You're on Your Own: College Success for ADHD Students

Learning how to get organized, study hard, and find balance is as essential as reading Shakespeare for ADHD college students.

Conquering College, Part 4

Organization: Fending Off Chaos

Organization and time management are essential to college success. Without parents or teachers looking over your shoulder, disarray can sink you, and a good night’s sleep can be no more than a dream. (Indeed, lack of sleep is often a major problem for college students with AD/HD.) Without frequent deadlines to keep you on task, it’s easy to fall behind. Here’s how to structure your environment and your day.

  • De-clutter your room. If you haven’t already left for school, leave behind half of what you’ve packed. Take only the bare necessities—things you’ll use at least once a week. Anything else will only create clutter.

If you’re already at school, box up everything that doesn’t meet the once-a-week test, and put it in a closet or storage area.

Do the same at your desk. Store supplies you use frequently in drawers, and whisk the rest away, leaving the desktop free of distraction so you can focus on course work.

Assign places to everything—your books, toothbrush, wallet, keys. Knowing where to find them will get you out the door faster.

  • Manage your time. Put your daily schedule in writing. Start by listing everything you do—waking up, eating breakfast, going to class, doing laundry, checking e-mail, and so on. Assign each activity a time slot, beginning with classes, labs, rehearsals, athletics, and other preset blocks of time. Now fill in the rest of the schedule, including meals, sleep, studying, and time with friends, prioritizing as you go.

If you’re comfortable using gadgets, plug the information into the calendar function on your cell phone, MP3 player, or personal digital assistant (PDA), and set reminder alarms. (See “Guidance and Gizmos,” page 22b.) If you can’t put together a realistic schedule, consider working with a coach or counselor.

  • Schedule for success. Think about where and when you study best. Are you most productive after class, after dinner, late at night? Block off two to three hours (more than three brings diminishing returns), and plan to do the hardest work first. Find a study place less distracting than your room. It might be the library, a café, or a room reserved for students with disabilities—whatever works best for you.
  • Carry a laptop. With your computer close at hand, you can take notes in class and file them into course folders, work on assignments in your spare time, and keep a searchable record of everything by subject and date.

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TAGS: ADHD and College, Organization Tips for ADD Adults

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