Managing the Online Workload


What do you recommend for time management when your student’s online assignments get mass assigned at the beginning of the week and are all due at the end of the week at midnight? It’s a nightmare!


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Leslie Josel  

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order Out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of several books including the recently published How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away.

So many students today are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work assigned through online learning. I am hearing similar questions from many parents in our community.

Most of my students get easily overwhelmed by the volume of work they are assigned…especially all at the same time. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if the homework is simple computation or familiar vocabulary — seeing mountains of pages in a packet or an entire book to read in a week is paralyzing. Simply put, students with ADHD don’t know where to start.

I’m not a fan of checklists because the sheer length of one can fatigue an already exhausted brain. My solution? A color-coded homework/assignment board used to break down the large weekly assignments into daily, bite-sized, visual tasks.

I color code the tasks specifically because my students respond better to color than they do to words. In addition, different color Post-It notes help to segment the work so they can easily see which subjects carry a heavier workload than others. Also, since some of my students already color-code their binders, folders, and even pens, color-coding tasks is a natural and organic extension of an established process. A win-win!

Organizing the Board

The board includes sections for work that needs to be completed (“the to-dos”), work in progress (“I’ve done 4 of the 8 problems and need a break!”) and work that requires additional support (“I need help!”). I’ve also included a glued-on folder where your student can keep instructions for a multi-day project or paper or even study guides or flashcards for an upcoming exam.

He can choose to only post work for one day at a time or the entire week. I prefer one or two days at a time as we want to keep overwhelm to a minimum. But it is truly up to your child. Either way, give him a lot of choice on how he completes his work. For example, perhaps he prefers to work on one subject per day or get his hardest assignments completed at the beginning of the week when he is at his most energetic. Or if his Tuesdays are busy with other activities, he can decide to keep that day “light” and load up on quieter days. This visual system allows my students to work toward smaller, more manageable goals, which promotes confidence as well as strengthening the time management, prioritization, and organization muscles of executive function!

If you would like to see the board “in action,” please head to the Order Out of Chaos website where we have a step-by-step video tutorial.

This article was originally published by ADDitude Magazine where Leslie Josel writes a weekly column called “Dear ADHD Family Coach.” She answers readers’ most pressing questions on a whole range of ADHD parenting topics. To learn more, visit

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