My first instinct: “I’ll feel like doing it tomorrow”

Down.

some days i wake up and think that my dreams are not realistic. i’m not going to achieve what i want, so why bother trying. i’ll just start my day with a bagel + cream cheese, i’ll skip my run, wear my pjs until mid afternoon.

[some days i think that sobriety isn’t realistic. i’m not going to be one of those success stories on belle’s blog, so why bother trying. i’ll just start drinking at noon, have more after lunch, plan where to eat tonight based on the booze selection, fall asleep on the couch again.]

Up.

some days i wake up and it’s sunny, i’ve had enough sleep, i get right into my spandex and am out the door before I check my email. some days i eat quinoa and dried cranberries for breakfast, work away productively on my piles of things. I search online catalogs for imaginary furniture for my imaginary café. I listen to inspiring podcasts (TAL). I clean the living room windows. I empty my inbox before bed.

[some days i wake up and i think today’s the day, i’m going to be sober today. I really am. I do some yoga or go for a run. I read things that support me – online blogs – books. I have sparkling water with my lunch, I plan my replacement drink for dinner. I don’t put myself in any weirdly tempting situations, i just focus on today and do what needs to be done. I listen to inspiring podcasts (like belle’s, ha!) I change the sheets on my bed as a self-care treat.]

Meh.

Yes, there are Down days and there are Up days. But most days i wake up somewhere in between. I’m not excited, but i’m not depressed. I’m not really motivated, but i’m out of bed so that’s a start. It’s not sunny but at least it’s not pouring rain. I don’t really have any rose-coloured momentum but i haven’t ground to a halt either.

‘I’ll just wait till tomorrow when i feel like it’

My first instinct is to wait until tomorrow, hoping it’ll be an Up day. “I’ll do this tomorrow when I feel like it.”

But really, there are things I can do now to fix this day, to improve it. I can start right now.

Gameify it

you’re going to laugh but that’s ok. here’s what i do. I cut up some small slips of paper. I write one task on each. Some tasks need more than one 25-minute session (for me, that’s my emails). And the slips of paper change based on the day… I decide on 12 bits of paper (representing 6 hrs). I put them in an envelope. I set the online timer to 25 minutes. I pull out one of the pieces of paper. I do that thing. When the timer goes off, i pull out a new piece of paper, and I do that thing for 25 minutes.

[most days when I wake up feeling in between, I decide i’m going to jumpstart my sober success. I make some tasks, and then I do them one by one UNTIL I FEEL BETTER. My pieces of paper might say: read blog, listen to audio, reach out, journal, take a bath, cry, go to bed, read, write a letter from my future-self to my today-self.]

Even if i don’t feel like it, using pieces of paper with a timer makes it into a game. I like the randomness of the tasks.  I like the fact that there’s no right order. I really like the fact that the task will end in 25 minutes and then I can do something else.

slips paper

Some days I do 12 pieces of paper (6 hrs), some days I only do 3 hrs. Some days I don’t need this at all. You can’t put “eat lunch” on the list, because it might not come up until 5 pm.  But if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you can put: laundry and fold clothes, clean, read, food prep, go outside, clean, laundry, read, sober podcasts while exercising, watch bad tv.” And if you’re at the office, you can put “professional reading, email inbox, planning for future strategies, return phone calls, write draft of report, sober podcast while filing.”

really large realization: when i draw the ‘clean’ piece, i go into the first room and just start tidying everything, then i go to the next room and start in one corner and work my way out. What’s AMAZING to me is that i don’t resent doing it, i never think “this is my husband’s stuff” or “I should save some of this for him to do when he gets home.” Something about the timer and the finiteness is enough for me to just barrel through it, seeing how much i can get done before the timer goes off. It’s like i’m 9 years old. (Which really, I am.)

I guess I’m talking to myself today.

You don’t have to wait to feel like it. You can make it into a game with pieces of paper and a timer. Your brain just isn’t that smart.

Belle

I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I’m tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

28 thoughts to “My first instinct: “I’ll feel like doing it tomorrow””

  1. I love this too. Great for when my surroundings are a bit overwhelming and I can’t face starting as it’s all too big (which is often!). Thanks for the idea!!

    1. you’re right, it’s perfect for being overwhelmed. we can just begin anywhere. and make progress on a bunch of bits. that feeling of momentum is pretty great 🙂

  2. Talking to yourself is a good thing. It is part of what is keeping me sober. I guess I already kind of do the note thing – I just use post it notes….Best feeling in the world when the task is completed to toss one away!

