Karen MacMillan, LDAC


Set up your environment for success

  • Find a dedicated space – choose a location specific for working, even if it is just a section of your bedroom, and declutter to clear away distractions.
  • Make sure everything you need is in one location – gather up supplies, such as a clock; paper; computer; headphones; note pads; different colored pens; highlighters; and a day planner.
  • Experiment with what sounds help you focus – an open window to hear the outdoors; quiet music in the background; or headphones to block out all sounds.
  • Make it appealing – make sure you have a comfortable chair, add a picture or a plant
  • Keep your goals in mind – hang a calendar or a white board for an overview of your long-term and short-term goals.

Reflect on what you know about yourself

  • Reflect on what has worked in the past – consider what types of work conditions and strategies have worked for you in the past.
  • Re-read your last Psycho-educational report – refresh your understanding of your cognitive profile and the specific recommendations that were made.
  • Use technology – consider what Assistive Technology might be beneficial to help you accommodate for your relative weaknesses
  • Advocate for what you need – Make sure that you voice what you need in terms of accommodations for deadlines, supports, etc..

Maximize your effectiveness

  • Be consistent – wake up at the same time every morning, and follow the same general routine in order to start work at the same time each day.
  • Just get started – if you are struggling to focus, commit to 5 minutes of focused effort.
  • Understand your assignments – record deadlines, as well as the main features of the expectations.
  • Create sub-deadlines – make a list of all the steps that need to be taken before the work is completed. Then, figure out how long each step will take and set a deadline for each one.  Make sure you have built in time to get editing feedback from others.
  • Maximize your abilities – make sure you have scheduled breaks for hydration; healthy meals; and physical activities.
  • Follow a five-day work week – keep your weekends separate from your weekday schedule.
  • Break down your priorities for the day – start the day by chunking your goals for the day into smaller tasks with associated timeframes.
  • Keep your work easy to access – ensure your online platform (such as Google Drive) is organized, (e.g. by subject and completed vs uncompleted projects) and delete unnecessary documents.

Keep yourself accountable

  • Recruit a work partner – find a peer to discuss assignments, and share your goals with.
  • Recognize when you have stopped being effective – take a “mini break”, e.g., make yourself a cup of tea; put on some music and stretch; reflect on an issue during a walk around the block; or go to a park and re-read your notes.
  • Reward yourself – set a reasonable goal, and then do something you enjoy when it is done (e.g., call a friend; get outside for some fresh air; bake some muffins; or watch a show).
  • End the day well – reflect on what you accomplished, consider what you could do differently in the future, and set your priorities for the next day.

Maintain balance

  • Plan for connection – ensure you have different kinds of connection with others (e.g. friends, family members) on a regular basis.
  • Set up weekly rituals – make sure you have weekly events to look forward to.  
  • Give yourself credit – consider what you are proud of accomplishing, and how you persevered.
  • Engage in self-care everyday – reflect on what brings you joy, and how you care for yourself.