It's that time of year again - final papers are nearly due. The end of the semester is busy and difficult for everyone. For people who struggle with executive function skills, it can be even more so. Breaking down assignments into manageable pieces and planning to do them over a period of several days can help prevent overwhelm and procrastination.
How do you break down assignments? Let's say your professor has asked you to write an essay comparing two books. Follow these steps:
1) Read over the assignment and highlight the most important parts. What is the professor really asking you to do? There might be a lot of unnecessary information on the essay description. Try to get rid of that and focus on what's really necessary. You can go back and check the details after you write a draft of an outline.
2) Make a list of what the final paper should include. For example: 7-8 pages, compare the themes of 2 books we read in class. 2 sources.
3) Work backwards on a calendar. Here's an example. If the paper is due on December 20th, you should have an outline by the 16th. This means you should have all of your notes done by the 14th. You should, therefore, go through the books again and take notes (if you haven't already) starting on the 8th. Put each of these dates on a calendar.
4) Write on your calendar how long you plan to work on the paper, and what, specifically, you will do each day (e.g. December 15th, 9-10am Take notes). Some days, you may work for just 30 minutes. Some days, you may work for three hours. It's better to overestimate how long things will take you.
5) Do this for each of your classes. Write how long you plan to work for each class on every day of your calendar. You may work from 9-11 on one paper, then take an hour long break, then work from 12-1 on another paper for another class. It will all depend how much work you have to do and how much you have to do outside of schoolwork.
Because anxiety comes into play, these tasks aren't always so easy. But breaking down assignment can help with the anxiety. It will help you to manage your time and not feel totally overwhelmed by assignments.