Time Management and Tobacco Reduction: Tips to Get Started

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What is Time Management?

In our first tobacco workshop of the year, clients discussed the idea of looking at time management in two different ways:

  1. Having too many tasks, appointments, etc. and feeling as if there isn’t enough time to get them all done.
  2. Having too much free time and not knowing how to fill it.

Both of these situations can be overwhelming, and both can lead to an increase in feelings of stress, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness/depression. Which can result in an increased want or need to use tobacco products. Stress, in particular, is a commonly cited barrier for people attempting to quit their tobacco use, and often plays a role in slips and relapses during quit attempts. 

So how can one start to utilize time management skills in their daily life? Something I noticed when exploring ideas for this month’s blog is that most articles and blog posts offering time management tips revolve primarily around productivity and efficiency in the workplace. While productivity-based skills can be incredibly useful in many settings, they often don’t prioritize an individual’s overall wellbeing. The following list includes my top time management tips.

  • Start Small. It’s important to remember not to overwhelm yourself with major changes, even when they may benefit you in the long run. Scheduling every minute of every day is unnecessary and likely to increase negative feelings if you’re unable to meet those detailed time frames. Start with marking down important appointments and deadlines, and see what else would be helpful from there. 
  • Use a Planner or Calendar. While it seems obvious, using a calendar or planner can help you keep track of appointments, events, and other commitments. Keeping track of these will allow you to make appointments as needed while also helping to prevent you from double or overbooking yourself. Having these things planned out will also allow you to prepare for them.
  • Become a List Maker. Using lists can be incredibly helpful when you feel like you’re just not getting things done that you need to. Not only can they serve as a reminder for what needs to be done today (or tomorrow, or this week, etc), crossing off tasks as you complete them will provide you with a visual of how much you’ve accomplished.
  • Break Up Your Big Tasks. Oftentimes major tasks can seem intimidating and we can end up putting them off to avoid feelings of failure and anxiety. By breaking these big tasks up into multiple smaller ones, you can gain confidence in getting through your to-do list without trying to put them off. 
    • For example: You were sick in bed for a week and missed multiple appointments with your doctor, your case manager, your tobacco treatment specialist, your therapist, and a class. Rather than trying to reschedule everything in one sitting, space the calls (and the appointments) out with breaks in between. 
  • Prioritize! Though time management skills can certainly be helpful, they can’t change the fact that we only have 24 hours in the day and seven days in the week. Take time to determine which tasks are the most important, and which one(s) can wait until you have more time available.
  • Make Time for Yourself. While making it to your appointments and other commitments is important, remember that it’s equally important to set aside time for yourself to do things you enjoy whether that’s reading, taking walks, spending time with loved ones, or watching movies. 
  • It’s Okay to Say No Way. These tips and skills are supposed to help reduce stress, anxiety, and frustration in your daily life. Recognize that it’s okay to let people know when you have enough on your plate for that week and need to schedule for a better time in the future. 
  • Celebrate! With any change in your life, it’s important to remember to recognize your accomplishments even if they seem small. Made it on time to an appointment you’d missed and rescheduled a few times? Have a small treat! Completed a major task that’s been looming over your head for weeks? Give yourself a night where you can focus on relaxing and doing activities you enjoy.

As you begin to plan ways to put some of these tips to the test, remember that different things work for different people. Maybe most of these will work for you, or maybe only one will. Don’t be afraid to adapt these tips to benefit YOU and your time management needs. Ultimately, the goal is to find ways to help manage feelings of stress, anxiety, frustration, depression, and boredom that might lead to an increase in your tobacco use. 

Interested in finding out more about Unified’s Tobacco Reduction services? Contact your office’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist:

Detroit: 
Amber Jager – (313) 446-9800 
ajager@miunified.org

Ypsilanti/Jackson: 
Caitlyn Clock – (734) 961-1077
cclock@miunified.org

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