The amount of time that humans have to live their life is limited. There may be things that the individual can do to extend their time on the planet but death comes to everyone eventually. Nobody knows when their death is going to come so it makes sense that they treat time as a valuable commodity. This means that the individual takes steps to make the best use of the time they have. This concern may be of particular importance to those who are in recovery from addiction as they are likely to feel that they’ve already wasted too much of this commodity.
People tend to act as if they have all the time in the world and this is why it is so easy for them to squander it on things that are not benefiting them in anyway. If they were more mindful of how limited their time was they would likely be less wasteful with it. Unfortunately it is mostly those people who have been told that they only have a short time left to live that understand the real value of time.
Randy Pausch gave a lecture on time management where not only described it as a commodity but he also described how most of the world was suffering from a time famine. He described how wasting time had become a systemic problem in many cultures and that the only cure for this was good time management skills.
Giving an exact definition of wasting time is tricky because it is a subjective label. What one person decides is a waste of time might be the highlight of another person’s day. To say that something is a waste of time does not always say much about the activity in question. For example, one person might feel they have wasted time by starring into space for ten minutes, but somebody else might view this as a valuable use of time because it gave them a chance to rejuvenate and generate new ideas. There are some activities that people will generally agree are a waste of time such as:
* Worrying about the future.
* Poor time management skills mean that the individual spends longer on a task than they need to.
* Procrastinating action can greatly extend the time needed for the task.
* Regretting the past.
* Arguing with other people.
* Doing things they don’t enjoy, and don’t need to do, but do out of habit anyway.
* The individual has a work place that is messy and this mean that they waste time trying to find things.
* Feeling excessively guilty about things they can do nothing to change.
* Getting intoxicated on alcohol or drugs – substance abusers can even have blackouts where whole chunks of their time is lost to memory.
* Being angry and resentful.
One of the best ways that the individual can make use of their time in recovery is by dedicating at least some of it to achieving their goals in life. Once people become sober they can accomplish amazing things. Many of these individuals go on to turn their childhood dreams into reality. The work of making these goals a reality provides more benefit than just the achievements themselves. It gives the individual purpose in their recovery, and it also makes sobriety all the more precious to them. The individual soon finds that turning their dreams into reality is a far more satisfying way to live than being an addict.
Those individuals who have escaped an addiction will usually feel like they’ve already wasted enough of their precious time. This means that they may be interested in ways to make better use of this precious commodity. The art of doing this is known as time management. This includes different skills and tolls that help the individual make better use of their time. One of the most effective of all the time management tools is to do lists.
To do lists refer to prioritized lists of tasks that the individual needs to carry out. As they complete a task the individual is able to put a tick beside it or for even more satisfaction they can cross it off the list. The to do list can be divided into yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly tasks. Most people will prefer a daily to do list because this gives them some flexibility but makes it less tempting to procrastinate.
The benefits of using to do lists include:
* It encourages the individual to identify all the tasks they need to do. This is important because people can forget to do things if they are not listed.
* It means that the individual can prioritize tasks. Some jobs are more important than others and it usually pays to get these out of the way first of all.
* It makes it possible for people to break things down into small steps. This means that the task feels less overwhelming and every time the individual manages to complete one step it gives them momentum to go onto the next step.
* It makes it easier to plan for the future. The individual knows what needs doing and this means that they can make better use of their time in the future.
* One of the most important benefits of to do lists is that it gives the individual an opportunity to organize their thinking. When things are written down they become clearer and this makes deciding on appropriate action easier.
* There is great satisfaction to be had by looking at a to do list with lots of ticks beside tasks.
* When the individual crosses off an accomplished task it can give them a boost which makes it easier for them to accomplish the next task on the list.
* It can even help people sleep better at night because they won’t go to bed with that horrible feeling that they’ve forgotten to do something important.
* This time management tool means that the person is able to do more with the time they have available to them.
* Some might even claim that using these lists it improves their mental and physical health and allows them to live longer. This is because the individual is less stressed and therefore less likely to suffer from stress related illness.
* Those individuals who are better able to manage their time will be more likely to find success in life – they are almost guaranteed it.
* The person can get a clearer understanding of their goals in life and the steps they need to take to accomplish them.
It is possible to use to do lists in such a way that they become detrimental to the person’s level of comfort. The pitfalls to avoid with to do lists include:
* Using them as a resource for the internal critic. Some people will view their failures to complete their to do list as a good reason to feel bad about themselves.
* It is a mistake to have a list that is just full of unpleasant tasks.
* Some people create an unrealistic list of tasks they want to accomplish within a certain time frame. Just writing things down will not allow the individual to achieve the impossible – such lists will only work to make the person feel bad about their failure to accomplish all the tasks.
* A to do list is a useful tool but a terrible master. The individual needs to make sure that they are using this resource to benefit their life and not as a means to harangue themselves.
* Priorities change in life and the person needs to sometimes make alterations to their goals. There is no need to feel bad about this.
* It is good to leave time for spontaneity in life. Those who insist on having a to do list for every aspect of their life are going to miss out on a great deal of fun.
* It can sometimes be nice to take a break from these lists and just go with the flow.
* The individual needs to set themselves goals that they actually want to achieve. The idea that they should do something is nowhere near as motivating as the idea that they want to do something.
The easiest way to create a to do list is to just use pen and paper. These days there are also software application and this means that the individual can easily create these lists on their computer. One example of this would be the Evernote– a free application that works on most mobile devices as well as computers.