Time Management for Employees in Recovery

Drug test Kits, Saliva Drug TestMost persons in recovery can remember the cyclical nature of addiction and how most of their time was spent thinking about the drug, planning how to buy the drug, actively taking the drug, recuperating from the high and hiding all this activity from family, friends, and employers. In many cases, drug-related behavior superseded such other necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. Of course by foregoing sleep the person was unable to get up in time for work or, if they did make it to their desk, likely did not have a very productive day.

While in recovery, the person was presented with suggestions for health activities that could substitute for drug-related behavior. However, gaps in time represent a significant trigger for slips and/or full relapse. Long-term recovery will be dependent on learning how to effectively manage time in a healthy and productive manner.

Fortunately, time management skills can be learned. The following are some suggestions for to help employers work with persons in recovery to enhance their time management skills:

  • Organization is critical to effective time management. Provide your employee with a daily planner or calendar to record important tasks (“to-do” list) and when each is to be performed. This will help them budget their time and prioritse tasks. Ensure that tasks are well ordered and follow one another in quick succession so that there is not too much of a time gap.
  • Based on stated priorities, help the employee create small, achievable goals and have them record the date to achieve them in their planner or calendar. Goals will help the employee remain focused on the future rather than wallowing in the past. Set goals that will lead to early success since s/he will then be motivated to stick with the plan.
  • Keep up the momentum. Once the employee has reached certain goals, create new ones that set the bar a bit higher.

Beware Landmines

Procrastination is probably the biggest landmine to avoid when helping employees build successful time management skills. Some of the root causes of procrastination include:

  • Unpleasant tasks. Train employees that when they are faced with unpleasant tasks, it is best to accomplish them first so they can get them out of the way and move on to more pleasant duties.
  • Overwhelming responsibilities. As noted, try not to stack too many duties onto the desk of employees in recovery since they may well buckle under the weight. . Try to limit their “to-do” list to between 3 and 5 items so that the employee does not become overwhelmed since stress is a precursor to relapse.  The best strategy is to break the task down into smaller manageable parts and check off each task as it is completed for a sense of accomplishment.
  • Ambiguous goals. Ensure that the goals you set for employees are clearly defined. Most persons in recovery need structure. Vague or ambiguous goals only serve to confuse and can stymy productivity. For example, rather than, Employee will make 10 calls today for the new membership program, the goal can be stated: Employee will make 10 sales calls today on behalf of our new membership program trying to sign on at least 2 people.
  • Overcommitting your time. This may derive from the employee’s desire to please co-workers and become accepted.  However, cramming their schedule with too many tasks will lead to burn and stress. Help the employee learn to respect their boundaries and commit only the time they can after their workload is complete. Train the employee in how to say “no” while maintaining the respect of colleagues. 
  • Fear of failure. This can be a significant issue for those in recovery who may little success behind them. Fear of failure arises from lack of self-confidence. The best strategy is to set small, attainable goals as this builds self-confidence. You can then slowly introduce more challenging tasks.

Fear is often the root cause of procrastination and is typically based on false assumptions. Effective time management skills will provide the person in recovery with a highly effective tool for building self-confidence and making lasting and positive changes in all areas of their lives.

Aside from training, effective drug prevention program in the workplace also involves periodic testing of employees to ensure a substance fee environment. CMM technology offers some of the best drug and alcohol testing equipment on the market today such as Lion breathalyser tests and Oraline drug tests. We have experts available 24/7 to answer your questions and order testing equipment. We invite you to contact us today at (+61) 1300 79 70 30 to learn more about keeping a drug-free workplace and helping those with an alcohol problem obtain needed assistance.


Baer, J.S., Kivlahan, D.R. Integrating Skills Training and Motivational Therapies: Implications for the Treatment of Substance Dependence. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 1999 – Elsevier

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