Every new year, everybody starts going on self-reflection mode and begins to create goals and plans for themselves for the new year. More often than not, though, these goals end up on the back burner, and are once again recycled for the next year. For high functioning autistics and aspies, however, while we do have our own goals and plans, our impaired executive functioning ends up getting in the way of things. So, as we are still in the first month of 2018, I decided to come up with a few tips that can help in setting goals, creating schedules, creating plans and keeping them this year.
1. Write Things Down in a Planner- Nothing beats writing down your schedules, plans and to do lists in a planner. This will help you see things more in perspective, and will help you figure out what you are supposed to do at the moment. Also, there is something innately satisfying about crossing out that task from your to do list. Having a planner with all events and deadlines written into your calendar will definitely help you figure out when you will space out your sub-tasks or to dos as well.
2. Have More than One Calendar or Reminder System- Nothing beats having an actual physical planner. However, sometimes, writing it down isn’t enough, especially if you need to be able to re-orient yourself at different points of the day. You can also input your to dos, task reminders and event reminders on your phone, or as sticky notes, in order to help keep yourself on track throughout the day.
3.Have Your Own Organizational System- Having your own organizational system is important, because it will help keep you on track and on task. For example, I usually jot everything down on my actual physical planner, on my personal and family calendar on my phone. I sometimes also have lists on my phone, just in case I am in a situation in which I cannot really take out my actual planner. However, each person is different, and others might prefer to use sticky notes or color code things in order to keep things organized. This will also be handy if you are doing several classes or tackling more than one project at the same time.
4. Time or Day Block Your Activities- One big advice given to me by my therapist is to time block or day block my activities. For example, mornings can be the block of time in which you do creative stuff, while you do all the other administration work in the afternoon. Or you could use Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to write, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to do administration work such as replying to emails. This will be able to allow your brain to me more focused on things that are similar to each other, and will enable you to be productive with the tasks at hand. Also, it’s like having a school schedule for the week, it’s routinary, so your brain will get used to it as well, and you’ll be more productive as a result.
5. Keep a Flexible but Routinary Schedule- Even though you’ve day or time blocked your activities, it doesn’t mean that you will forget about the daily things you do in your daily schedule. So, keep your daily schedule, but make sure that there’s enough room to do other things, such as your day or time blocked activities. Having a daily routine really does help, as it allows you to be more productive and more focused on those particular things, and you are less likely to forget what you are supposed to do for those daily tasks.
6. List Down Your Dreams & Talk W/Your Therapist on a Long Term Plan- When it comes to creating goals, it’s best to talk to your therapist about them. He or she will definitely help you realize what your life long dreams are, and what steps you can do, which will turn into your goals for the year, to achieve those dreams.
7. Think of Achievable & Practical Goals for the Year- When it comes to making goals, sometimes it seems like you’ll be able to accomplish something grand if you create a huge goal for yourself. However, before you settle on it, it’s best to take a step back and think whether that goal of yours will help you achieve your bigger goals and dreams and life, and if they are actually practical and achievable. Sometimes, a smaller goal is better, because then, you’ll have something that you know that you really will be able to accomplish, instead of a herculean task that you know you will end up recycling for next year.
8. Make To Do Lists- I love making lists, and especially To Do lists. To Do Lists allow us to break things down into steps that we can actually accomplish and do. It’s far more easier to approach things one step at a time.
9. Break Down To Do’s & Goals into Bite Sized Steps- Making a To Do list breaks down what you have to do to achieve a particular goal or task, but more often than not, especially for those with impaired executive functions, we have to break it down to even smaller sub-tasks. Breaking it down will be able to make sure that we have covered all our bases and have done our job thoroughly, and not missed any important steps along the way.
10. Ask for Help- Setting goals, creating goals, and sticking to them is hard not only for the neurodiverse, but for the neurotypical as well. Asking for help means that you are asking guidance to create goals, and you also may need to rely on the help of your therapist and loved ones at times to achieve some goals, or be reminded of tasks that you need to do that you might have accidentally forgotten. Asking for help always works, and there’s no shame in doing so.
And those are my tips so that you can create goals, schedules, plans, and keep them this 2018.
What do you think of this list? Are there any other tips or any other strategies you use to help you accomplish your goals and help keep you on track? Let me know in the comments below!