(Tip #1 of the series 15 Tips to Support Your Brain for Good Time Management)
A brain that lacks the executive functioning skills of time management, planning, and prioritizing creates a life full of stress, often bordering on chaos. I know. That was my life before I was told to sit down and draw my week.
Please understand that I’d read all the best-selling time management books, tried a multitude of calendar systems and had pages and pages of lists. None of these strategies stopped me from doing things like showing up for a birthday party, gift in hand, children in tow, only to have a confused mother open the door and tell me that the party was TOMORROW. I did this twice.
It was somewhere around 1996 when my relationship with time changed. Dr. Ellyn Arwood, a professor at the University of Portland, had a theory that was pretty radical at the time. She said that some people were visual thinkers and that their visual thinking affected their behavior, including their awareness of time. She identified me as a visual thinker, one whose strength is in thinking in pictures. To get a handle on my time-challenged brain she told me to go home and draw my plan for my week. The results are shown in the top image. It was chaos. Not a tidy picture. And it took me TWO HOURS!
I’ve since refined my drawing of my week as you can see in the bottom picture. I use icon images for each of my roles and the tasks that take up my time. In essence, it is my foundation picture for the week, showing me what I need to do. It is part of the process I use to plan my time, to be balanced and in control of my life. It all takes about 20-30 minutes once a week.
Try drawing your week plan and keep your picture in sight. Do this each week and you’ll get a lot done with less stress.
Discover two free resources explaining the role of the executive functions in our struggles and successes, in school, the workplace and beyond at https://www.BlametheBrain.com
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.
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Executive Functioning Tip #2: Plan to Carry a Planner; Paper vs. Technology
Executive Functioning Tip #12: Restorative Time