    1. I use slips of paper only because tomorrow I’ll reuse some of the same ones again (clean, food prep, emails, job #1, go outside, read, fold laundry).

  3. You are brilliant, Belle! Not just the game idea, but how you are able to articulate so perfectly the brain chatter that can (and sometimes does) derail our efforts at sobriety. I’ve practiced hopelessness so many times when faced with difficult days and you, my friend, are hope.

    I’ve been at my lake house for the past few days with no computer, just my phone. I saved on PDF all of your first month’s blog so I’ve been able to read it. Going home today and will download the next month and the next sober podcast for when I am back up here. More support = more sobriety. 🙂 Thank you, Belle.

    Yay Day 35!!

    Love,  Renee

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S™III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    1. oh that brain chatter. shit, I still have lots of it! hopelessness is really just wolfie in action. once the booze is removed for a longer period of time, we get so much better at just ignoring the bastard.

  4. I love this post . I flounder my days at home away & this really appeals to me . I’m going to re read this everyday off work and do it !! Thanks , Happiness x

    Sent from my iThingy

  5. This! This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I am struggling with the mehs and an not getting anything done. I have been telling myself that is self care because since I am not drinking, I deserve to sit on the couch and watch Dr. Who and old Greys Anatomy for hours on end. This is okay for some days but I need a plan to start moving again. Little slips of paper and a timer is something I can definitely do!
    Hugs to you!!!

    1. I wrote it b/c I was struggling with the same thing today. I’m now on slip of paper 6: work on husband’s website, work on Job #1, emails, filing, food prep for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s dinner, emails …

  6. Wow! In my sober email to you last night I was going to write ‘I’m a procrastinator! But I put it off…great article Belle.

  7. yeah Procrastination… I bought a book about it… do you know how long it took me to start reading it! Seriously – whilst mildly funny it does piss me off a lot that I don’t get a bloody move on some days

    1. and I find that using a timer is super great for just ‘getting me going’ … like, I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes and unload the dishwasher. otherwise I’m likely to start unloading the dishwasher but then walk away and do something else and never get the sense of completing anything…

  8. Great idea! I’m going to do this over my summer break when unstructured time leaves me feeling unproductive and at loose ends!

  9. Love the “Meh” section! Reminds me what I’ve been trying to do accept that life isn’t always a bowl of cherries or a bowl of crap since I first heard it: “Strive for a Five”. Five is in the middle–not such a bad place to be. I also like to think that I’d prefer to keep my low-high balance between 3 and 8, because 1 and 2 days are down in the dump days, and 9 and 10 days are sometimes just too much excitement! (And, while most of my drinking in the past couple of years was directly tied (in my mind) to stress and anxiety, I did plenty of drinking because it was a nice sunny day or I was “celebrating” something too).

    I visualize the Strive for a Five as being in a canoe in the middle of the stream where I’m crusing a long with little effort. Get to close to one of the sides where turbulence often resides, and then it’s paddle like heck to get back to the calm middle.

    Also loved the “Gameify” section. Great idea to put routine tasks on paper then select randomly. The stuff will get done–eventually.

    You rock, Belle! And, I spend a fair amount of time dreaming and fantasizing about my cafe, too!

  10. I love the gameify it idea! I’m going to try it tomorrow! My office is in my home so this will help a lot I think!

  11. I am definitly going to use your paper idea on my “I’m going to do 28 hours worth of stuff in this 24 hour day-oh never mind-I already wasted too much time-I’ll do nothing instead” days.

  12. Smart idea, uses simple methods of getting stuff done–those are the best methods. There’s a tumblr about tidying up your habitat and in that she recommends doing 20 mins of work then reward for ten mins. Or she’ll do a 45/15 for a bigger job like the yard. But yeah, timers and paper jobs is a great idea. May I share it ?~!

  13. YES!!! SOme of my worst stuff is the “I’m paralyzed by indecision” stuff. I’ll need a jar of these slippy slips right by my bed. And one in the kitchen too….

    1. slippy slips! i did 16 slips today (8 hrs) including two that said ‘read’ and one that said ‘taxes’ (word!). and one said make cookie dough…

  14. I do exactly the same when I have the full house to clean and don’t feel like it. I put each of the rooms on a slip of paper and put the slips of paper into a hat. As soon as I draw out my room I blitz it and then draw another one. I even do it with my son’s tasks : spellings, piano, homework, etc. and he seems to get more done that way too. Glad to hear that it’s just not me 🙂

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