There’s no doubt about it, children with ADHD are often unorganized and lack time management skills. They may have trouble sequencing events or problems planning out their time. They may get distracted and forget the current task or lose track of time. They may underestimate how much time activity will take or hyperfocus, spending too much time on one task while forgetting other things that need to be completed. No matter what the reason, the following tips for time management for children can help.
Make a list of everything you do during the week. This includes sleeping, eating, going to school, completing homework, household chores, sports activities, hobbies, time spent with friends. Divide the list into two sections, those items that you have to do and those that you want to do. Start with the list of things you have to do and estimate how much of your day or week these tasks take. You can then determine how much time you have left to do the things you want to do.
Create a schedule. Now that you have a list of everything you need to do and how much time you think it will take you, create a weekly schedule. Write down from the time you get up until the time you go to bed and fill in when you are in school, what time you do your homework, when you do your chores and when you have set activities such as baseball practice, music lessons, dance lessons or martial arts training. Having a written schedule should help you see when you have time to hang out with friends, spend time online or reading a book.
Pay attention to how often you procrastinate. Many people with ADHD have a difficult time with time management because they frequently procrastinate. This is when you put off doing something until later, even though you can or should do it now. For example, you might not feel like doing your homework right now, so you watch TV for a little while, you play around online, checking your email or Facebook, you do practically anything except your homework. The problem is, the things you do are usually wasting time, things to fill in a few minutes in order to avoid homework. Except the homework still has to be done and all you did was take away from time you could have spent doing something you really enjoy.
Make a “to-do” list each day. If you are like many people with ADHD, you often forget what it is you wanted to accomplish. It isn’t that it isn’t important or that you don’t want to do it, you just forget. But that means you will either get into trouble for not getting it done or you will have to scramble, trying to get it done quickly once you remember. Instead, keep a to-do list somewhere you will see it, like on the refrigerator or on your bedroom mirror. 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. Cross it out once you are done.
Making bored activities fun. Instead of procrastinating and putting off doing tasks, find ways to make them fun. For example, if your household chores include cleaning the kitchen after dinner, listen to your favorite music on your ipod and dance and sing as you wash the dishes and sweep the floor. Or try to clean up quicker than you did yesterday (while not breaking any dishes and doing a good job). The less you complain and the more you make chores fun, the quicker you will get them done and the less you will procrastinate.
More information on time management and organization:
“Teaching Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices,” 2004, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.