Ask the Experts

Q: “My Teen is Flooded with Assignments Every Monday!”

In this era of distance learning, many schools dump a whole week worth of assignments on Monday. With a mountain of work due Sunday night, students with ADHD are overwhelmed, unsure where to begin, and prone to procrastination. Here is a system for teaching time management and spreading out the work.

Q: “What do you recommend for time management when your student’s online assignments get mass assigned at the beginning of the week and are all due at the end of the week at midnight? It’s a nightmare!”

So many students today are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work assigned through online learning. I am hearing similar questions from many parents in our Order Out Of Chaos community.

Most of my students get easily overwhelmed by the volume of work they are assigned…especially all at the same time. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if the homework is simple computation or familiar vocabulary — seeing mountains of pages in a packet or an entire book to read in a week is paralyzing. Simply put, students with ADHD don’t know where to start.

I’m not a fan of checklists because the sheer length of one can really fatigue an already exhausted brain. My solution? A color-coded homework/assignment board used to break down the large weekly assignments into daily, bite-sized, visual tasks.

I color code the tasks specifically because my students respond better to color than they do to words. In addition, different color Post-It notes help to segment the work so they can easily see which subjects carry a heavier workload than others. Also, since some of my students already color-code their binders, folders, and even pens, color-coding tasks is a natural and organic extension of an established process. A win-win!

[Click to Read: How to Keep Kids On Schedule]

The board includes sections for work that needs to be completed (“the to-dos”), work in progress (“I’ve done 4 of the 8 problems and need a break!”) and work that requires additional support (“I need help!”). I’ve also included a glued-on folder where your student can keep instructions for a multi-day project or paper or even study guides or flashcards for an upcoming exam.

He can choose to only post work for one day at a time or the entire week. I prefer one or two days at a time as we want to keep overwhelm to a minimum. But it is truly up to your student. Either way, give your student a lot of choice on how he completes his work. For example, perhaps he prefers to work on one subject per day or get his hardest assignments completed at the beginning of the week when he is at his most energetic. Or if his Tuesdays are busy with other activities, he can decide to keep that day “light” and load up on quieter days. This visual system allows my students to work toward smaller, more manageable goals, which promotes confidence as well as strengthening the time management, prioritization, and organization muscles of executive function!

If you would like to see the board “in action,” please head to the Order Out Of Chaos website where we have a step-by-step video tutorial.

Good Luck!


Time Management: Next Steps

ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

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