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Time Management for Recovery

Chapter 1 Time Management for Recovery

Section 3:SEA's Tools for Recovery Lifestyle 
Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous -

The SEA's Program of Recovery
By James J. Messina, Ph.D.

What is time management for recovery?

Time management for a recovery lifestyle is:

  • Setting priorities so that healthy activities are scheduled as daily routine.
  • Not allowing the excuse that there isn't enough time to do what is needed to achieve recovery.
  • Creating a daily schedule or routine that can be followed as near as possible on vacations, business trips, weekends, or in times of crisis.
  • Managing all of the time stealers that eat up precious time in trivial activity, i.e., reading newspapers and magazines to excess, watching TV, gossip or small talk.
  • Creating an atmosphere in which there is a sense of order, routine, and purpose yet remaining flexible enough to allow for life's changing pattern.
  • Analyzing the expenditure of time in your life. Minimize or eliminate unproductive time; maximize or add productive, balanced activities.
  • Rewarding of self for sticking to a healthy, balanced schedule.
  • The inclusion of time in a weekly schedule for social support, exercise, balanced meals, stress‑control activities, adequate sleep, constructive labor, recreation, leisure, and relaxation.
  • Organizing your life to ensure all human needs for a balanced life are met, leaving nothing to chance.
  • Recognizing the need for being single‑minded, determined, and committed to personal growth, health, and high self‑esteem.

Examples of recovery lifestyle activities to be scheduled into a time management program include:

  • Three balanced meals a day with a minimum of fifteen minutes allotted for breakfast and lunch, and thirty minutes for dinner.
  • Twenty consecutive minutes of full body aerobic exercise each day.
  • Fifteen minutes of stress reduction or relaxation activities every day.
  • Six to eight hours of full, complete, uninterrupted sleep.
  • Two hours of the SEA's or 12 Step social‑support activities each week.
  • Thirty to forty hours of productive work time at home and/or on the job.
  • Time for personal hygiene and any specific health regimen requirements, e.g., in‑home testing of body fluids, blood pressure, physical or inhalation therapy, and/or twelve‑step program meetings/activities.
  • Yearly, quarterly, and monthly breaks for vacation.
  • A yearly physical check‑up with your family physician.

What are the benefits of a time management approach to achieving recovery?

By creating a consistent time management approach to achieving recovery you can:

  • Gain the certainty that each component of a recovered, balanced life is realized.
  • Eliminate the time used in making daily choices.
  • Make recovered lifestyle activities become healthy habits of choice.
  • Keep the focus of your life on a healthy approach to living.
  • Eliminate the excuse that there is no time for the activities necessary to achieve a recovered lifestyle.
  • Reap the benefits to your health and self‑esteem of an improved self‑image, clear thinking and increased energy.
  • Exercise self‑control in such a way that it becomes a conscious, self‑enhancing habit.
  • Achieve your recovered lifestyle needs on a daily basis, including vacations, business trips, emergency or crisis events, weekends, etc.

The Excuses and Rational Alternatives for Not Wanting to Manage One's Time


Read the following list of excuses each countered by a rational approach to a recovered lifestyle:



I don't have time to manage my time.

Rational Approach

Listen to what you are saying. The very reason for time management is the current lack of time in your life. Time management enables you to schedule activities you have to do and those you would like to do. This balances all facets of your life.



I don't have time for all these new activities like journal responding, exercise, three meals a day, etc.

Rational Approach

There are hidden time stealers in your day that can be eliminated or controlled. This will free up time for new activities. Time management monitors and controls time stealers to your advantage. 



My work schedule is so haphazard and uncontrollable. I never know where I will be or when I'll be there.

Rational Approach

Certain jobs have unusual time constraints, but, by auditing such jobs over a period of four weeks, you will discover patterns in time expenditure. This will give you more control over your time and your life. 



In my busy schedule I have no time for exercise or stress–reduction activities

Rational Approach

How much time do your time stealers use? Do a time audit over four weeks and you will find extra time. It only takes 20 minutes daily to fit in the exercise. 



If I did all of the things necessary for a recovery lifestyle, I'd have no time left for myself, my spouse, my family or my friends.

