Not sure how to stay sober during the holidays? Try the rule of thirds!
Productivity experts use the rule of thirds to encourage people to be more efficient and productive with their time. The parallel goal is to help people be more mindful in their activities so that they can fully enjoy downtime. These two goals are partners: productivity and relaxation.
When you use the rule of thirds for scheduling a weekend, it looks like this:
|7am-12pm||Exercise/Chores||Sleep in/Walk in the Park|
|12pm-5pm||Run Errands||Finish laundry/Prep for week|
|5pm-10pm||Dinner w/ friends||Dinner, Movie Night|
With modern technology, we’re tempted to do a little bit of everything, all at once. That leaves two possible outcomes. The first is that we do all of those things, but only moderately well. We might just barely be doing any of those things at all. The second is that we live in a constant state of overwhelm, unable to complete important tasks or truly enjoy downtime. We’re distracted in productive time, and guilt-ridden in down time.
Here are the rules for scheduling the weekend in blocks.
- Be productive in your productive blocks. Finish a task. Avoid distractions. Attend to the goal right in front of you.
- Be in your downtime during downtime. This is as, or more, important than your productivity blocks. Enjoy the meal in front of you, in the conversation that you’re in, with that friend of yours. Don’t squeeze in checking emails, or online shopping. Resist the urge to let your mind wander back to your To Do list. Wallow in that downtime as if it’s your job.
So how does this work with relapse prevention on a holiday? Try scheduling out the holiday.
First, break it into thirds, in whatever timeframes make sense to you. Don’t set yourself up for a marathon day of family functions. Take the first third of the day for catching up. Get a little extra sleep, or schedule in a task, like laundry. Take a walk, or check in with a sober friend.
Secondly, spend the second third of the day with family, if that’s a healthy place for you. Truly be with them. Ask them about their lives, which is easy to forget if your year has been caught up in addiction. Bonus: then you won’t have to talk about yourself as much. Plan to have a cap for your holiday events. Let your family know ahead of time that you have plans at a certain time.
Last, spend the rest of the day on you, your recovery, and your own self care. Schedule a phone call with your sponsor, or pick out a meeting (in-person or virtual) that you plan to attend. Decide what that means for you ahead of time. For some people, self care is in connection with other people, and for others it means downtime alone.
Then, look at that, the day is over. It was just another day. You’re still sober. You did it!