Time management in recovery. A man siting on a bench with a cup of coffee - Treasure Coast Recovery

Time Management in Recovery

A Life Free From Substance Abuse

If you’re fairly new to recovery, chances are you’ve got more time on your hands than you used to when you were in active addiction. More than likely, you used to spend a good amount of time drinking or drugging and then contending with the hangovers afterwards. Now that you’ve committed to a life free from substance abuse, you may have a lot more free time, which at times can feel like boredom.

Keep in mind that you can begin to fill up your time with new hobbies and interests.  You can also spend more time with people you may have lost touch with.  However, if you’re not careful, you may be facing the issue of becoming too busy and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Thus, it’s important to learn how you can manage your time in recovery, as time management helps you to feel less stressed and more fulfilled.

What Is Time Management In Recovery?

Time management is when you consciously manage or control your time spent in different areas of your life with the goal of using your time efficiently, so that you do not feel stressed or get burned out. It is you using your time efficiently and learning how to balance it. Many people have a tough time managing time when it comes to work, raising children, doing chores, spending time with friends, and so on. Throughout life, managing time can become a balancing act, but an act that can help you become more productive.

What Does Poor Time Management Look Like?

Poor time management will look different from one person to the next, but typically, it can lead to the following:

  • Chances are you’ve been pressed for time before and experienced stress as a result. Poor time management can lead to extra stress in your life and chronic stress can lead to illness.
  • Negative emotions. When you’re stressed, you may experience anxiety, irritability, anger, depression, and so on. When you’re pressed for time, you may feel like you are out of control. You’ve got too many things on your plate and you feel overwhelmed.
  • Chronic stress can certainly lead to burnout. This is when you’ve experienced a prolonged period of stress and become emotionally and/or physically ill. You’re tapped out.

How to Contend With Boredom in Recovery

When you stop drinking, you may contend with some boredom. This is fairly common for those in early recovery and it’s important to learn how to overcome this boredom, as it could become a trigger for relapse. If you’re bored, you’re probably feeling unfulfilled and perhaps a little sad. In fact, you may entertain thoughts of just how exciting and fun drinking or drugging was, although if you think about it long enough, you should remember how awful active addiction really was.

Here are several ways you can contend with boredom and manage your time in recovery:

  • Create a “to-do” list. Chances are you’ve got some things that need to be done and things that you’ve been wanting to do. Create a list of those things and begin working on accomplishing them. Place that list in a spot you can see daily. As you cross your tasks off one by one, you’ll begin feeling more accomplished and productive. You’ll also feel less bored.
  • Set some short and long-term goals. Have you put some goals on the shelf over the years? Are there certain things you want to accomplish within a year? Five years? Go ahead and write some short and long-term goals down and create an action plan to accomplish them. Maybe you want to go back to school and get that degree or pursue that career you’ve been putting off. Or maybe you want to increase your self-esteem or get involved in the community.  It’s proven that those who write out their goals are much more likely to accomplish them.
  • Set boundaries. If you’re too busy, you may have to learn how to set some boundaries with others.  Learn to just say, “no” and keep it moving. Only do what you are comfortable with time-wise.  It’s alright to pass up on things you don’t really want to do.
  • Rest sometimes. As you work toward time management, remember to take some time to rest. Maybe you can sit out on your back porch or in nature and just take in the beauty of silence. Taking a few minutes a day to sit in silence can do you a lot of good, as it allows you to get grounded and refreshed.
  • Make a “not-to-do” list. Cut out the time-wasters in your life. Make a list of things you’re doing that you don’t necessarily need to do and stop doing them or cut back your time on them. For example, if you spend an hour or two on Facebook each day, cut that time down considerably, as that will give you 7 or more hours each week to focus on other things.

Learning how to manage time in recovery is possible. You may have to tweak a few areas here and there in order to find balance, but remember that’s it’s about progress; not perfection. If you’re really struggling with time constraints and stress, ask a trusted friend, mentor, counselor, or coach for some assistance.  As you progress in your recovery, it should become easier for you to manage your time and create the kind of life you’ve been longing for.

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