9 Time Management Tools for Kids and Parents Managing ADHD


Each one of us has a unique relationship with time. Some people experience it differently than others, and you may be more aware of time passing (or less aware of it) than others. You may feel like you have very little time in the day to get things done, or you might feel like time is “on your side.” 

Time management skills are closely linked with prioritization, and they aren’t things that everyone learns intuitively while growing up. We develop the majority of time management skills between the ages 10 and 15. But we start learning them in early childhood and continue developing them throughout life. With the right tools and some coaching, everyone can improve their time management abilities. 

Kids with ADHD may need some help learning time management skills and applying them consistently. In this blog post, we’ll uncover nine tools you can help your child use for time management.

Why is time management challenging for some people with ADHD?

Many people with ADHD perceive time differently from the time they are children. Symptoms like restlessness, emotional impulsivity, and hyperfocus can cause them to use their time for a given task differently than most others would. Time may seem to pass more quickly for people with ADHD than for those who are neurotypical, or they may experience “time blindness.” 

As soon as children start working on projects with a limited amount of time at school, teachers and parents may notice that those with ADHD aren’t using their time effectively. Those students might not work fast enough to get projects done on time, or they may procrastinate because they’re prioritizing other activities. That doesn’t mean your child isn’t interested in succeeding at school or that they can’t perform at the same level as their peers. They just need some help looking at time management in a way that makes sense to them.


Free resource: Tips for Time Management Infographic

BBS_LeadMagnetPreview_Template-Jun-05-2024-02-20-55-1189-PM9 time management tools to work on with your child

Once your child’s most prominent ADHD symptoms are assessed by a professional and understood, they can start learning time management skills with the help of specialists, coaches, teachers, and you. It might take some trial and error to build a time management toolbox that works for them. Fortunately, there are plenty of tried-and-true time management tools that are especially helpful for children with ADHD. 

You can help your child adapt and customize these tools for everyday use. Parents have an instrumental role in reminding their children to use these tools consistently and encouraging them to do their best at tasks that are the most challenging. 

Try experimenting with these nine time management tools to see what works best for your child:

  • Calendar app — To help your child with big-picture time management, sit down with them and explore how you can set up a calendar app for their activities. Talk through the different settings like reminders, color-coding, and recurring events to devise a system together. Finally, sync your calendars so you can both see what’s coming up.
  • The Eisenhower matrix — Also known as “Covey Quadrants,” this is a way to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Talk about the differences between things that need to be done soon and things that need dedicated time and focus. Then draw a grid with “important” and “not important” on one axis and “urgent” and “not urgent” on the other. Sort some examples into the four quadrants together and use this often.
  • To-do list — A to-do list is a great visual reminder of the individual tasks your child needs to get done in a day. If certain tasks don’t seem very rewarding, add rewards to the list that they can enjoy after the important things are done. For smaller things, checking them off or putting a sticker next to them can be a tiny reward in itself.
  • Budget vs. actual — This can be very helpful for kids who tend to underestimate how long tasks will take and those who push things until the last minute. Grab that to-do list and ask your child how much time they think they’ll need for each item. Then use a stopwatch to time how long each thing actually takes. Comparing these numbers can help your child start to develop a better sense of when they should get started on certain tasks and what they can expect their day to look like.
  • Five-minute goals — Five-minute goals are a way to make progress in a very short amount of time, and they can help improve focus. Start by setting a five-minute timer for a quick task like folding laundry. Your child will start to learn that getting started on tasks they’re dreading is sometimes the hardest part. This can help with tasks that will take longer, too. Challenge your child to see how much they can get done in five minutes. Once that time is up, they might have the motivation to keep working and finish the project.
  • The Pomodoro technique — This one will also require the use of a timer, and it helps with “boring” tasks that can seem to take forever, like homework. Set it for 25 minutes of focused work and then take a five-minute break. You can even get the tomato-shaped kitchen timer this technique was named after.
  • Zone systems — If your child struggles with distractions, organizing zones can help them stay on task. For example, set up a clutter-free desk area for homework instead of doing it at the kitchen table. If they play an instrument, find a practice space with few distractions where they can set up their music stand.
  • Phone reminders — Use an alarm app to label reminders for daily things like getting ready for school, going out the door, and starting a bedtime routine. You can even add reminders to ease transitions, like “Five more minutes” or “Find your shoes.” Getting into a rhythm with these everyday reminders can help them become smoother over time.
  • The unschedule — Having unstructured time for fun and self-care is an important way to relieve stress. When you put these things first and set time limits, you can help your child start their day or their week with more motivation. 


When should we use these time management tools?

You might already be thinking about some times when these tools will come in handy. It can help to start practicing them when things aren’t urgent so your child will be ready to use their tools when they need them. 

People with ADHD are likely to have lower dopamine levels, which is where low motivation and procrastination often stem from. These tools are especially helpful with tasks that don’t seem very interesting — for instance, planning effective homework breaks and household chores.

You might want to set aside some time each week for your child to assess their priorities, budget their time, schedule tasks on their calendar, and set reminders. You can also use this time to determine what tools to use and when.

Beyond BookSmart Executive Function coaches can help your child with time management

Time management is just one type of Executive Functioning. Executive Function skills are life management skills that we all need in order to be effective in planning, initiating, and achieving daily goals at home, in school, and in the workplace. Other areas include organization, planning, prioritization, focus, self-assessment, and efficiency.

People with ADHD often have difficulties with multiple types of Executive Functioning. Our coaches help children with ADHD develop skills to master time management and other Executive Functioning areas. Your child is guaranteed to like their Executive Functioning coach, or we’ll find you another one.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an inquiry call.

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