5 Things To Do Before School Starts

5 things to do before school starts


A successful school year starts at the end of July with preparation and organization.  With the start of school just a few weeks away, you have just enough time to be ready with the stuff you need and the routines to embrace that you will feel positive about the start of the school year.

Organize School Stuff Together

Engage your students with organizing school supplies together. Gather all the supplies from your home and categorize them. Next, find the “home” for these items and gather organizing supplies. Label your supplies for easy access. Place supplies in a zipper case in a divided backpack to use at school.  Add a supply caddy for your homework station.


Create Homework Spots

Having multiple homework spots keeps homework engaging. The best areas for this are near supervised devices and computers. Some options might be your dining room, your office, or at any large table where you can see the screen and there is ample space to spread out. Be sure to designate a landing strip at the door your family exits for fully loaded backpacks ready to leave the house. A packed backpack is the last homework step.


Plan After School Activities and Tutoring Help

Get ahead by planning afterschool and tutoring help. Physical activity after a day of sitting in school helps students focus, sleep better and build self-esteem. There are many homework helpers available from tutoring companies to high school students. Set up afterschool activities that allow for a positive afterschool and evening routine.


Review Calendars

Families need two calendars for school.

  • The Family Calendar either digital or paper enhance communication and collaboration. With this calendar, everyone knows the dates school starts, school holidays, family vacations, and all family activities. Reviewing the Family Calendar weekly at the family meeting keeps everyone on the same page.
  • The Student Planner either digital or paper holds the list of assignments, tests, and projects that the student is responsible for. This list is what is used every day for homework. Teachers offer a Week At A Glance (WAG) online on the school website. Information for the Student Planner is a consolidation of all class work and after-school activity dates.


Plan for positivity and self-care

No matter if you are a parent or student, you will thrive by including self-care in your plan. That includes community self-care like laundry, meals and taking care of your home. With a chart for your family to work with, you can partner up with responsibilities. Included for self-care is an organizing reset each week. That is each Sunday evening in preparation for the new week ahead. Individual self-care includes setting a bedtime with adequate rest. A positive plan for self-care is a priority for your best school year.


More tips on Back to School here!

Teaching your Teen Time Management

teaching your teen time management



Your kids have known how to tell time since elementary school.  But even with this background, as teens, they are late, don’t get chores completed, and may turn in assignments late to school.  Time management is more than just knowing how to read a clock.  It’s a struggle for teens to know what to do and how to get things done with time management.


According to Psychology Today, time management is just one of the four most critical areas for teens today.  With the level of brain development, teens are not fully equipped for time management.  Because brain development continues into the twenties, teens benefit from our coaching them with time management through high school and college.  Teens are unsure of what to do first, how long it will take to complete, and how to get started.  Teen time management includes coaching in prioritizing, initiation and procrastination, and duration of a task or project.



What’s important and should be done first? That’s a question not only teens struggle with.  Parents don’t always agree on this between themselves.  How do we know what’s most important? It can be a matter of focus for all of us.  However,  you can help your child make these decisions by helping them process what needs to be done.

  • Encourage your teen to write down their priorities. For most kids that includes school grades, friends, church, and activities. If there are too many priorities, too many sports, or too many extracurricular activities, you can coach them to understand just how much time it takes for each activity.
  • Grid out with your kids the time available and where their priorities fit on the grid. Time blocking works well because kids can see what they have to do and when they will be doing it. That includes time for self care like sleep too. Using a paper or digital planner makes time more visual.
  • Set aside time to plan. Weekly planning time with their planner each Sunday or Monday gives your teen time to acknowledge everything that is on their plate and also record due dates. With so much information coming in by text and social media, they need time to consolidate it all in one place.


Initiation and Procrastination

Getting started on a task can be the hardest part of any project. Also known as initiation, those with executive function challenges find planning engaging but getting started more difficult. Procrastination can be from fear, lack of skill, or lack of motivation.

