Although organisational skills and time management can be challenging for everyone, if you have a learning difference, you are much more likely to struggle with being organised and with managing your time. You are also more likely to have a poor sense of the passage of time. This makes it hard to keep on course and get through your to do list. For example, my perception of time is extremely skewed. I am hopeless at estimating time. To this day, I can’t distinguish between the passage of 5 minutes and the passage of 15 minutes. I’ve been known to take a 30-minute nap and then wake up and get dressed for school because I thought it was the following morning!
The transition from primary school to secondary school can be especially difficult if you have organisational issues and time management issues. It is much easier to bring the correct books to school and turn in your homework when you have one form teacher and are restricted to one classroom. In secondary school, all of a sudden your schedule becomes jammed packed with different lessons taught by different teachers in different classrooms on different days.
Below are some tips that may help you to improve your organisational and time management skills.
Organisation and Time Management Tips
Tip: Set TASKS to music!
Every morning, I stay on task because I synchronize my morning routine to music. I have a 30-minute play list that I listen to every morning. For example, when I hear Oasis’ Wonderwall, I know I should be brushing my teeth. The different songs act as time markers that signal when I should be getting dressed, having breakfast and walking out the door. The trick is to choose music you love and to play the same playlist every day.
TIP: Create a schedule
Although initially time consuming, it is worth investing in creating a detailed schedule of all your classes, activities and homework assignments. Start from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed. Fill in the time you are in school (including, your individual classes), the time you do your homework and when you have set activities (such as music lessons, after school clubs or a sports event). When listing homework assignments, try to estimate how long each task will take. Having a detailed schedule will let you see how you spend your time and will help you determine when you have time to socialize, spend time online or read a book.
TIP: Create to-do lists and checklists
The easiest way to get tasks accomplished is to to create a to-do list or checklist. This helps to break down your tasks into manageable chunks or steps. As you think of something that needs to be done, add it to the list. Make a habit of referring to your list every day and getting at least one thing on the list accomplished. Don't forget to cross off the task off once you have done it.
TIP: SET REMINDERS ON YOUR MOBILE
If you have trouble organizing yourself, setting up reminders on your mobile phone can be a lifesaver. I find that the iPhone calendar is too basic. Instead, I use productivity and task apps that allow for more customization. Although very much an individual choice, I recommend exploring Evernote, Todoist, Any.do, Wunderlist and Remember-the-Milk.
TIP: SET TIMERS TO KEEP TRACK OF TIME
If you have trouble estimating the passage of time, set a timer. I use an app called 30/30. The app allows you to set up lists of tasks and the length of time for each task. As soon as you start the timer, it will tell you when to move on to the next task.
TIP: work on improving your estimate of time
In order to get a better and more realistic sense of how long tasks take, write down time estimates and then compare them to the actual time it took to complete the task. The more you record and correct how long it took to actually complete the task, the better you will become in narrowing the gap between estimated and actual time.
TIP: establish and stick to a regular routine
If you struggle to manage your time, establishing and sticking to a regular routine can significantly help. For example, set a particular time each day for doing homework. Don’t allow yourself to watch television or post on social media until you have completed your homework.
TIP: start with the tough tasks first
Force yourself to do the hardest, longest or least-liked activity first so that you don’t have a sense of dread looming over you and don’t find yourself procrastinating. Once you have completed the task, the sense of satisfaction will make it much easier to move on to the other tasks because they will seem less daunting or more enjoyable.
TIP: harness your prime time
Prime time is that time during the day when you are most likely to be alert, enthusiastic and creative. Find out when your prime time is and use that time of day for your hardest jobs. Each of our energy level’s are different. Some people are morning people whereas others are evening people. When you have a choice, plan to use your prime times for important tasks requiring the most attention and effort, saving easier tasks for when you have less energy.
TIP: fight Procrastination
When it comes to time management, procrastination is your biggest enemy. Don’t put off doing something until later, even though you can or should do it now. Instead of procrastinating and putting off doing tasks, find ways to make them fun or to reward yourself for completing them.