When people first enter recovery, they will suddenly have a great deal of time on their hands. In the midst of their addiction, it is likely that many hours of their day was spent either using or getting over the effects of their substance abuse. When they first become sober, it can feel like they have more time than they know what to do with. This can lead to boredom. After people have been in recovery for a few months, they will likely have developed new interests that will fill up this spare time. They then face the opposite problem of not having enough hours in the day to do all the things they want to do. Time management in recovery can be a significant issue. Getting it wrong it could lead to a great deal of stress or even relapse.
A search using the term time management on Google produces over 200,000,000 results. This is undoubtedly a popular topic. Many people worry that they are not making the best use of their time, and they wish to rectify the situation. _Time management_ is the act or process of exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase efficiency or productivity. Put simple, it is any change that a person makes to their life that will allow them to make better use of their time.
Poor time management abilities can negatively affect a person’s life. These are some of the dangers of an inability to make good use of time:
* Poor time management skills can mean that people end up with a great deal of stress in their life. They always seem to be late getting things done, and it feels like they are juggling too many balls in the air at the same time. It is now accepted that stress is at least a contributing factor in many disease processes.
* When people manage their time poorly, they can feel overwhelmed. This can lead to symptoms of depression. It is almost impossible for people to feel in control of their life if they are unable to manage their time.
* Failing in this area of life can harm a person’s reputation. Employers may begin to view them as unreliable. This bad reputation could harm the individual’s career or even cause them to lose their job. In almost every career, mastering one’s time is essential to finding success.
* Failure to manage time effectively can lead to burnout. This is when people become mentally and physically ill because of their inability to cope with life. The individual with burnout can become completely listless and depressed.
* Those individuals who struggle with time tend to squander too much of it. They jump from one job to another. The fact that they feel overwhelmed a great deal of the time means that it takes them longer to get things done.
When people become sober they will need to develop good time management skills. Here are some of the dangers of failing to do so:
* Periods of boredom can be highly dangerous for people in recovery.
* The first few years of recovery are full of challenges that the individual will need to overcome. There are sure to be stressful times, so the individual is not going to want to add to this with poor time-management skills. Learning how to manage time effectively will greatly increase comfort in sobriety.
* When people become sober, they will usually have a desire to rebuild their reputation. They will want to prove to their family and to employers how they have changed their ways and can now be trusted. If the individual continues to be unreliable in recovery, it will harm their chances of finding success.
* There are many wonderful things to enjoy in life when people break away from their addiction. The individual will need to make time in their life to introduce these new additions.
* Poor time management can be a sign that the individual has not settled into recovery. If they appear to be overwhelmed all the time, it could be a sign that they are dealing with dry drunk syndrome or that they are in the midst of the relapse process. Most people will struggle with time management to some degree, but if it is a constant problem it is often a sign that something fundamental is wrong.
Boredom can be a highly dangerous emotion for people in recovery. It can act as a relapse trigger that will take the individual right back to their addiction. Those who are regularly bored may find life unsatisfying. They may then start thinking back to a time when things were more exciting. The addict might begin to romance the drink or drug, putting them back on the slippery slope to relapse. It is therefore recommended that those in early recovery manage their time effectively so that they do not have too much boredom to contend with.
Good time management is a skill that people can develop. These are a few effective strategies that may be of benefit to people in recovery:
* Using to-do lists can be highly effective when it comes to helping people sort out what they need to do. Once a task is achieved the individual can just cross it off their list. The great advantage with using this type of written documentation is that it makes everything much clearer. When people do not have things written down, they can easily forget them or waste time worrying that they will forget them. Devices such as smart phones contain electronic versions of these to-do lists.
* One effective technique for time management is to write down all the tasks that need to be done on a certain day. Some people do this using a white board, and they create their list for the following day the night before. The individual may decide to prioritize their tasks with the most important or hardest at the beginning of the list. It is important that the time frames for completion of the tasks are realistic. Otherwise, the list will be a source of added stress in the individual’s life. There can be a great sense of satisfaction when people manage to accomplish all their planned goals.
* In order to be successful at time management the individual needs to know their own limitations. They also need to be able to say no at times if they already have too much going on in their life. Taking on more than they can chew is just asking for trouble.
* Early in recovery, it is important to plan the days carefully so that there are not long breaks with nothing to do. This is a great time for trying out different activities that can later become hobbies. Planning ahead is the key to preventing boredom.
* Rest is vital, and people need to leave gaps in their day explicitly for this. Sometimes, just sitting alone for a few minutes can be wonderfully rejuvenating. If people have tasks assigned to every hour of the day, they will begin to feel like their life is just one long to-do list. This leads to feelings of drudgery and unhappiness.
* There have been thousands of books written about time management, and most contain useful advice. It is not necessary to buy a bookcase full of these texts in order to learn how to manage time effectively. Most of these books are just repeating the same information. You can learn almost all you need to know about time management strategies by searching for articles online. The great thing about this resource is that the information if free.
* Almost everyone struggles with time management occasionally, so it is probably not something that anyone ever completely masters. Recovery from addiction is all about progress and not perfection. The individual will usually get better at managing their time through a process of trial and error.
* People who are in early recovery will need to prioritize any activities that help keep them sober. Those who are in a 12 Step group will need to make time for meetings. During the first couple of years of sobriety, these activities need to take precedence over everything else.