  • Plan an initiation strategy. For many, the “warm-up” to the project is gathering the materials, reviewing the instructions, or checking online with others in the class. Creating your own “warm-up” strategy will help for all upcoming assignments.
  • Make it fun to get started.  Find an innovative way to start a project.  You can add in technology or a gadget, work with a partner, or create a new perspective on the project.
  • Schedule the time to start a project. At that time, use a timer, set for 15 minutes, to help you get started.
  • Brainstorm the costs of procrastination. What’s at stake? What will happen? What are the consequences of not getting started soon enough? Coach your student through this process to verbalize the costs.
  • Set up a compelling, organized environment.  A clear workspace, quiet or white noise, and easy to access school supplies make it easier to get started.


We don’t know how long it takes to get a specific task done. But we do know that we can guess and set a time on our calendar to get a task done.

  • Help your teen create routines that take just 5 minutes. Making their bed, placing laundry in the basket, and putting trash away are 3 small tasks that take less than 5 minutes altogether. Your teen might think these take much longer. Write out routines with only 3 steps so that your teen isn’t overwhelmed.
  • Create more time awareness with more analog clocks.  Clocks should be in all your spaces to be sure you are gauging your time.
  • Your teen can set a timer when they start a task. Clocking the time will help them know how long a task takes.
  • Break big projects or tasks into baby steps.  Map out small sections of a project, and assign a time and date to accomplish them.  Nothing seems as overwhelming when it’s broken into smaller chunks.


Transition time

Building in transition time helps your teen be on time. That is the time that is between activities and moving from place to place. Your teen may not allow enough time to get ready, get to school, or clock in for a job. Coach your teen on how much time it takes to drive from home to school, then set use a timer to realistically learn the amount of time it takes. Having sufficient transit time helps your tee feel more confident and less stressed.


Tools for time management



Focusing apps


On your smartphone

  • Clock with timer for getting started and timing how long a task takes
  • Pandora playlist for organizing or homework time
  • Notes for making lists
  • Reminders and more tech


It takes practice, practice, and practice to learn the skills of time management. Don’t get impatient with your teen about how long it takes.  Every experience is a learning opportunity here.




Survival Tips for College Students with ADHD

Survival tips for college students with adhd


Starting college is one of many big transitions in education and life skills for our kids with ADHD.  Your student might have a strong start with high school successes. Now is the time to plan for thriving in a new environment.  Begin by talking through these strategies for students starting or continuing their education.


Be prepared for classes with trusted tools and a time management plan.

Unlike high school with lots of structure, starting college creates demands on executive function with time management, routines, and distractions.  Know what you will use as a planner and how you will set up your time by attending class, setting up a time to study, and knowing when you have time to go out.  At first, this is hard because you are not sure how much time your out-of-class assignments will take. Handle this by setting up study time in a variety of locations to get accustomed to the routines of studying and the demands of classwork. Set up your class schedule so that your daily routine is similar every day.

Capture information and prioritize your time. Record everything in your planner and use a task list if you need to be sure of all your assignments. Add a chart with your schedule in writing or program reminders on your smartphone. Prioritize important activities so that you earn the grades you want.


Build a support system

Transition to college is starting over with support. Creating a support system for when things get rough is your best first step on campus.  Find the right support on campus at the disabilities office and check out the academic success office. Both are easy ways to find strong support academically immediately. For health, check out the on-campus health clinic. Your medication can be sent locally to the pharmacy in your new town. You can hire a coach or talk with a campus counselor when you feel overwhelmed.


Set up automated reminders for routines and reminders

Automation is a wonderful way to be sure stuff gets done. Reminder apps are helpful for making new routines and supporting existing routines. This will help you remember your medication, when to get to class and when to start your new school work routine. Set up automated refills for your medication through your pharmacy.


Organize your stuff

College dorm rooms are tiny, shared spaces. A lot of order and just a little stuff makes it easy to organize. If you have too much, bring some stuff home during breaks. Be sure your valuables, including your medicine, are safely stored, and organized. Most of your schoolwork will be digital so stay organized online with digital folders. Store what you use frequently with easy access and portability. Work with an ADHD coach or ask an organized friend for help.


Life learning

There are more responsibilities as you are on your own and become independent. That is laundry, meals, and finances to learn about and master. You are practicing these from the start as you incorporate these responsibilities into each week at college. If you find that you are without funds, falling behind in laundry, or generally lacking self-care, it’s time to think about the process. An ADHD coach can help you set a schedule for these life learning skills.

