If you are a college student, you are quickly learning that there are many activities vying for your attention every day. It is important that college students learn to balance the daily demands of college life. Remember, the ADHD brain is wired for the “here and now,” as well as for interest. The importance of a task does not necessary trump a fun and interesting activity that is available in the moment: aka hanging out with friends or interacting with digital media.
Some common activities that need to be incorporated into a student’s schedule:
Friends and social opportunities
Cleaning the dorm room
On or off campus job
Sports and extracurricular activities
Mindfulness practices/personal exercise
Too much fun can result in low grades. Not scheduling time to do laundry can have detrimental results for both you and your roommate. Forgetting to incorporate exercise and eating nutritionally balanced meals can make studying and homework less productive.
So how do college students balance all the demands?
The answer is easy: create a master schedule so you are able to see how and where you spend your time. By creating a visual schedule (digitally or pencil and paper), you can then assign times to get your laundry done, work on homework, work with a tutor, exercise, go to club meetings, clean your dorm room, etc.
At the start of each semester, take a few moments to sit down and create a master schedule containing those things that occur the same time each day/week. Once you have a master schedule (make photo copies if you are using pencil and paper), you can then add additional elements to it that don’t occur on a repeating basis such as study group meetings, deadlines for assignments, additional hours you are picking up for work, and any other randomly scheduled meetings or commitments.
An example of such a schedule is provided here. You can see that I have penciled in study and homework time in my available time frames. Exercise, club meetings, etc., still need to be added.
Fun is important! The ADHD brain needs to have some fun during the day to operate at optimal performance. Don’t forget to schedule something fun every day. It doesn’t have to be a long activity, just 20 minutes will do the trick to refresh the brain. It is important to understand where a fun activity will fit into your schedule. Also, set a timer, or know your start and stop time, so you don’t get lost in your fun activity and spend more time doing it than you really have.
The ADHD brain often likes to just jump into activities without creating a plan. So, while it might seem boring to sit down and plan out your time, it will be in your best interest to see how you will need to navigate your week. Seeing your time in this way allows you to form a realistic picture of how much time you have available. Having a plan helps you keep on the correct path to completion.
Kristine Shiverick, M.Ed., ACG, CACP is a professionally trained ADHD and Executive Function Coach. Kristine received her B.A. in Severe Special Needs Education and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She received her basic, advanced, and family ADHD coach training through the ADD Coach Academy. Kristine provides coaching to help students, adults and families impacted by ADHD learn about the unique wiring of the ADHD brain, discover effective strategies, minimize the challenges of ADHD, and live the life they want to live. Kristine believes in taking a strength-based approach to help her clients grow in all areas of their lives. Kristine runs an ADHD parent support group in her local community, and co-facilitated a virtual college support group for ADDA.