As the seasons start to transition from summer to fall, many of us are experiencing transitions. Kids have just started their new school years, adults may have new schedules at work, and many may be experiencing other personal transitions in their lives. For everyone, it is important to establish productive and organized routines in order to more effectively and comfortably acclimate to the changes in our lives. Below are tips for kids, teens, and adults about dealing with transitions and staying organized.
Routines and consistency are key for kids. For transitions that will happen every day (such as getting ready for school in the morning, hygiene activities, going to school, homework time, bedtime, etc.), it is helpful to develop a regular set of steps with children and to then review them each day.
With those transitions and routines, it is important to provide previews and countdowns about when the transition will happen. Give a warning (for example: “In 10 minutes, it will be time to get ready for bed” and then repeat with 5 and 2 minutes left). This way, kids will know what’s coming and can emotionally prepare themselves to transition.
Using visual timers can be helpful in teaching kids the meaning of time. There are both apps and physical visual timers that show kids via a countdown how long they have until the next activity happens.
Using visual schedules can help kids understand and remember what they are expected to do. A visual schedule could have pictures along with words detailing the steps for different routines.
For all kids, and especially for kids with attention difficulties, it is important to make sure that you have their attention when instructing them about routines. Getting their attention includes ensuring eye contact, perhaps putting a gentle hand on their shoulder, and having them repeat the instructions back to you.
Older Kids and Teens:
Routines and consistency are also important for older kids and teens! With that said, it is also time to start fostering independence. Teaching older kids and teens to create checklists is a great way to move towards independence in organization.
Schedule manageable chunks of time to get work done. It is more realistic to work for chunks of time, and it will feel reinforcing to accomplish goals more frequently. Chunks can be set for an amount of time (such as a half hour) or for a quantity of work completed (for example, number of pages written or number of math problems completed).
Use a planner and block out segments of time for assignments. Notice how long assignments usually take to complete, as this will help to more effectively schedule as the school year goes on.
Schedule both work time and free time, including breaks and weekends.
Try a color coding scheme for materials for different classes.
Do homework in a calm, distraction-free setting.
Make sure to get enough sleep (for teenagers, this should be around 9 hours!)
Write things down! You may think that you will remember everything later, but you will likely forget things. Use a system that is best for you – be it the notes app on your phone, a notepad, or a planner.
Creating both daily and weekly schedules can be incredibly helpful for planning in advance and knowing what is coming your way.
Use external tools such as apps, planners, calendars, reminders, and storage solutions.
Break large, overwhelming tasks down into smaller, manageable tasks. This will help you to feel accomplished more often and will help you to concretely see all of the steps that you need to do to accomplish your goal. This can be great for large projects at work or even for tasks at home, such as cleaning.
Choose a “home” for your objects and always put them there – don’t just set them down wherever! Repetition will create positive habits, and this tip will help you to stay more physically organized in your home or workplace.
It’s never too late to identify ways that you’d like to be more organized. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and build strategies from there.
Ultimately, remember that different strategies may feel and work better for different people, so try some of these strategies but go with what ends up working best for you or your kids! Also, some tips may be helpful across age groups.