Planning is one of the most important skills students must master, but for those with executive function challenges, this is notoriously difficult. I spend a great deal of time helping students build their own personalized approach to planning, so it actually works for their idiosyncrasies.
“Backwards planning” is a specific strategy I use with students who have long-term projects or upcoming exams/tests. It’s flexible, easy and powerful. The most important benefit is that it greater empowers long term memory and integration of learning.
1. Get your planner ready (doesn’t matter if it’s a paper planner, wall calendar, or electronic planner).
2. Plug in the dates and times for your exams or the final due date of the project.
3. Begin to plan study or work sessions backwards from the due date to the current date.
4. Be intentional and as realistic as possible about how much time you devote to each session.
A quick note on motivation: The hardest thing about backwards planning is sitting down and starting. You just do it. The magic is in making the plan, and you don’t have to follow it exactly. Trust me, this skill will help you for your entire life, regardless of what you end up doing. You got this!