Over the next several weeks – months, I will be writing articles on all of the executive skills highlighted in the free report from my website. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, it’s easy to do at This article is about planning.

Planning is defined by Dawson and Guare (2012)  as “the ability to create a road map to reach a goal or to complete a task. It also involves being able to make decisions about what’s important to focus on and what’s not important.” Planning and prioritizing is difficult for all teenagers but near impossible for someone who has an executive skill weakness in this area. The good news is that with training and practice this weakness can be strengthened and you can be on track planning ahead and prioritizing your best life.

So how might you go about strengthening this planning skill? Through creating a daily, weekly, monthly and biannual routine for planning and finding a planning tool that you use consistently. Here is a very basic list to get you started.  Ask yourself what’s coming up in these areas of your life:

  • personal –  appointments, fun activities, volunteer jobs
  • work or school –  deadlines, big projects, tests/quizzes
  • family/friends – activities of other family members and time for connection/fun
  • home – laundry, cleaning, routine maintenance

If you think ahead about these four areas of your life and put the items on a calendar biannually (August and January), at the beginning of every month, every Sunday for the week and daily when you wake up and before you go to bed you will have built a basic routine that will get you on track to not only doing all you need to accomplish but to also building plenty of fun into your life.

Many folks who struggle with planning do so because they have resistance to using a planner. They believe they can keep it in their heads, or out of boredom, frequently change their system. There are a lot of things we will be able to work around and create solutions that are “out of the box” but using a planner is not one of them.  Our lives are so busy and fast paced that we just can’t keep it in our heads any longer. So find a planner you can live with, whether it’s a paper calendar or one on your phone or computer (I recommend Google calendars) and make a commitment to use it daily. If your resistance is super high on giving this a try, here is a baby step for you: buy a small monthly pocket calendar and write down only the things you  know you consistently let drop or the things you least want to do. Carry and look at it daily and see if it serves as a support and back up.

In my first newsletter, I put a link and picture of a planner that works really well for most people who use it. It’s big and easy to use and has enough time to cover your evening activities. It has blank areas that you only have to write once for your subjects if you are in school and for the different areas of your life if you are managing a family and job. The website for purchase is

On the next article, I will write about prioritizing. Until then happy planning!