Though there are several common themes or traits, ADHD manifests itself differently in every person. One fairly regular theme is the inability to remember when work is due. To a parent, this often looks like procrastination or laziness. However, it can be better explained by a deficit in the underlying executive functioning skills—time management and working memory.
Time management includes one’s ability to feel the passing of time and feel the pressure of impending deadlines. If you have poor time management, you may not feel any urgency to get things done because the future always feels far away. Working memory allows people to store things in their heads and reorder those things. If you have a poor working memory, you may think that you can remember all of your homework, but instead, those items are not actually stored in your head, which is why writing things down is so crucial.
Practical Tips to Help Executive Functioning
Combined together, poor time management and poor working memory will lead students to procrastinate, miss deadlines, and generally have a low awareness of what they need to get done.
There’s no silver bullet, or single solution, to solve these issues. However, we use several tools and strategies to combat these deficits.
Externalize time by adding more clocks to your room and to your house.
Set daily reminders on your phone at certain times (like 5 pm or 7:30 pm) as a reminder to check your task list.
Use calendar reminders in Google Calendar or Outlook.
Find a planner or to-do list that works for you (there are many different types out there). You could try a hand-written one, sticky notes, index cards, a typed one, a planner book, or many other options.
Try a task-keeping app, like AnyList.
Print several copies of your to-do list and place them in annoyingly obvious areas, like your bathroom mirror or door handle. Find places that you cannot avoid looking at.
Write your most important to-dos on an index card and tape it to the back of your phone.
Write an email to yourself with reminders about your open tasks.
Break down bigger or more complex projects into smaller, discrete tasks. Write those tasks on index cards. Tape those index cards to your desk.
Enlist a friend, tutor, or coach to help keep you accountable for daily and weekly tasks. Ask them to text you reminders of things to work on.
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