Money management

Learning about finances takes time. In the beginning, it is about keeping within a budget, which is likely new.  Try setting a weekly budget for specific types of spending to track what you are spending.  Write a list of what these are and track them. You can start tracking your spending with Mint or Every Dollar.


Self care

All night studying, late-night parties keep you from getting a good night’s rest. Junk food and vending machines are not the best for ADHD brains. Sitting all day without walking or exercising can keep you from sharp thinking. All of this is to say keep your self-care a priority by taking walks, eating healthy, and getting 8 hours of sleep as much as possible. You are thinking  – everyone at college stays up late and eats junk. As a person with ADHD,  this will impact you more than those with neurotypical brains.


The struggle is real

Your years away from home are times of great learning both personally and academically. Start with one area to work on and build from there. These tips are a good first start at college success. Maintaining these are the hardest part! As the semester goes on, you may feel more overwhelmed and in a rut rather than a routine. Remember that every day is a fresh start. Check-in with an ADHD Coach for a fresh perspective and get a good night’s rest.

7 Top Tips to Stay Organized During College Application Season

Top Tips to Stay Organized During College Application Season


The summer before senior year of high school, during the months of July and August, is the time to start applying for colleges.  There are many steps in the application process.  By starting early you will be able to pace yourself and do your best work. Being organized about the college application process makes applying easier.


Organize your college files

As soon as your search begins, you will be receiving brochures and information from potential college choices. Set up a paper filing system to hold these materials, especially as you narrow your choices. A file box with hanging files labeled with your college names makes it easy to file.


Organize your email

Colleges send a lot of information by email. If you are already good at managing your inbox, keep the same email address. If not, create a new email address just for incoming college information. Use this email address for all college materials. Make a note on your planner to check your email daily as you begin applying to colleges.


Organize your college choices

Start with a college spreadsheet that includes all the colleges to which you will be applying. Include all the steps that are required to complete the application. Completing this sheet may require some research to learn the deadlines and other details. Check to see if you can use the Common App to apply to all your college choices. A google sheet listing the name of the college and required information helps you stay organized and on top of deadlines. Mark your calendar with these important dates to be sure you are on time in sending in required information.


Name of college Application type Priority date Deadlines for application Completed and submitted (date) Application fee amount and paid Supplemental essays and date submitted Transcripts forms submitted and due date Resume attached SAT or ACT sent Acceptance


Establish a timeline

College applications can be sent for early decision, early admission, rolling and regular admission. Be sure to complete according to these deadlines for your colleges of choice. Create a work schedule and stay on track with it. Working on college applications takes time. Give yourself a series of two-hour sessions to complete each step for college applications. Online apps allow you to complete sections and save that section to break your application into manageable chunks of time.


Essay organizing

Choose a college essay topic that gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts and show your talents. Start early to give yourself time to do your best work. Ask for help from those who can proofread your essay for grammar and topic. Connect to those with expertise to help here.


Apps that help

There are many practical apps that help you with the college application process. Get organized with a google sheet to track your college requirements. You can write your essay in a Google Doc to share it with your proofreader. Evernote or Notes app can store your volunteer, work, and other experience for your application. Google Calendar, Outlook, and your online calendar can alert you with reminders for your working time blocks. Use technology to help you do your best work and keep on your assigned timelines.


Keep calm and carry on

Applying for college takes time and energy. Remember that you can do this well. It is worth the time and attention to organization that will help you throughout this process.


Need help in the college application process? I am here to help!










Top Ten Categories of Clutter in Your Space

Top 10 Clutter Categories


I recently saw a list of top common clutter categories shared by my colleagues on my National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals site. The list is compiled of categories of items in people’s homes regardless of socioeconomic status that causes clutter. It was interesting to see where many people have challenges with clutter.  Do you recognize these categories in your home?  Check out the list!


