Executive Functioning Tip 1: Get a Picture of Your Whole Life for the Whole Week

Executive Functioning Tip #1: Get a Picture of Your Whole Life for the Whole Week

(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


Executive Functioning Tip #1: Get a Picture of Your Whole Life for the Whole Week

Executive Functioning Tip #1: Get a Picture of Your Whole Life for the Whole Week

About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. 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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sharon.ness30 says December 13, 2014

This is a revolutionary shift for us visual learners! The two samples say it all for me. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise AND your experience. You really do understand from the “inside out”.

    Marydee Sklar says December 13, 2014

    Sharon, it is my honor to be of help. I have “been there” and know that it can be so much better with the right tools and way of “looking” at the time in our lives.

Kristen Previte says May 12, 2015

Whoa! This idea has never occurred to me! I love the idea of not putting them in chronological order and listing them in THINGS TO DO. I’m going to try it with my 10 year old and I’m going to pray that it will help us also! I know that we both need to understand the units of time and this type of “schedule” is wholly different, but I think the two different types may help us relax our brains and get into the routine and then the TIME SCHEDULE will help us actually SEE how long it takes to do things. BRILLIANT! I can’t wait to get started tomorrow morning!

Thank you so much for all your tips and helping ideas! I have hope again! Your podcast was brilliant as well!

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