How to Teach Organizational Skills to High School Students

How to Teach Organizational Skills to High School StudentsHow to Teach Organizational Skills to High School Students

Do you work with older students who struggle with organizational and time management skills for large assignments or projects?  Many students with ADHD can have a difficult time managing assignment and staying on tasks.  These skills can be taught to help students be independent at high school and college.  Here are some suggestions on how to teach organizational skills to high school students and college students:

Teach how to manage tasks –   Instruct the students how to break large projects or tasks into smaller chunks to manage.  It can be very stressful for students to start a large project – it may feel overwhelming or impossible.  Using a task analysis approach, write down the parts of the overall project to manage one part or requirement at a time.

Teach time awareness and scheduling – Begin with teaching students how to create to-do lists, calendar and watches/timers to improve time management.  Try out different calendars (i.e paper versus digital).  Practice estimating how long a task will take to complete.  When done with the task compare the estimated time with the actual time it took to complete the task.  This helps give feedback to students on their perception of time.  Estimating the time accurately is an essential skill for long-term goals and planning.

Teach self-motivation techniques – Create personal reward lists for self-reinforcement.  For example, if you complete a certain task within 20 minutes you would earn one of your personal rewards.  Having something to look forward to can help students when they begin to feel unmotivated.

Teach how to use an organizational system – Help students to identify priorities, transfer to-do lists to schedules/calendars and rank task based on importance.  You can teach students the Eisenhower Box Method by ranking tasks based on a 4 point scale:

  • Do First – First focus on important tasks to be done the same day.
  • Schedule – Important, but not-so-urgent tasks should be scheduled.
  • Delegate – What’s urgent, but less important, delegate to others.
  • Don’t Do – What’s neither urgent nor important, don’t do at all.

You can download worksheets to help support this organizational system for high school and college students here.


LaCount, P. A., Hartung, C. M., Shelton, C. R., & Stevens, A. E. (2015). Efficacy of an organizational skills intervention for college students with ADHD symptomatology and academic difficulties. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054715594423.

The Eisenhower Box Method.  Retrieved on 3/12/18 from

How to Teach Organizational Skills to High School Students