By: Marilyn L. Davis
We All Distort Time in Early Recovery
For many of us, our addiction took on the cycle of use, withdrawal, and more use. Then we had to dodge family, responsibilities, and authorities. While these took time, energy, and effort, there was usually a lot of sitting around, wasting hours, or not being productive.
We waited for the dealer, for our family to get over the hard feelings, or for the cops to leave.
When we first get into recovery, time takes on a different aspect – there is either too much or not enough. We may become aware of how much time we wasted in our addiction, and desperately try to make up for all the mistakes of the past in one day.
Or, we think we don’t have anything to do and begin to romance or develop euphoric recall for our using days. When we romance our use, we only remember the pleasant feelings or experiences, forgetting the consequences of our use.
Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, summed up my appreciation of time in my addiction: “One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.”
Early recovery allows us to establish priorities, and we can manage this with a simple exercise in isolating the categories of your life.
Social, Emotional, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual (SEMPS) narrows down the five aspects of humans.
So, you’ll want to decide how your goals fit into each aspect. The following ten goal categories cover most of the things that become important to us in our recovery:
- Physical Well Being
- Volunteering/Service to Others
Time is a Gift: Learn to Value It
Are you spending minutes or even hours thinking about being productive, or are you doing things that get you results? If you’re not sure, here’s a simple way to know. Create a table or an Excel Spreadsheet with the following categories:
- Activities to meet goals
- Desired Results
Was I Productive this Week?
Decide on Sunday night, exactly what your goals or sub-goals are for the week. Write them down. Those are your priorities for the week.
Now record all your thoughts, conversations, activities, and desired results in one week to find how much time you spent in each category.
To make sure that you aren’t doing something very well that doesn’t need doing, try recording all your thoughts, conversations, and activities for a week.
You insert a hash mark (III) each time you do something in a particular category.
This chart will help you understand how much you can get done during a day and where your precious moments are going. You might be surprised at many hours you spent thinking or talking about desired results without creating activities that would produce the results.
If you see more hash marks under thinking and talking, and not an activity to promote change or move you closer to your goal, you may have wasted another opportunity to have better outcomes.
Tracking Your Time
You’ll see how productive you were or how much time you wasted on unproductive thoughts or conversations about your goals and sub-goals without concrete plans and actions to accomplish them.
We all undervalued time in our addiction, and learning to value time and using it wisely is a gift of recovery – use it to your advantage and see if you aren’t more productive in your daily routine than you thought possible.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.