On the last track, we discussed five key strategies for dealing with
ADD children in the classroom. Those five key strategies were 1. Thinking
ADD, 2. Crisp Behavior Management, 3. Prevention, 4. Dealing with Parents,
and 5. Experimental Thinking.
On this track, we will discuss teaching time management for ADD teens.
I have found that there are four steps to teaching an ADD teen how to
manage his or her time. These four steps are Plan, Prioritize, Schedule,
and Follow the Plan. Sound interesting? Let’s look at Greg’s
case and see how the four steps helped him.
Greg, age 15 diagnosed with ADD, was described by his teachers as “a
bright kid, but was not succeeding in school. Greg maintains his grades
just high enough to stay active on the football team.”
Greg stated, “I
know I’m smart enough to do well in my classes, but it’s
hard to motivate myself. I lose track of things. I just don’t know
when anything’s due. Mom got angry about it last week, ‘cause
I didn’t turn in the order form for the football team picture.
She reminded me the night before, but I just forgot. She had a fit! Now
she’s nagging me about some of my school projects. She thinks I’ll
forget those, too. She’s started making lists to remind me, and
it’s driving me nuts. ”
As you know, many people with ADD are right brain thinkers, which means
that they remember things better visually. Knowing that Greg’s
ADD made him a better candidate for a visual organization system, I asked
Greg if he had ever tried something he could look at for managing his
time and listing what he had to do.
Greg answered, “No, it always
just seemed like too much work. Plus, I’ve seen people with those
boring lists – it just won’t work for me. I mean, a list!
What could be more boring than that? I try and tell Mom that every time
she hands me a new list, but she doesn’t listen. I just throw them
Four Steps in Creating a Visual Time Management System
I told Greg that in four steps, he could create a visual system of his
own that might work for him. I stated, “Just because other people
use what you call boring lists, doesn’t mean you would have to.
Yours could be exciting to look at, if that’s what you want.” I
asked Greg if he would be interested in hearing the steps to better managing
his time. He nodded, and stated, “I guess, if it means Mom might
yell at me less over stupid things like the football team picture order
Step #1 - Plan
I explained to Greg that the first step in creating a visual system
for time management is to Plan. I stated, “Develop a master list
of things to do. You might want your mom’s help creating this.
Include everything you need or want to do. That includes football practices,
homework assignments, turning in permission slips at school, and even
social gatherings with friends.” Greg looked annoyed and I explained, “Don’t
worry. It won’t stay just a boring list, but you’ve got to
Step #2 - Prioritize
To do the second step, I explained to Greg that he would need to Prioritize
his list. I stated, “Try to rank things in order of importance.” Greg
asked, “How do I decide what’s most important?” I explained
that a common technique I suggest to my clients is to divide tasks into
I stated, “Make a chart for four categories.
--1. In one,
place the Urgent and Important tasks. This could include things like
homework and football practices.
--2. In the next box, put tasks that are
Important but Not Urgent. If you have a project due in two weeks, getting
material to start the project may be important, but it doesn’t
need to be done right away.
--3. The third box can be for tasks that are Urgent
but Not Important. For example, if your friend wants help installing
his car stereo and calls you about it, you could say it is urgent, because
it is happening soon, but not important, because you don’t have
to do it.”
--4. Greg asked, “So what goes in the fourth box?” I
answered, “The fourth box could be made up of tasks that are Not
Important and Not Urgent. These could be things like playing video games
or talking on the phone.”
Step #3 - Schedule
After Planning and Prioritizing, I explained to Greg that the third
step is to Schedule. I stated, “Take the to do list you created
and transfer it to a master calendar that you keep in your room.” Greg
stated, “That sounds easy enough.” I then explained that
he would need to practice time estimation and looking ahead as he scheduled
I stated, “Try to estimate how much time activities like
homework will take you. Leave the amount of time you expect to spend
doing homework, and keep track of the amount of time you actually do
spend doing homework.” Greg asked, “What about big projects?
I have to create a diorama to go with a paper for a book report that’s
due in a month. I have no idea how much time that will take.” I
explained that long-term projects like that would be easier to break
into segments. I stated, “Give yourself mini-deadlines, like one
for finishing the book, one for writing the paper, and one for making
I then explained that looking ahead in his planner
to check for other events that may conflict with the schedule could be
helpful. I stated, “If you decide that you want to do the diorama
the weekend before it’s due, for example, but you have a football
game that Friday night, you may have to rethink your schedule.” Greg
looked unhappy and stated, “This still looks a lot like the boring
lists everyone else uses.” I explained that the scheduling step
was a good place to personalize his list and make it interesting.
I stated, “You
can color code things, like using blue pen for sports events, and using
a red pen for school activities. You could even get stickers to help
you remember what the events are. Just make sure it’s something
that is visually appealing to you, so that you’ll want to look
Step #4 - Following the Plan
Greg stated, “I guess that makes sense. But you said there was
a fourth step? It sounds like after I schedule things, I could be done.” I
chuckled and stated, “The fourth step is to simply Follow that
Plan. Keep your calendar in sight. Use post-its or a planner if you’ll
need more reminders throughout the day.” Greg asked, “What
if I end up not having time to finish everything on my list? I mean,
I do procrastinate a lot. With that diorama project, even if I finish
the book on time, I’ll probably put off the paper to the same time
I’m doing the diorama, just because writing papers is so boring
and takes me so long.”
I explained to Greg that he had a couple
of options regarding having enough time to complete things. I stated, “Procrastination,
like waiting until a couple of days to start writing the paper, is not
always bad. You can call it ‘idea incubation.’ You might
come up with more creative ideas this way. Just don’t procrastinate
too much. If a task like writing gets boring once you’ve started,
try turning on music. If it’s not too distracting, it could spice
the work up.”
Greg stated, “I guess I could try that.” I
added, “Finally, allow some things on your list to die naturally.
Projects like the diorama are important and should be done, but remember
that some things on your master list were in the ‘Not Important
and Not Urgent’ box that you made in the second step of prioritizing.
Activities in that box may be left undone if you need more time.”
Do you have a client who, like Greg, has problems with time management?
Would your ADD teen benefit from learning the four steps of time management?
Would he benefit from knowing some of the methods of visually spicing
up his calendar and to do lists?
On this track, we have discussed Teaching Time Management for ADD teens.
We discussed the four steps to teaching an ADD teen how to manage his or
her time. These four steps are Plan, Prioritize, Schedule, and Follow the
What are the four steps to teaching an ADD teen to manage his or
her time? To select and enter your
answer go to
This CD set has covered such topics as: Basic Symptoms, Idiosyncratic
Patterns, No Fault, Internal Dialogue, Negotiation Training, Tactics
for Start Behavior, General Principles, Four Common Errors, Four Steps,
How Not to Argue, Medication, Guidelines for Effective Home-School Partnerships,
Classroom Management, and Time Management.
I hope you have found the information to be both practical and beneficial.
We appreciate that you've chosen the Healthcare Training Institute as a means for receiving your continuing education
Other Home Study Courses we offer include: Treating Teen Self Mutilation;
Treating Post Holiday Let-Down and Depression; Living with Secrets: Treating
Childhood Sexual Trauma; Interventions for Anxiety Disorders with Children
and Adults; and Balancing the Power Dynamic in the Therapeutic Relationship.
I wish you the best of luck in your practice. Thank you. Please
consider us for future home study needs.