Because of Duchenne, I’m Working Smarter, not Harder

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by Hawken Miller |

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Millions of people around the country have quit their jobs in search of more fulfilling work, better hours, and work-from-home options in what the media is calling the “Great Resignation.” Some of them, I’m sure, are realizing that they don’t need to work a full 40 hours to accomplish their tasks. They’re trading in working longer and harder for working smarter and faster.

With Duchenne muscular dystrophy, I need to get more rest than the average person, and have been forced to take this approach, too. It has helped me to be more efficient and to succeed.

It hasn’t come easy to me, though. I have always compared myself to my able-bodied peers, and I felt like I was doing something wrong when I wouldn’t stay up all night to cram for a test, or write an eight-page paper. And as a professional if I didn’t work late, did that mean I didn’t care as much about my career as everyone else did?

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Of course not. I’ve always wanted to succeed and do the best I could, no matter what. However, throughout my academic and writing career, I have just had to learn to adapt to a condition that often robbed me of my physical and mental strength. Working with Duchenne, I’m forced to make my work time as productive as possible so I have enough time to recharge.

When working with Duchenne, technology helps

The first step I take is to eliminate distractions. One of those distractions is my phone (I’m not exactly perfect at eliminating my phone yet). A 2015 study from Florida State University found that even receiving a push notification can be as distracting as responding to a text, or making a phone call. These small things can add up and significantly detract from my desired goal, which is to complete a story.

Because I need to get at least nine hours of sleep a night for my muscles to recover, I have also learned to make technology my friend. The personal computer and internet have been around my whole life. We don’t have to go to a library anymore, or mail documents, so I make the most of these advances, which save me time and let me get more work done.

I also use a website called Otter.ai to transcribe interviews. Instead of scrubbing through an audio file and cursing when I accidentally rewind it to the beginning, I just upload my recordings to the site and artificial intelligence transcribes it for me. All I have to do is run a search function on the page and easily jump to what I’m looking for.

Having Duchenne is terrible, but I often look on the bright side. It has forced me to adapt and learn how to be more efficient when I work. It really is the only option for me, because with this illness sleep is king. My health is more important than school or my job.

I don’t have to burn the midnight oil to be successful. In fact, doing more with less time is a skill many employers appreciate. I’m using my disability to my advantage.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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