The longer I work in the arena of executive functions, the more I value one specific skill: planning and prioritization or “future thinking.”
While some executive function skills are hardwired into your brain (either you have them or you don’t), future thinking is a life skill that can be taught. It is a key component of my Seeing My Time program. And armed with a very specific and simple support tool, lives can be dramatically changed. So what is that tool? The paper planner!
Yes, you read that correctly. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, paper planners are now a “thing”. People reported frustrations with the limitations of their digital calendars, something which I have observed for years in both my own life and the lives of my clients. Digital calendars are great for making appointments and sharing them with others. They are not so helpful when it comes to planning or looking ahead – a critical aspect of future thinking.
When I start to talk about writing in a monthly planner calendar, my clients are often skeptical – especially the younger digital natives. However, it doesn’t take them long to appreciate the value of being able to “see” time weeks ahead.
For example, one exhausted mom complained that she never had any time to relax on the weekend. She soon came to realize that part of the problem is the limited view of her phone’s calendar. People would ask if she was free on a given weekend day. She’d check that date and if it was open, she would say “yes” to the request. But in her phone view, she couldn’t see the fact that she had booked ALL the weekends before and after that date! No wonder she had no free time.
In another case, a very high achieving, hard-working high school grad was burned out by graduation and longed for a restful summer break before college. She had a long list of things she wanted to do, including a road trip with a friend and an out-of-state visit with a sibling.
Her problem was her former employer, who kept asking her to “just help out for a couple of weeks” and “fill in” when they needed her. She felt obligated to help them. It wasn’t until she had three months of calendars physically in front of her on which to block out her plans that she realized she had to say no to all of those requests for help. If she didn’t, she’d never get out of town and have the summer of freedom she had earned.
I recently gave a local business presentation on developing executive functions in the workplace. A woman was admiring my planner and confessed that she loved looking at planners but didn’t know how to use one. She told me she and her husband never planned any vacations.
This woman is not alone – that is why I designed planners that teach you how to do more than just jot down appointments or assignments and massive to-do lists. My planners come with videos to show you how to get the most out of this executive function tool. A powerful planner supports you to take action and create balance in your daily life. It helps you to see the future to create your future.
We just printed our academic year (August – August) planners for 2019-2020. We now offer two versions of the Seeing My Time Adult planner as well as the Set Up Success Student planners for students – middle school through college. All the planners are ready to ship! You can begin using them this August 2019, just in time to set up a great new year. Be sure to order enough for everyone in your family to become future thinkers.
I loved opening my planner to the month of July. I have so many cool plans for this month. Before the summer slips away from you, get out a planner with a month calendar view and plan for fun. Your future self will thank you.
Happy future thinking!
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.