Rational Approach

By creating a schedule of daily and weekly activities you can build in alone time, couple time, family time, and time with friends. 



If I did all of this stuff for recovery, I'd be run ragged.

Rational Approach

Aerobic exercise and stress–reduction activities reward the body. An increased endorphine level gives the body an elation and an energy increase, resulting in more energy and alertness. 



Time management feels so artificial and formal. I like to be spontaneous, a free spirit, always open to new possibilities.

Rational Approach

By pursuing an artificial and formal schedule that ensures a balance of one's activities in life, there is freedom. It opens the spirit to accept new and exciting challenges in the context of a recovered lifestyle. 



I hate being so formal. I like to let things happen when they will. I hate tying myself down to a schedule. Couldn't I just leave it to chance for these things to take place.

Rational Approach

To achieve a change in lifestyle, altered behavior must be built into your new schedule. It is too easy to put off what is new, different, difficult, or demanding. Build it into your schedule and you will be sure you have the time to make it happen. 



I hate the thought of doing things everyday in the same way and at the same time. It becomes stale, boring and uninviting.

Rational Approach

You are in charge. When you build a schedule for a week, you decide where you want to place your activities. Use your ingenuity and imagination to avoid boredom or burnout.

Steps to manage your time in recovery

Step 1: Complete a time audit for the next four weeks, and then answer these questions in your journal at the end of the time audit. For Time Audit and Time Scheduling forms look at Time Management of Tools for Personal Growth.


How much time do your spend each day on the following time stealers:
  • Watching TV
  • Reading newspapers excessively
  • Reading magazines excessive.
  • Idle chatter or gossip at work, on phone, or at home
  • Opening and sorting mail
  • Returning telephone calls
  • Lengthy telephone calls
  • Meetings of committees at work or in the community
  • Paying bills compulsively
  • Daydreaming 
  • Fretting over personal problems
  • Caught in slow commuter traffic in your car or on a bus
  • Planning how to change things (paralysis of analysis)
  • Waiting in long lines (in car or on foot)
  • Taking naps excessively
  • Eating snacks between meals
  • Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, or pipes)
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages at home, bar, or lounge
  • Shopping for unnecessary  items
  • Wagering money (card games, race track, gambling casino, football pools, etc.).


Which of the following Time Enhancers have you tried in the last four weeks.
  • Listen to radio and TV news shows to keep up on the latest news; this should enable you to skim through newspapers and magazines
  • Limit recreational TV watching to one hour a day
  • Limit all casual, idle, or gossip chatter to five minutes
  • Open and sort through mail as soon as it arrives at your desk or home; handle each piece only once.
  • Using the automatic dialing and redial telephone to speed up making and returning phone recalls.
  • Use a timer to help you limit phone calls to less than five minutes
  • Hold as few meetings as possible; use an agenda and stick to it; limit the time to no more than one hour for each meeting
  • Pay each bill on the day it arrives in the mail, keeping the entries in your checkbook accurate and up to date
  • Use daydreaming as a form of stress release or relaxation, and limit it to a total of fifteen minutes per day
  • Get professional help for personal problems if you find thinking about them occupies a lot of your free time
  • Use a recorder with ear phones to listen to motivational tapes, relaxation tapes, or soft relaxing music when in traffic or on a commuter bus, train, plane, etc.
  • Use a daily schedule book or date minder to create a log of scheduled activities to help you review your success at managing your time
  • Bring books and mail to read or a Music to listen to when you have appointments where you know you will be waiting for a length of time
  • Eliminate naps and extend your nightly sleep time or increase your daily exercise schedule to increase your energy level
  • Eliminate snacking between meals; eat three balanced meals a day
  • Give up smoking (cigarettes, cigars or pipes)
  • Give up the need for a quick one at your local bar, tavern, or lounge
  • Exchange alcoholic consumption time for exercise or some other time enhancer
  • Go shopping with a list, stick to the list, and leave when you have completed your list
  • Avoid browsing shopping unless it is a planned social, couple, or family shopping activity
  • Find alternative leisure activities that require no betting of legal tender

Step 2: Once you have completed your audit and responded to the questions in your journal, you are now prepared to create a weekly schedule for your recovery lifestyle. Look in Time Management of Tools for Personal Growth for schedule making forms.