When you return home from treatment, it can feel like your life is all over the place. You’re not using drugs or alcohol anymore, so everything is different: your pastimes, your friends, the places you hang out, the conversations you have and so on. You learned in rehab how important it is to have a structured routine, but this can be difficult to do when you feel muddled.
Being organized is very important, and it has benefits beyond being more efficient. By keeping things coordinated, you can prioritize what’s most important, feel in control of your schedule and have more zest because you’re not wasting physical and mental energy worrying about what you could/should be doing. With the proper organization, you eliminate excessive worrying that can lead to stress and perhaps relapse.
As you re-enter the world as a sober individual, you must make organization a priority. This will help you take control of your routine rather than feeling that it has control over you. It will decrease the nagging thoughts of, “Where should I be right now? What should I be doing right now?” Most importantly, it will give you the positive guidance and direction you need at this point in your life.
Now is the best time to get organized. It’s spring, and most people do some sort of spring cleaning, so you’ll fit right it. Here are a few pointers to get you started. For more help, talk to your counselor or members in your AA or NA group.
Stick to a Routine
Hopefully your aftercare plan has helped you create a healthy routine. Be consistent and try to do all the major things (wake, sleep, eat, exercise, take medication) at the same time every day. This will help you settle into a comfortable routine that you can feel in control of. It’s far less overwhelming when you wake up in the morning knowing what you have to do and when.
Find a Home for Everything
One of the reasons why papers and other belongings pile up is because they have no home. After cleaning out cabinets, drawers and closets this spring, assign “homes” for your things. You can organize them any way you like, as long as the system works for you. Just make sure that each “home” is accessible, otherwise you may fall right back into the same trap.
It’s easy for things to pile up. A nice neighbor may offer you some books to read. A sibling may give you holiday decorations to go through. Make it a priority to do a quick sweep once every three or six months. If you haven’t used the item in this timeframe, you probably won’t. Also go through closets and shoes at the end of each season.
Look for Solutions
Are you one of those people who always loses your keys? Leaves dishes in the drying rack? Look harder to find the source of the problem. Maybe you have nowhere to hang your keys or the dishes are on high shelves. It may help to hang a hook for your keys right next to the door or rearrange your cabinets. When you identify the source of the problem, you can come up with a solution.
Start an Information Center
With so much on your mind these days, it’s helpful to write things down. You can use a computer or smartphone, but sometimes it’s easiest to put pen to paper. Reminders, important dates, meeting times, phone numbers and inspirational quotes/mottos can be posted on a central information center such as bulletin board or dry erase board.
Rearrange the Home
Some recovering addicts find that it’s helpful to rearrange their living space when they return from treatment. The new scenery is refreshing and can prevent the nagging feeling of wanting to return to your old habits. Since you’ll be cleaning out things anyway, now is an excellent time to rearrange furniture and change the layout of your room with a design that is new, updated and conducive to a healthy recovery. Also use this time to open the windows, let in natural light and get rid of things that remind you of past drug or alcohol use.
Now that spring is right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to get your life organized. Being organized is something that requires a bit of work and time on your end, so set aside 15 minutes each day to go through papers and discard of clutter. This will be great practice that will get you used to setting goals and sticking to them. Not to mention, you reap all the health benefits of organization, something that you could use at this stage of your recovery.