Common Clutter Categories

  1. The paper includes junk mail, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and unopened mail.
  2. Empty boxes including shipping boxes, shoe boxes without shoes, technology, and product boxes
  3. Free condiments from fast food or other take-out restaurants including ketchup, salt, soy sauce, and plastic cutlery
  4. Free toiletries including those from travel and gifts with purchases
  5. Bags including zip locks, gift bags, and reusable shopping bags
  6. Cords, cables, telephone wires, and other outdated technology
  7. Linens including blankets, extra sheets, towels, and comforters
  8. Trash includes half-empty water bottles, opened junk mail, paper plates, and grocery sacks.
  9. Hangers including wire hangers and plastic hangers from stores where clothing was purchased
  10. Excessive quantities of any item, including plastic bags, shoes, clothes, and books


Now you are ready for change!

Now if you have identified any of these clutter-causing items in your space, you are ready to make a change. Take advantage of a power period for organizing and declutter your space. That is write an appointment with yourself for a time block to edit and let go of one or more of these categories. Allow time to drop off at a local philanthropy and you will already see a big difference in your space. Consider this a challenge for your organizing this season and share your successes with others.


Happy Organizing While Traveling


Post-pandemic travel is a lot like traveling by stagecoach; jostling along in a bumpy carriage. There are organizing strategies that will help you be comfortable and organized on your journey. Using apps for travel and packing keeps you organized while you travel.


Use apps for travel

There are lots of changes before and during your travel.  Flights changes and weather interruptions impact our journey.  Start by updating and uploading all travel apps related to your travel. The best apps according to Travel and Leisure include Flight Aware and your Airline app. Add your hotel company app for paperless access to your reservations. Consolidate all your travel on TripIt. TripIt declutters your itineraries and documents by keeping them organized in one place. You can set your reservations to be automatically sent to TripIt, which will let you view travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, and hotel.

Use a packing list

Life is busy and travel is complicated. Often we are busy preparing for the trip the week before with extra meetings, calls, and tasks. Giving yourself extra days to pack helps you be more organized. Pull out your travel bag 3 days in advance and start dropping in what you need or set aside 2 hours to fill your bag according to your list.  While you can purchase items on the road, use a packing list. You can customize your list on the Notes app with a check box to include your specific needs. Of course, there are many apps specifically for packing.

How to pack to stay organized during travel

  • Frequent travel requires a complete personalized toiletries bag. A clear bag with toiletries helps you know you have what you need. Include a complete set of what you use stored in this bag. No overthinking what to pack and no need to remember your daily items with a designated toiletry bag.
  • Use packing cubes for categorizing what you pack. Different sizes of cubes organized and consolidate clothing. You can group items by day of the week or type of clothing.
  • Putting small items, like socks or power cords, into a packing cube can help them from rolling or moving around in your bag. With a technology organizer, you are never without the cords you need.
  • For a complete guide on what to pack and what to pack it in, check out this New York Times Guide.

Safe spots for important travel documents

Peace of mind is when you know are organized with your important documents. When traveling internationally, it is important to keep your travel documents safe all the time. There are travel wallets and waist belts for your money, credit cards, global entry card, and passport. Be sure to use the safe in your hotel for jewelry and devices. You will want to make a copy of these important documents, as well as items in your wallet, to store at home while you are gone and in your handheld travel bag in case of loss. Give these to a trusted person at home while you are away to keep just in case of loss.


Pack your patience and be prepared for changes

We have been waiting for this time to travel for a while. It is different now after the pandemic. Pack your patience and other items of interest to keep you entertained during your travel. Kindle, audiobooks, music, and games make travel time fun. Be prepared for changes. Bring your headphones and It’s all about the memories you are making.




3 Project Management Tips for an Easy Household Move


3 project management tips for an easy household move

Getting organized for a move requires a project management approach. What’s useful are a timeline, extensive lists and a team approach to help you keep your sanity. Here’s how to put that into action.


Your Timeline

Start with developing a timeline for your move. There is the actual move and the moving preparation.  Included in the move timeline are dates the movers will load the truck, packers will arrive, and time you will be between residences while packing occurs. Be sure to include when utilities and internet will be set up. Moving preparation includes decluttering and optional items you will sell or donate before the move. You may have offsite storage and need to assess items coming out of storage for your move. Work backwards on your timeline  and record this timeline in your planner. Review this timeline with your family to be sure they know what to expect.

How much time do you give to each step?  Start decluttering at least three months in advance. You can eliminate what you don’t use or need at your new residence. Ask your mover for how many days to pack and move. Add in those many days to unpack at your new residence.

