Rotating through tasks (Sensory Processing tip)

There are those days when focusing for longer than a few minutes is a challenge. Add to that the fact that my post-operative shoulder is flared up from carrying around my disabled 55 pound dog, and it’s difficult to get things done that take longer than just a few minutes.

The problem is that most things in my life and on my to-do list take much longer than just a few minutes.  There’s laundry to be put away, violin and viola practice that has to happen, dogs to be fed and exercised, and my own exercise which I have discovered to be increasingly important in working through my sensory issues.

So I discovered some tricks for getting through these types of days.  Hopefully this information will help others.


Today I have three things that must happen before I go to my occupational therapy appointment because after that, the day will be more than half gone with the appointment and other errands.  My three items are: exercise, practice, and laundry.

The following planner pages are from a company called DIYFish.  These are the v2.2 day on 2 pages version.  You can find her planner pages here:

I have at the top of my to-do list section my three items.  I have more items below in the usual to-do list but having these three things in this top area gives me something to focus on without other stuff getting in my way visually.


This is just my rotation list today.  I’ve found that three items are the maximum that I can rotate through in this manner without becoming overwhelmed or forgetting everything.  Each person is different, do what works for you.

In the back of my planner I have a section for fitness.  It has a list of exercises.  I rotate through those based on the day, etc. but I keep the total list in my monthly chart.  This chart is from the same vendor I listed above.  This photo is just a partial list.  I have my exercises divided up by type: core and back, lower body, upper body, endurance, flexibility, etc.  I also kind of know in my head which exercises are best for my SPD, like the big motor exercises, joint compression, pushing and pulling, that kind of thing.


Thirdly, I have my practice book that my violin/viola teacher makes for each student.  It has a list of all the scales, exercises, previews, and pieces that should be practiced in a particular week.  She has free downloadable practice charts available here:    When I’m learning a new piece, there are short sections of a piece that need to be done over and over and over and over again before I can move on to something new.  But that can be 1) tedious; 2) frustrating; 3) difficult to do repetitively because of my shoulder problems.

Finally, the laundry basket full of folded stuff that needs to be put away. Easy but tedious and I tend to walk into a room, put an item away, get distracted, and forget what I was doing before I walked in there.  Huge amounts of wasted time.  The empty laundry basket is the visual cue of when I’m done (easy, right?).

So I have my visual cues (lists and laundry basket) and I’ve written down the three things that I want to rotate through (exercise, music practice, and laundry).

Here’s how I rotate….

This morning I started with exercise.  I did some of my physical therapy exercises to warm up my shoulder joint.  I checked off what I did on my monthly fitness chart for today’s date and put a little dot by “exercise” in my rotation list.  See the little red dot?


Once I had done enough that my shoulder was warmed up and more flexible, I did a few preview repetitions.  I can tell when my shoulder starts to get fatigued and I have to be careful not to overdo it so that I don’t wind up having to take a day off from practicing music.  So then I add a dot next to “practice.”  I rotate that shoulder around a little bit, shake it softly, do some pendulum swings, etc. to release the fatigue.

Then I put away a stack of socks.  All the socks go into the same drawer so that’s easy enough.  I come back to my Filofax list and put a dot by “laundry.”  At this point I can look at my list and see that I rotated through exercise, practice, and laundry.

At this point I need to be able to concentrate on music again so I’ll do some squats or lunges, which are great for joint compression and proprioception and help my concentration.  I mark those off my exercise list and put another dot by “exercise” on today’s list.

Better able to concentrate, I’ll do some more violin practice.

Once I have something finished (the laundry basket is empty, for example), I’ll put a check mark next to the item so that it comes out of my little rotation.

Once I have a sufficient amount of practicing done or I’m just too tired to do more without injury, I’ll check off practice, ice my shoulder, and be done with my little rotation for the day.

So a completed rotation list would look like this:


You can see the dots from when I was rotating through and check marks when I was finished.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask.  Hope this helps someone!

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