For people in recovery from mental illness, daily planning is an important aspect of the establishment of a routine. As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Social workers and mental health educators necessarily emphasize this tool of life management. Planning is an essential tool of organization. The simple act of daily planning is an imperative part of the creation of a routine.
Daily planning is one of the most challenging things for someone in the early stages of mental health recovery to do. Often someone in the throes of major depression experiences a strong inertia to perform any tasks that might feel overwhelming: I’m just too tired or I’m incapable anyway so why make the effort. Planning can feel this way so start with small tasks and slowly build on them over time is key. This task may he hard in the beginnings of recovery from mental illness.
In planning our daily lives, we can look at this task as an improvement project. We can be our very own project managers. Today we have some great tools like smartphones and tablets at our disposal. There are fantastic apps that we can use to build a list of tasks that we want to accomplish each and every day. These apps let us create alarms and reminders and keep us focused on the project that is self improvement.
Once you find an app that you like, start small and praise yourself often. Add tasks such as showing, brushing your teeth, shaving, and taking your medicine. Just start out with these small things and after you accomplish them, check them off. When you do this, your eyes and brain process that you have just completed something so take no small amount of satisfaction in that. Eventually your brain will be retrained to enjoy these tasks and you may find that you no longer need them as part of your daily plan because they become automatic tasks. They become automatic because they are now associated with feelings of success and satisfaction.
When you are ready for more complex planning, remember to take steps incrementally and not leaps. Gradually increase the complexity of the tasks you want to accomplish so as not to overwhelm or produce anxiety. Also remember to praise yourself at each and every juncture because you are worthwhile. Soon you may even really grow to enjoy this process. You may find yourself asking with eager anticipation, What am I going to do today?