciding how to accomplish those tasks you have prioritized. Planning will enable you to match the level of energy you have with the level of energy demanded by your prioritized task. Two questions you should ask are:

1.     What does the task demand of me in terms of energy expenditure?

2.     When and how can the task be done?

After answering these questions, begin planning things out for your day or week. Occupational therapy can give ideas that are applicable to you for using energy conservation guidelines when planning your daily life.

Another aspect of planning is questioning the job you are doing and equipment you are using in order to make you rework the most efficient. Use these questions when analyzing your job and tools.

These questions require you to think through a job from start to finish and look at what the desired end product is and the best way to get there. You must consider tools, equipment, location, timing etc, all in an effort to best plan your activities and how they fit into your day. Remember that as you plan your activity you must plan for all 3 sets of action:

POSITIONING: Positioning refers to the way in which you position your body and tools during activities. This plays a large factor in the amount of energy that is used. Try to think of your body as a machine and position as to accomplish the most work with the least amount of energy.

1.     Eliminate unnecessary bending, lifting, reaching, stretching or walking

2.     Sit to work whenever possible

3.     Lay out storage and work areas to your advantage

4.     See therapy for additional suggestions on body positioning to assist with energy conservation throughout your daily life.

PACING: Pacing is most difficult to follow and is the manner in which you carry out the plan to accomplish priority tasks you have set for yourself. Pacing is the process of spreading out your energy expenditure over an extended time period. Just like a highly trained marathon runner must monitor his/her energy expenditure, so must you. Occupational Therapy can give you ideas and tips for pacing your activities and finishing not only your days but weeks and months as well.


Lisa Pirraglia is an Occupational Therapist at Colorado In Motion

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