Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Energy Conservation and Work Simplification are techniques to help save energy and avoid fatigue/excess pain when performing activities. Using principles of energy conservation and work simplification can increase your level of activity without increasing fatigue. Energy conservation is any technique that preserves the body's energy. Work simplification is any technique that decreases the amount of work that needs to be done, making it more efficient. Energy conservation and work simplification require assessing an individual's daily activities and demands and creating solutions using basic principles of:
  1. Prioritizing
  2. Planning
  3. Pacing
  4. Posture
Ask yourself: 1) Does the task need to be done? 2) Does it need to be done by me? 3) Does it need to be done now? 4) Are there ways I can simplify the task?
  1. Plan your work day to alternate light and heavy tasks and pace yourself
  2. Develop a routine that allows you to use your time effectively and efficiently
  3. Make lists, organize tasks, eliminate and/or combine tasks/steps when possible, group activities or errands
  4. Determine the balance of rest and activity that works best for your body
  5. Take short (5-10 min), breaks intermittently rather than pushing to finish a task in one session
  6. Stop working before you get too tired or sore
  7. Manage time to avoid need for rushing, which increases tension
  8. Find shortcuts- use prepackaged foods, don't peel potatoes, buy clothes that don't need ironing (or think like me- God wouldn't have put wrinkles there if they weren't supposed to be there), shop online, buy in bulk, make casseroles and one-pot meals, fully make one corner of the bed before moving to the next corner, reuse dishes from the dish drainer or dishwasher instead of putting them away, store a set of cleaning supplies on each floor of a multi-floor house, use no-scrub cleaners and automatic toilet bowl cleaner, use an automatic can opener, etc.
  9. Use long handled reacher, duster, dustpan and other tools to decrease need for stooping and bending
  10. Sit when possible, use a high stool to sit on for tasks such as ironing or food prep; If you have to stand, raise one foot on a low stool or inside an open cabinet, alternating feet frequently, and/or have a cushioned floor mat to stand on
  11. Use a utility cart to transport items and slide objects along the countertop rather than carrying them
  12. Use electric appliances, lightweight utensils and tools, use the right tool for the job.
  13. Set work up to work with gravity, not against.
  14. Adjust the work height for maximum comfort- usually shoulders relaxed, elbows at 90 degrees- use an adjustable ironing board as a work surface or put a board over an open drawer, raise dishpan by putting a rack under it
  15. Arrange frequently used tools, appliances and supplies close to where they are used and easily reached, Keep small appliances on the counter, ready to use
  16. Set supplies up in a semicircle, within easy reach
  17. Eliminate countertop/desktop clutter
  18. Use both hands
  19. Support your arms- using them unsupported causes strain on your arms, neck and back
  20. Decrease need to hold objects by propping them up, using rubber mats or suction cups on a table, or a pillow on your lap to hold a book
  21. Use other body parts to compensate, such as a foot pedal to open a trash can instead of bending
  22. Reduce extra motions- make a bed or set a table in one trip around
  23. If lifting is necessary, lift objects using your leg muscles, not your back. Bend your knees and get as close to the object as possible
  24. Push heavy objects rather than lifting, use your body weight, carry objects close to your body
  25. Ask for help
Principles of Joint Protection
Maintain muscle strength and joint range of motion
Practice good posture and body mechanics (to reduce muscle fatigue)
Avoid positions of deformity and deforming stresses (ie., don't get yourself into positions that are uncomfortable or put strain on your body)
Use each joint in its most stable anatomical and functional plane
Use the strongest joints available for the activity- lift with your legs, not your back, hold objects with your palms, not your fingers
Avoid using muscles or holding joints in one position for any undue length of time- stretch every 10-15 minutes
Never begin an activity that cannot be stopped immediately if it proves to be too taxing
Pain that lasts more than an hour after an activity may indicate that the activity was too stressful.
Respect pain


  1. Tons of useful info here, Sheryl, thanks for gathering it into a coherent post.

  2. I would love to share your post over on my blog, Autoimmune Maven. I will make sure you get full credit and link back to you. Please let me know if it's ok. I wouldn't do it without your permission.