Running Late is a Recovery Red Flag: Tips To Be On Time

When you are in recovery from alcohol or drugs you probably have a packed schedule that may include a full-time job, 12-Step meetings, therapy appointments, plus other commitments. You also have to manage unexpected emotional shifts that arise. With all these elements at play, it’s not always easy to get where you need to be in a timely manner. However, always running late is a habit you’ll want to break.

Being Late Sends the Wrong Message

You are in complete control of being on time and can choose to create patterns that allow you to get where you need to be without chaos. It’s important to remember, you are worth it and important enough to prioritize – and so are all the things you want in life, from functional and healthy friendships to being successful at work and in recovery.

Here’s how you can get started making changes in your life that allow you to be on time:

  • Make a plan. Before you go to bed at night, look at where you need to be and what you need to do the following day. Figure out how long it will take you to get wherever you’re going and figure out what time you need to leave. Then, determine how long it will take you to get ready and get your things together for the day and double that time to make sure you can accommodate anything unexpected. Do what you can the night before – like setting out clothes, making breakfast or a to-go lunch, and packing your bag – to make things as easy as possible.
  • Give yourself extra time. If you think it will take you 30 minutes to get ready, give yourself an hour. If you think it will take 20 minutes to get where you are going, leave with 30 minutes to spare. If you end up being early, great! This sends the message to the people you are meeting that they are important to you and you are there for them, and it decreases your stress level at the same time.
  • Bring a time filler. If you are finding that you are having a hard time accomplishing all you want to do and that is contributing to your lateness, make sure you always have something with you that needs to be done. When you are early, you can read a book, journal for therapy, or complete homework or work, so you are continually making progress on things you want to do.
  • Cut the unimportant things. It may be that your schedule is unrealistic or overly packed so you are unable to finish one thing before it is time to begin the next thing on your schedule. If you have activities scheduled too tightly, change the time so they no longer conflict. If you are scheduling an hour-long workout before work and find that you are routinely late, cut the workout to 30 minutes or plan your workouts for after work instead. If you simply have too many commitments, drop the ones that are the least important to give yourself time and space to show up for your top priorities, especially those commitments that are recovery-related.
  • Set yourself up for success.  Find your “running late” patterns. Take a look at your schedule and note the appointments or meetings where you tend to be late. For example, do you find that you are late for work in the morning on a regular basis? Are you having a hard time getting from one appointment to the next? Do you forget certain appointments routinely? Use the resources available to you to help you manage these issues, like setting alarms throughout the day to remind you when it’s time to leave and backup alarms as well. Create to-do lists and check them frequently. There are a number of time management apps and tools that are available to help you organize your life and get where you need to be on time.

When you get organized about your life and work on being on time for the things you want to do, you will find you have more time to accomplish the things that need to get done in general. Additionally, actively managing your time can help to decrease stress and limit negative interactions with others that are based on others’ perceptions of your lateness, which can remove triggers for relapse. The best way to get started is to pick one thing on the above list and implement it to the best of your ability.

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