Executive Functioning: Organization


When most people think about organization, having their work materials in order or keeping their clothes put away are some of the first things that come up.  While these are two important pieces, this Executive Functioning (EF) skill goes much farther than just being a clean person. 

Organization is the ability to prioritize and complete tasks in an efficient way. Below, this definition is broken down and applied to a few different key areas. 

Your materials/things.

If you have your school/work materials in order, finding whatever you need is easy.  This will help you get things done faster and increase efficiency.  At home, if you have all of your clothes put away, you can easily find the outfit you need instead of wasting 15 minutes in the morning looking for your uniform/favorite shirt. 

Your tasks or "to-do" lists. 

This is where the prioritizing piece of organization comes into play.  If you or your child have five tasks to complete, but no organizational structure in place to help you do so, efficiency will be lost. This is where we often see distraction take its toll.  It is far easier for you to be distracted by fleeting thoughts or things like text messages when you don't have your tasks outlined.  Helpful tip: Create a Timeline. If you say that you are going to work on one thing for 30 minutes, and then give yourself a 5-minute break, you will be less inclined to give in to distraction and more inclined to power through those 30 minutes. 

Similarly, when you or your child sits down to complete an assignment there are ways to organize yourself before you get started that will help you be more efficient in the process. Before starting any project, it is recommended that you read through the directions and know exactly what is being asked of you.  Next, gather all of the materials you will need, this way you don't need to get up in the middle of working to grab something.  Then, outline what steps you will take to complete the task.  Will this need multiple days?  If so, write out a plan for each of those days. This will help you understand how much time the project should take. Finally, think about how you will know when the assignment is done and ready to be turned in.  Do you have a rubric or guide to compare it to? Should someone else take a look at it first? While these steps might seem excessive, especially for smaller projects, they will help streamline the work.  If you spend a little extra time, in the beginning, it will decrease the amount of time you spend working through issues or dealing with confusion. 

A helpful organization tip that you can do at home: 

Create checklists.  This is a simple way to organize yourself or help your child be organized.  What does your child need to take to school every day?  Make a checklist and go through it when you or he/she pack their bag every night.  What do you need to buy from the store? Write a checklist so you don't forget anything.  This is a quick step that will save a lot of time later.