Your check lists

Your timeline evolves to your task list.  Record each task on a check list to be sure you have completed each step. Create a list for what will be placed in each room so that the furniture can be labelled.  Use a packing list for what is in each box going into specific rooms. Write a list of what will be in your personal needs boxes to be sure to remember the details. Each evening update your check list with more tasks and check off what is completed. It is a time where there are lists of lists!


Your team

Moving is a project the requires a lot of help.  Add team members to your project. This includes movers, packers, professional organizers, childcare help and other resources. Price all these additional team members to add to your move budget. Ask for referrals for these services, interview three potential movers and get everything in writing from each of your team members.


Keeping your sanity

Keep your move organized with lots of labelling. Have plenty of markers available to write the contents on your box. You can label the boxes with a room name or assign a number to the room. Your movers will appreciate knowing that they can unload in the correct room without your direction because you have labelled the rooms and boxes.

Remember the last in – first out box and your own personal needs during this move. The last in- first out box contains all the hardware for beds and the remote controls. These are vital to your happiness during the first 24 hours in your new home. Your personal needs items include medications and stuffed animals that must be a part of your first night in your home.

Keep your most valued and valuable items with you. A valued item might be your daughter’s stuffed animal or the keys to the car. Valuable items include jewelry, guns and irreplaceable family keepsakes. Use specific luggage for these items so you can separate these from the moving boxes.


Keep calm and carry on. It will take a little longer than you like to settle in, even with every box unpacked. Happy moves happen with a plan!

Saving Your Sanity before Moving

organized move


Moving is at the top of stressful transitions in life.  With a little time and effort, you can make it easier and save your sanity with some preparation for your move.  These steps include recycling, decluttering, and re-organizing.

Start with easy steps

It might be surprising how much trash and recycling is in your home. Start with this low level of decision-making. If it is paper, cardboard boxes, or plastic recycling, find local resources to recycle this. It might take a few trips to the curb or the recycling center. There are a lot of electronics to recycle in our homes. Those are older computers and devices. Ask your local Facebook group to find a trusted resource to take photos off of old computers and then recycle these. If you can power up your devices, back up to the iCloud or Dropbox and then sell or recycle your devices.  Start early with this step as this is a little more time-consuming than you might imagine.



You can save a lot of money and stress by decluttering room by room. Start in any space and go around the room letting go of what you have not used and what you don’t love.  It is likely you will not use it in your new space if you have not used it in the existing home. Decor changes and your previous colors and design would hold you back from loving your new space. If you are downsizing, use a rule of thumb of percentage of space to percentage of belongings. Donating is the easiest way to downsize. You can call a local philanthropy to pick up your donations. Begin this step 2 -3 months out or as soon as you talk to realtors about your home sale.


Closets and kitchens are especially important to declutter. Potential buyers like to see these areas more spacious. A decluttered closet or kitchen invites potential buyers.



Moves are easier when items are organized. During busy times, stuff gets put wherever, stuff gets scattered, and there is a lot of disorder in your home. You want to get together what goes together. That way you can pack like items together. As a family, re-organize stuff to get items back to the rooms they belong. Keep this momentum going throughout the moving process with a weekly reset each weekend.

Once you see stuff together again, take a good look at your categories. If you see an overabundance of one category, you can take another pass at decluttering.

What about all the papers that you have not had time to process? Keep these for later and do not re-organize. For the mail and documents that are more than a month old, keep these in boxes labeled by month and/or year to go through later. Most likely these will be easy to toss or shred once you have moved.


No matter how little time you have before you pack and move, it is well worth an investment of a short time block to recycling, declutter and re-organize. During your move, you will be so happy you did!



ADHD Friendly Apps for Every Day Life

adhd friendly apps


We all have our favorite apps for everyday life. These are our trusted resources online that help us each day. I created this list in 2016 which is still valuable today because some actions and apps are timeless.  These apps are available on your devices and your computer which make them so much more useful.


To manage your “to do” list and multiple projects at home and work

We all have more to do than time to do it. Having an app to capture projects, tasks, and a long list of “possibilities”  makes it easier to get stuff done. You can break tasks and projects into manageable steps with these apps. Check out Asana, Click Up, or Trello.

