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Executive Function 101: Time

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Executive Function time management clock

This is the first post in a five-part series about Executive Function. Each post includes downloadable templates to use at home and in the classroom. The second article is about managing materials. The third addresses managing information, the fourth achieving independence, and the fifth finding balance between school and extra-curricular activities.

Developing a sense of time is an essential ingredient to managing executive function.

Experts agree that time management is a challenge for many people. Students with executive function deficits should learn to adopt tactics, including:

homework log
Download this Homework Log template.
  • defining the task
  • creating a vision
  • maintaining an agenda
  • predicting time
  • using a timer to account for the passing of time
  • prioritizing tasks
  • making a plan
  • noting and revisiting deadlines
  • initiating an activity
  • regulating attention and focus
  • setting up systems to avoid distractions
  • revising the plan
  • reflecting on the progress

These skills draw on tools and a mindset that must be developed over time—with plenty of reinforcement and practice—to build new and productive habits. As students become more proficient in managing time, they can adapt their methods to suit their style and the challenge at hand.

“When we can implement effective time-management strategies in our day-to-day routines, we greatly reduce our stress- and anxiety-levels, leading to a healthier and calmer state of mind. Similarly, when we are less stressed and anxious we are able to utilize better time management strategies.” —Melody O'Neil, Associate Director of Admissions


  • Use visuals—like hands on a clock, to plan and predict time.
  • Use a timer to measure manageable chunks of time.
  • Estimate time before starting work and revisit this upon completion.
  • Set long- and short-term goals.

Strategies to Avoid Distractions

  • Clear clutter from work area.
  • Turn off phone.
  • Close web browser.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Set a timer.​

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