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One common symptom of addiction disorder is becoming “dis-ordered”: missing work, forgetting appointments, neglecting personal grooming. An important part of detox is reorganizing life for new self-understanding, new goals and relapse prevention.
Anyone recovering from addiction can benefit from keeping life in reasonable order. Organizing generates a sense of personal strength, which increases motivation to stay sober.
ORGANIZE YOUR THINKING
Beware of letting little worries crowd out your priorities and life purpose. Make a list of things you’d like to keep in your primary focus (goals, dreams, core values, Bible verses, loved ones) and put it where you’ll see it regularly. If you’re really struggling, carry a copy with you and pull it out whenever you feel angry or anxious thoughts creeping in.
To further organize your thoughts, practice mindfulness or meditation on a daily basis. Such concentrated and relaxed thinking is a proven aid to releasing the unimportant from your consciousness.
ORGANIZE YOUR RECORDS
Do you frequently find yourself unable to locate a digital slideshow, tax return or support partner’s contact number when most needed? Collect all your important and frequently accessed information, and assign each item to a specific file. If you still aren’t sure you’ll remember it all, keep a master list in your wallet, on your phone or somewhere else that’s always within reach.
ORGANIZE YOUR HOME
What applies to information applies to material goods: put the most important and frequently used things where they’ll be easy to find. While you’re at it, put them where they’ll be easy to reach: if you use your slow cooker every workday, it makes little sense to keep it at the back of the top kitchen cabinet unless you’re six foot six and there’s nothing occupying the front of the cabinet.
If you really want to be safe, emergency-preparedness experts recommend keeping a special kit, stocked with first-aid supplies and whatever else you’d most need to take with you in case of fire, hurricane, tornado, landslide or emergency trip to the hospital. Put this kit by the front door or wherever you can grab it literally on the run.
ORGANIZE YOUR WORK
Whether you’re a CEO or a full-time homemaker, you have a list of duties that’s hard enough to keep up with without confusion over where you left something or what was already on your schedule. If you work outside your home, organize your cubicle, locker or other individual section in the same high-priority-items-in-easy-reach fashion described above.
Where you can, organize your work schedule to do most things at the same time each day, and put your highest-priority items first in the morning or during a time you’re at peak performance. (Make sure you know your highest-priority items, and even if you’re not under deadline pressure for them, work on them every day!) To avoid double-booking, have one master calendar to keep track of everything. And if you have regular offsite appointments, be realistic about how much time you’ll need to get there. (Don’t rely on time estimates from navigator apps: even if they’re accurate on drive time, you have to get out of your office and out of your parking space, then at the other end, you have to park and get to where your appointment is waiting.)
ORGANIZE YOUR COMMUTE
The principle of not waiting until the last minute also applies, of course, to your daily commute. You should already have an idea of how long it takes on good days and bad: always leave soon enough to allow for the latter. Get up earlier if necessary. And if you have a real-time navigation app such as Waze, by all means use it to check the fastest immediate route. (You might want to check official “maps” apps in any case: the best regular route may not be the one you’ve always taken.)
ORGANIZE YOUR LEISURE TIME
This may sound strange if you think of leisure time as a chance to finally cut loose from schedules. But if you’re recovering from addiction, having nothing to do can generate boredom that may tempt to relapse. Even without that danger, unscheduled leisure time tends to be wasted on whatever mindless low-priority activities are in easy view. You can make better use of off-work time by scheduling a hobby or project every week. Or a date with spouse or friends.
One final note. Don’t get so organized that your whole day’s schedule would be ruined if you missed one section of a revolving door. Life has its surprises and interruptions. Prepare for what you can, accept what you can’t, and when a major disruption happens, remember you can always reorganize after it’s dealt with!