  • Asana helps you work with your team or family. You can coordinate and collaborate with your team using boards or lists of actions. It is a workflow that gives you context to your tasks within the projects.
  • Trello is a visual task board with “index cards” for you to view. It’s simple to set up and use. Lists are flexible and can be named with your own context. You can name the lists by the days of the week, the project, or however you think of your tasks or projects.
  • Click Up offers the option to view you in multiple ways. There are many ADHD-friendly features built into Click Up once you are more agile with this app.
  • Evernote is an app standing the test of time. This context-based app lets you create “virtual notebooks” to hold the tasks and projects. It’s the ease of use and versatility make it a long-standing favorite!
  • Notes app is easy to use.

No matter the app, it won’t do the task for you. Getting started might require “warm-up initiation” strategy. However, being organized with your tasks will save you time.


To manage your dates and appointments

Having an app at hand on your device or smartphone makes it easy to keep up with appointments and determine dates.

  • Google calendar is easy to use and available to sync with family. You can use several calendars and some can be hidden for only you to view. This calendar is a part of the Google Suite so it works well with Gmail.
  • Calendly helps you schedule time to work and collaborate. You send an invite and your invitee chooses what works best. This app is a great time and email saver too in making it easy to schedule.

Setting reminders and timers help you stay true to your plan. Multiple alarms help you especially transition between time blocks.


All those other apps that keep life simple and easy

  • LastPass is the most recommended password keeper.  Just remember one password and all others are accessible.
  • Airline apps help you travel easily. There are new features like baggage tracking, seat choices, and more evolving every time we travel.
  • Dropbox holds your files and pdf documents for easy access no matter your location.
  • iCloud backs up your data on all your devices. Be sure to turn on automated backup each evening when you charge your phone.
  • MileageIQ helps you track your mileage.

We all have favorites! I hope you will share your favorites here too so we can learn what you love and use.





How to Use Pre-Decision Making to Streamline Your Day



Every day is filled with decision after decision. Your day starts with decisions like what to wear. At work, you decide what is your most important task for work to do that day. The day ends with decisions like what’s for dinner. What if you did not have to make so many decisions each day? What if some decisions were already made by you ahead of time?


One of the hardest things for people with ADHD is making decisions. There are thousands of decisions to make every day which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. What if, as Bobby Powers says, you only had to make one decision and prevent making all those others? What if the one decision also prevented you from stressing more? That is what is powerful about pre-decision making.


What is pre-decision making?

A pre-decision is making a decision made before the decision is needed in a certain circumstance, based on ethics, principles, and goals. That decision can be brought about by a series of unfortunate events (not wearing matching shoes to work because you are deciding between two pairs) to goals (eating healthier so not stopping for fast food).


What can pre-decision making apply to?

Each of us has different goals we are working on and these goals require in-the-moment decisions to keep. Here are some examples you might think about for your pre-decisions.

  • Deciding to get more steps in daily, you park farther away in the parking lot.
  • Getting more meals ready for dinner, you choose to have breakfast for dinner each Friday night.
  • Making it easier to get out the door on time, you choose your attire for the night, set up lunch prep, or make coffee at night before bed.
  • Getting a good night’s rest, you charge your cell phone and devices in the kitchen in the common charging spot.

Some people might call these rules, routines, or principles to live by. In all these cases decisions were made ahead of time to meet the desired outcome.


How do you make a good pre-decision?

Start by thinking about which decisions you make daily over and over. Which decisions are overwhelming you? Where could you simplify life or meet a goal with a pre-decision? Now you have a motivation and a “why” behind your decision. Keep it simple with this if/then statement. Because I want to (accomplish this goal), if (specific situation happens) then I am going to (pre-determined decision.)

The pre-decision starts as soon as possible. Post this where you can see it. Share your pre-decision with others so they know why and what your decision will be. While you may not always follow your pre-decision, be sure to keep it as much as possible and more than not. If you find you are breaking it repeatedly, start with a different pre-decision that reinforces this same goal.


What pre-decisions will do is save you time, energy, money, and most especially stress. If you find yourself making the same small or large decisions over and over, it is time for pre-decisionmaking.