Stay Organized & Manage Your Time
Know how to organize your time
If you are dyslexic, you most likely already know that it takes you longer and you may have to work harder than non-dyslexics to accomplish tasks that require reading and writing, in particular. And, therefore, it is very important that you know how to organize your time.
Many times students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, have difficulty with executive functioning, which is the ability to solve problems and bring the many pieces of a task to fruition or completion. Executive functioning involves being able to plan a task, change gears in the middle if need be, re-group, stay motivated, persevere, and complete the task.
Executive functioning is important so that you can:
- Understand the problem at hand and solve it in an efficient manner.
- Develop goals and strategies.
- Analyze whether a strategy is working.
- Evaluate the course of action.
- Take corrective action when confronted with a flaw in your strategy.
- See the problem from start to finish.
- Conduct an executive analysis of your approach to the problem.
Your executive functioning ability affects your organizational and time management skills. It is important to analyze your work space and habits to enhance your effectiveness when studying or completing a project for work.
Using the information and suggestions below about organization and time management consistently will help reduce your frustration and anxiety and increase your academic success.
Think about your current strategies for studying & organization? It’s a good idea before the semester begins to analyze your strategies. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are
- What works for me?
- What needs to change?
- What distracts me?
By analyzing your current strategies for studying & organization you will be able to know what time of day you are most productive or at your best. Do you usually refer to yourself as a “morning person” or a “night owl”? What time of the day do you feel the least distracted, the most rested?
Once you begin to understand the environment in which you are at your best (i.e., most productive) you should design a conducive study space. This may include:
Time of day
- Type of environment (e.g., quiet – library or background noise – a coffee shop)
- Do you prefer sitting at a desk or in a comfy chair?
When you know what kind of study space works best for you this is when you should study or tackle difficult tasks. A good way to start is by making an appointment with yourself in your planner just like you would for any other important appointment (e.g., doctor, dentist, etc.). And then, importantly — don’t break your date! The benefits of using a dayplanner or to-do lists will help you
Keep track of tasks, projects and their deadlines, and will always be beneficial when trying to stay organized.
Decide what task(s) (e.g., test, projects, or assignments) you will tackle in that time frame.
At the start of the semester you may feel that you will be able to manage your time for both school and social activities; however this can change quickly. For example, it may take you longer to study for a test or complete a project which can be frustrating if it seems that your friends are able to get their studies done and still make time for a social life.
Time management can be challenging at the college level but there is a step-by-step approach if incorporated with the information from the tips on organization that will be extremely helpful.
Each day or week set aside time to figure out what needs to be accomplished
Then using your planner/to-do lists plan how you will meet your goals
Make sure you have time for studying which may involve breaking a task into smaller pieces versus completing the task in one block of time (i.e., cramming). This type of studying has been found to usually be ineffective.
For example, a reminder to start a project/paper early, doing research for resources, creating an outline, writing smaller sections rather than an entire paper/project, reviewing work, etc. Using your dayplanner can determine a certain timeline for getting each step done before the due date.
Learn to say ‘no.’ This may involve you dealing with interruptions (e.g., phone calls, going to the movies, etc.) in order for you to stay on task.
Remember to reward yourself when you finish a piece (e.g., call a friend, take a walk, watch a TV show, etc.).
Helpful Tips for studying:
- Get prepared before you begin.
- If the project is large, break it into steps and draft a schedule in your planner. Stick to the schedule, but remember good executive functioning skills allow you to re-group.
- Be sure you are clear about what you need to study. Clarify with your instructor if need be before you leave class. Read all directions.
- Have a planner where you keep assignments and syllabi.
- Color code due dates
- Identify a time each day when you will study.
- Be sure you have all your materials.
- Identify a goal for yourself within a study session. In other words depending on the type of task (e.g., reading a chapter in a textbook and reviewing your class notes or writing an outline for a paper, etc.) you should design realistic and achievable goals instead of trying to get it all done in an hour.
- Prioritize your study session. You may want to tackle a quick easy assignment first OR you may need to work on the tougher one and save the one that you know will be a snap for last. You know yourself best! Design your study session to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
- Know when you need to take a short break. Remember to choose activities for these breaks that don’t become temptations for a “long” break (i.e., walk around the block or get something to drink vs. watching a movie or playing an addicting video game.)
- Allow time to check your work! When you complete a task put it in a designated spot – your binder for class the next day, a folder on your desktop where you will find it tomorrow, etc.
- Don’t berate yourself if, for example, you miscalculated the amount of time it took you to complete a task. Just use what you’ve learned and re-group – set a new goal for your next session. Adjust your overall plan. This is what a good problem-solver does. We are always going back, analyzing the situation, and coming up with the next steps. Last, congratulate yourself for the work you’ve done! Now, you can treat yourself to that favorite show, game of hoops, bike ride, etc.!