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Toby Lee offers some useful tips to help dyslexics with time management

People with dyslexia, like me, tend to have poor time management skills. There are a number of reasons for this: we usually have very poor short-term memory, we have issues around organisation and we often have difficulties with planning and processing information.

We shouldn’t blame ourselves for any of this; it’s simply that we are born with a very active right side of the brain (which tends to make us creative), while time management is very much a function of the left linear brain. However, many dyslexics get frustrated by their time-keeping issues and it therefore has to be worked at and improved for the sake of everyone. 

As a child, my time keeping was terrible but it has now swung the other way. I leave myself twice as much time as most people to get going and I always arrive at functions or meetings early. To this day, I still set all my clocks five to ten minutes fast.

In my experience, there are some simple things that young people with dyslexia can do to help them organise their day:

  • use a colour coded diary for school and social time
  • buy a sand timer for home and use it for studying and fun time; we notice movement much more readily than we would a watch or clock
  • use the alarm and calendar on a smart phone (if you have one), so you get both a visual and an audio reminder
  • write messages and reminders to yourself on post-it notes and put them somewhere prominent; I also hang things on the door that I need to take with me
  • use a smartphone to take images of things you will need that day, such as school books
  • use a notice-board on the wall for important information.

Getting ready for school

Your preparation for the new school week should start on the Sunday before. Get yourself organised whilst you are fresh and alert; don’t leave it until Monday morning when you are half asleep. You might even find that you sleep better, as you have already organised things that are on your mind.

Don’t forget to be organised, and to use visual reminders, for your social activities, such as sports or outings. You could even do a road map of your activities, or an A to Z of your week ahead.

Schedule your study time so you can get ahead with school work. If possible, try to work at some point over the holidays and at weekends to give you a bit more space in the week. However, it is also important to schedule in free time. Plan in breaks within your homework –  maybe ten minutes every hour – but be disciplined and don’t stretch the free time.

Don’t play video games before you go to bed. Take an hour or so to do something less stimulating to help you sleep.

Being untidy is often a sign of poor organisational skills and it is far harder to find things quickly in a cluttered space, so try to keep things in their place. Always put important items, like your keys and phone, in the same place every time; do this as soon as you get in and soon the routine will become subconscious.

Poor time management effectively robs you of more time, as you’re always living in chaos and chasing your tail. It also causes increased stress and anxiety for you, and for those around you. As we’ve seen, though, there are things we can do to help us get organised. The ideas above worked for me and I have continued to use most of them throughout my adult life.  

Further information

Toby Lee is a semi-retired dyslexic practitioner/teacher, who has both dyslexia and dyspraxia:

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