To quote the late, great Richard Rubin, PhD, CDE, “Diabetes Overwhelmus” describes the relentless demands associated with daily diabetes management. If you have diabetes, you may feel as if you are bombarded with information from your health care provider, family, friends, co-workers, and even well-meaning (yet annoying) acquaintances. There are so many “must do’s” associated with a diagnosis of diabetes, which can cause even the most organized person to become frazzled and situationally disorganized. Yup, there is a lot to do every day as you manage your diabetes.
As a registered dietitian-nutritionist and certified diabetes educator for over 25 years, I know that staying organized can be quite challenging. So, I teamed up with professional organizing guru Leslie Josel to come up with specific tools, tips and strategies to help people with diabetes become more organized in their busy lives. We wrote a book entitled The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life (Spry Publishing, 2013) to help people with diabetes and their loved ones get more organized.
Here are some organizing tips and tricks:
1. Use Checklists.
Brains are for thinking, checklists are for remembering. Use checklists to keep track of your supplies, as well as your daily diabetes tasks such as blood glucose testing. Keep a checklist for diabetes supplies you use every day (such as testing supplies), supplies to be kept in storage, supplies for travel, supplies for work and supplies to help treat a low blood sugar. Create your own checklists using pen and paper, your smart phone or other device or an app. Use whatever works best for you!
Let your checklist do the remembering for you. Now you can use your brain for thinking, without the pressure of having to remember all of the “must do’s” associated with daily diabetes management.
2. Think like a library, group like with like.
Have you been in a library lately? Children’s books are stored in one section, cookbooks in another and romance novels in still another section. Group your diabetes-related supplies together, just like the library does with books. Keep your diabetes testing supplies together in a labeled clear, plastic container. You’ll have everything at your fingertips when it’s time to test.
In the kitchen, group all of your seasonings and spices together on a Lazy Susan or on a tiered riser in your pantry. You’ll find what you need quickly, and prevent duplicate purchases at the same time. You’ll have those flavorful seasonings, herbs and spices ready when you’re preparing your healthy meals.
3. Store Items by “use” not by “fit.”
Have you ever come home from the supermarket and simply “shoved” a can of beans or jar of pickles in the back of the pantry because that’s where it fit? If you store items in the black hole of your pantry or refrigerator, chances are it’s lost forever, and you won’t find it when you actually need it. Start to store food items by use. Place everyday items within close reach, so you can locate them when you need them. Using the suggestion of storing like with like, you’ll find what you need easily and save money by avoiding duplicate purchases.
4. Create a Launching Pad.
In order to save precious morning minutes, pack up all of your diabetes supplies, work items, gym bag, etc. and place them near the door you exit through in the morning. This area is called your “launching pad,” and will reduce the likelihood of forgetting supplies that will help you manage your diabetes life outside your home environment. Want an extra tip? Pin an index card to the outside of your diabetes supply bag with the list of the bags contents, so you can double check your supplies. The index card will act as a checklist for remembering, and take some of the pressure off you in the morning!
Don’t try to organize perfectly, just organize enough. Start with one small step, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to becoming more organized and less overwhelmed with your daily diabetes management. You can do it!