“It’s a programme of action” my first sponsor would always say. He gave me a list of suggestions to follow to help me in my early recovery journey. I found that creating routines and building consistent habits was incredibly helpful in the early days to build a strong foundation of recovery.

I’ll start by saying everyone’s recovery programme will be different, I’ve found it’s best to speak to your sponsor and focus on what you’re doing, rather than look at what anyone else’s programme looks like. It can be good to chat to other fellows and find out what works for them, to see if you’re able to learn from things which they find useful, but in the early days I found it easier to just take the direct guidance from my sponsor and build slowly over time from there.

He told me to get to lots of meetings, write a gratitude list, phone him every day, call other fellows, pray, meditate, read some literature as well as do any written step work or inventory as we progressed through the steps. A few years later, my programme looks slightly different , but those were the suggestions I was following when I was building my foundation in recovery.

I’ll be honest, I found it all quite overwhelming, especially as I still very much felt mad most days. What I found helped, was building a strong routine really helped me embed essential recovery basics into my daily life.

You might not be someone who’s used to routine, or you might already have a busy life with work or family. You might be surrounded by chaos, you’ll have to consider all of this when you’re coming into recovery and make sure you’re putting your recovery first.

I was always a morning person. I also knew I was someone who wasn’t great in the evenings, I lost all of my energy after dinner and so I had to build my recovery routine around what worked for me.

With this in mind, I found that going to early morning meetings before work was perfect for me. It gave me a reason to get up early and felt like a mini-mission to start the day. I found a series of meetings on weekdays before work and made sure I had the bus-routes memorised. This was the foundation of my routine. I’d wake up, pray and meditate and leave the house for a meeting.

Late morning, I’d find a small gap in work to write a gratitude list and read the day’s daily reflection. I’d call fellows and my sponsor after work when I got home and write inventory before I went to sleep. It was a simple routine, but it worked for me.

I think it worked partly because I’d built a routine around my own habits, but also partly because I planned my routine around those suggestions and there was a time of day where I was able to work all of those into my day.

This won’t work for everyone. Some people prefer evening meetings, and your work situation might be very different to mine. Whatever your situation, what I did find helpful was making a plan for the day. The plan was essential as I know myself too well, and knew that without one, I’d very easily let everything slip until the evening or just not get around to things at all. So having that intention and having those daily plans, really helped me.

It also sounds basic, but something else I found useful was a list each day. Writing out the list of those suggestions and being able to physically mark them as done each day. I am the kind of person who really responded well to having that structure and being able to work through the list gave me a sense of purpose, structure and accomplishment.

One thing I would say, is while routines are important, I’ve also found it crucial to also be flexible. Things change, things come up, life doesn’t stand still.

If you’re too rigid about your programme being tied to a certain place or routine, and that changes, you could find yourself struggling to maintain your recovery.

This has happened to me a few times, I’ve been out of work, I’ve moved cities and of course had to deal with the pandemic. All of these things (and many others throughout the years) have meant I’ve had to change up routines around life and life’s challenges to make sure I’m able to prioritise my recovery.

Hope that helps.