Back to School Systems: ADHD style

It can be tempting as you start a new school year to think that the answer to ADHD organizational challenges is an expensive “back to school” shop. You may feel like by buying stuff, you will be able to compensate for your challenges with prioritizing, managing tasks, and staying on track.

Before heading to the store, or coming up with an elaborate new plan for how to stay on track this year, check out our top tips for organization this September. Your answer just might be found in a mindset change and a couple of specific tools that you can customize. And remember, a system needs to feel right for your brain style and be easy and quick to maintain!

Here are a few Springboard approved ideas:

Back to School ADHD Style Fbook1. The accordion folder 
A folder like this can be really great because you are able to put all of your stuff in one place and not have to manage multiple binders. You can just put each subject in a different section and you don’t even have to worry about having a three-hole punch! It’s simple and has enough structure to it so you can stay on track easily. Categories in one simple spot!

2. The whiteboard 
There is something about whiteboards and ADHD. By putting your agenda in a clear spot with space for non-linear and creative thinking, you can make what you want with it. It allows you to manage a list the way your brain sees it. Up on the wall, you can keep it fresh, and you won’t lose it either! Pro tip: Consider taking pictures of it regularly so you have your stuff backed up.

3. The three bins (Any bins will do!)
Sometimes managing all your work (multiple different subjects/competing priorities) can be too much to keep track of. By laying out three bins, you can work to simplify what needs to be worked on now, soon, or can wait until later. Label them in categories that make sense for you, perhaps something like “today, this week, this month”. This can help you visually chunk up your different priorities, but still keep them top of mind. Pick a time, set an alarm, and reassess your bins once or twice a week in scheduled intervals.

4. The Big post-it notes
There is something motivating (especially if your brain is a more non-linear style) about using big post-it notes on a wall to help organize your thoughts and your priorities. By putting them on a wall, you can help synthesize your to-dos and add structure to your process. Find a blank wall and feel free to talk aloud while you’re doing it. This type of scaffolding can help your prefrontal cortex stay engaged and keep you inspired!

And most of all, remember that the system you use needs to feel right for you! Get some structure in place and then go!


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