Planning and Organising Skills
How we plan and organise
Organiser and Planners for Download and Print
The tips and tools in this section are based on research and people’s own experiences. Because everyone’s brain injury affects them slightly differently, some of the suggestions will work for you – others won’t. Try them out and use the ones you find helpful.
We use planning and organising skills every day to get things done. We also use these skills to organise bigger events such as holidays.
In this section, we explain the brain’s role in how we plan and organise and how a brain injury can affect these skills. We also suggest some tips and tools which you may find useful. There are three downloadable resources for you to use: a Day planner, a Task planner and an Appointment planner.
We usually take the steps below when we have something we want to achieve - a goal. We carry out a task, or a number of tasks, in order to achieve this goal.
1 Planning – deciding what we need to do in order to achieve the goal.
2 Initiating – getting started on the task.
3 Sequencing – doing things in the right order.
4 Finishing the task - achieving the goal.
Task example: Cooking a meal
The Frontal Lobes
The Frontal Lobes act like ‘managers’ to other parts of the brain. They are very important in helping us to get things done. The Frontal Lobes also allow us to change what we are doing when we notice something is not going according to plan. So, an injury to this area of the brain, often impacts on our ability to plan and organise.
We also use a number of other thinking skills when completing tasks, as well as the specific planning and organising skills mentioned above. For example, if your brain injury has affected your attention or memory, this can also impact on your ability to get tasks done.
For further information on Attention and concentration and Memory, see the relevant booklets in this Brain Injury Series. Frontal Lobe
The Frontal Lobes of the brain play an important role in our ability to plan and organise. We have two frontal lobes, one left and one right.
Common difficulties with planning and organising
After a brain injury, many people experience problems with:
Everyone’s brain injury affects their planning and organising skills slightly differently. You might find you can still get some tasks done easily, but find others are harder than before. Also tiredness or stress can make any difficulties worse.
If you would like to find out more about your particular planning and organising difficulties, a Psychologist or Occupational Therapist can advise you. They can assess a range of your thinking skills and suggest specific approaches that may help. See Help and information for contact details.
Try to keep your home or workplace tidy. This will help prevent you getting distracted by clutter. A tidy environment can also reduce the frustration of frequently having to look for things.
If a task is taking too long or it is not going well, ask yourself:
1. Download and print the Task planner if you wish.
2. Think about the task and write down:
3. Break down the task into steps. If you are not sure what the steps are, ask for advice or do a search on the internet.
4. Write the steps down.
5. Tick off each step as you complete it.
6. If a task is taking too long or is not going well, stop and ask yourself why. .
7. After you finish the task, ask yourself:
You can get a My organiser booklet from Headway. It contains Contacts and Personal Details sections, a Diary, and the Planning worksheets from this booklet.
Diary and calendar
Set up a convenient place as your Home information centre . If you keep your wall calendar, notebooks, to-do lists and phone, all in the one place, you won’t have to go looking for them when you need them.
Organising your paper documents
For example: Checklist for leaving the house Close any open windows. Lock back door. Get phone, keys and bag. Set house alarm. Lock front door.
If a task is not going well, stop and ask yourself if you can change how you are doing it.
If you have difficulty with applying for social welfare entitlements, grants or public services, contact your local Citizens Information Centre for advice and assistance with forms. Lo-call t: 076 107 4000. You can also request assistance from the Access Officer in any public organisations you are applying to.
Ask for assistance from the Access Officers in Government Departments, the HSE, the Dept of Social Protection or your local Council, for example. The Access Officers’ job is to assist people with disabilities.
Headway offers free community-based brain injury assessment, counselling and rehabilitation in Cork, Dublin, Kerry and Limerick. t: 1890 200 278 or visit www.headway.ie To access a public Psychologist, your GP can refer you. HSE t: 1850 24 1850 or visit www.hse.ie
To find a registered private Psychologist, contact the Psychological Society of Ireland. t: 01 472 0105 or visit www.psihq.ie
To access a public Occupational Therapist, contact your local HSE Health Office. HSE t: 1850 24 1850 or visit www.hse.ie
To find a private Occupational Therapist, contact the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland. t: 01 874 8136 or visit www.aoti.ie