13 Time Management Tips for Teens with ADHD to Increase Productivity
Where did I get these time management tips for teens with ADHD?
The tips in this article are in line with the handbook, Teaching Children with ADHD, created by the US Department of Education in 2006.
The handbook is based on the work of ADHD researchers such as Russell A. Barkley and Dr. George J. Dupaul.
I have also utilized these tips myself and taught teens with ADHD how to use them as well.
As a mobile therapist, I have practiced many of the tips in this article with my clients, and watched how it increased their productivity.
Are these tips only for teens with ADHD?
Some of the tips listed are more appropriate for college and high school students, but many can be taught to elementary and middle school students as well.
Additionally, these tips can help anyone, not just individuals with ADHD.
Related Article: 8 Unique Studying Tips for College Students with ADHD
13 Time Management Tips for Teenage Students with ADHD
1. Watch the time.
You can use whatever you want: a desk clock, wall clock or wristwatch. You can even set a timer.
When starting a task, say the time out loud, or make a note of it (write it down, for instance). This will help you to stay on track.
Promise yourself to work on the task (homework,chore) for a specific amount of time (e.g., 10 minutes, 20 minutes) before taking a break.
Start off with an amount of time that you know you can conquer, and slowly add more time as your stamina improves.
2. Set limits for yourself.
You can write down a plan for the tasks you have to conquer (e.g., I will work on homework from 5 to 5:30 and again from 5:45 to 6:15 each day after school).
You can set an alarm to remind yourself to start a task, and set a timer to go off after a certain amount of time has passed.
This will help you keep track of how much time you spend on a task.
Related Article: 3 Ways to Use Timers to Encourage Homework and Chore Completion
3. Allow extra time to complete tasks.
Start a habit of giving yourself an extra 10 minutes for every half an hour you think you’ll spend on completing a task.
You’ll have a more flexible schedule in case you have incorrectly estimated the length of the task.
4. Set your plans earlier.
It’s the same thing as with the previous tip.
If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, aim to be there 10–15 minutes earlier.
Plan out how much time you need to be ready to leave on time.
Here is an example
- shower/brush teeth 20 minutes
- get dressed 10 minutes
- brush hair/put on deodorant 5 minutes,
- eat breakfast 15 minutes
- extra 10 minutes just in case
Total time = 60 minutes.
You can also set an alarm to know exactly when to leave.
5. Use a planner.
You can write down all your plans and appointments using a weekly planner.
You can purchase your own or print out weekly planners for free online.
Just do a Google Image Search for Weekly Planner.
The main purpose of your planner is to keep everything in order so you don’t forget anything.
Tablets and smartphones, also have calendars, checklists, and note apps to help you keep track of your tasks.
6. Don’t cram your schedule.
Break up your tasks into manageable steps completing a little every day. This will help you stay less stressed.
When everything starts piling up, you can get overwhelmed and freeze. Procrastination is most likely to occur when you have several tasks to do.
Schedule your tasks in manageable chunks. Spread them out over the week, so you are knocking them out as you go, and they are not piling up and feeling insurmountable.
Monday – Homework, Clean Room
Tuesday – Homework, Research potential colleges
Wednesday – Homework, Laundry
Thursday – Homework, Fill out job application
Friday – Clean Car, Dance classeducationandbehavior.com
You don’t want to get so behind that when Friday rolls around you have to clean your room, do laundry, fill out a job application, research potential colleges, and make up missing homework.
Plan so you can knock tasks out one at a time as you go.
7. Set your priorities.
Sometimes you will have many tasks to do during the day, It can’t always be avoided, even with the best planning.
Make a list of what you have to do and order it by priority.
- Shower/Brush teeth
- Clean up
- Check/complete weekly planner
- Complete school project
- Practice Piano
Leave extra time in your schedule (30 to 60 minutes) to rest or take a break as needed.
8. Have a consistent sleep schedule.
Do your best to go to sleep at the same time each night and get enough sleep. If done right, it will have a positive effect on your productivity.
9. Create a long-term goal and break it up into manageable tasks.
For instance, you may have a long-term goal of getting a weekend job at your local science center.
You then would break this up into short-term tasks that you would put in your weekly planner.
- Visit science center
- Ask for an application
- Complete application
- Return Application
10. Break big daily/weekly tasks into smaller ones.
Task for Tuesday: Clean Room
- put dirty clothes in basket
- throw away garbage
- organize belongings on desk/dresser
- wipe down desk
- change sheets
Even if there’s a distraction, you can direct yourself back to your list and you will know exactly what to do next.
It will also be helpful to estimate how long each task will take, and then time yourself.
It is good to get an idea of how long it takes to complete certain tasks, so you can schedule and plan accordingly.
11. Trade the time.
No one can predict the future, and an unscheduled event will happen occasionally.
Instead of giving up the time that you planned to spend on a task, take out your planner and reschedule it for a later time,
12. Set attainable deadlines for certain tasks.
Put a note somewhere so you can always see it. This will act as a reminder to stay focused on your task.
time management for ADHD teens
13. Reward yourself.
Be sure to take a break to do something you really enjoy after you complete a task or a certain number of tasks.
Stay committed and don’t reward yourself until you have done what you set out to do.
Remind yourself that if you finish your tasks, you’ll be free to do whatever else you want.
Education and Behavior – Keeping Adults on the Same Page for Kids
Rachel Wise is the author and founder of Education and Behavior. Rachel created Education and Behavior in 2014 for adults to have an easy way to access research-based information to support children in the areas of learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. As a survivor of abuse, neglect, and bullying, Rachel slipped through the cracks of her school and community. Education and Behavior hopes to play a role in preventing that from happening to other children. Rachel is also the author of Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
“Children do best when there is consistency within and across settings (i.e., home, school, community). Education and Behavior allows us to maintain that consistency.”