Are you struggling to find productivity in your day-to-day? Are you feeling like you are constantly putting out fires and not making any progress on the things that matter most to you? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with productivity because they are making some common mistakes. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 blunders that are sabotaging your personal productivity. Once you become aware of these mistakes, you can start taking steps to correct them and finally get stuff done!
Blunder #1: Not Having a Plan
One of the biggest productivity killers is not having a plan. If you don’t know what your goals are or what steps you need to take to achieve them, it’s going to be very difficult to get anything done. You will likely find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. Take some time to sit down and figure out what you want to achieve. Once you have a goal in mind, break it down into smaller steps that you can take to get there. Having a roadmap will help keep you on track and prevent wasted time.
This will get you nowhere fast on both the little things AND the big things. When looking at the major life decisions for what comes after high school, it’s easy to get stymied by all the “what ifs.” Do a little research and choose a path, you can always course correct later. Download the free Homeschooling Help book or pick up the High School to College course.
Blunder #2: Not Breaking Down Tasks Into Smaller Steps
Another common mistake people make is not breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. When you have a big project or goal that seems overwhelming, it can be tempting to just try to power through it without taking the time to break it down. However, this usually leads to frustration and a feeling of being stuck. Instead of trying to tackle the entire project at once, break it down into smaller steps that you can complete one at a time. This will help you stay focused and make progress until the task is done.
Something I’m always telling the students at Sparks Academy, particularly as they begin to tackle large assignments, is – “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” A racer runs a marathon one mile at a time. And a good student tackles a large project one chunk at a time.
Blunder #3: Not Scheduling Time for Important Tasks
If you don’t schedule time for the things that are important to you, they will likely never get done. It’s easy to fill up your day with busy work and put off the things that really matter, but this will only lead to frustration. Make sure you schedule time for the tasks that are most important to you, and stick to that schedule as much as possible. This will help ensure that you are making progress on the things that truly matter.
The ability to prioritize important tasks, culling the wheat from the chaff, is a hallmark of a good leader, and leadership skills are important for all kinds of successes in life, from employment to relationships. See how to boost your leadership skills here.
Blunder #4: Not Having a Dedicated Workspace
One of the biggest productivity killers is not having a dedicated workspace. If you are constantly working in different locations, it can be difficult to stay focused and get things done. Make sure you have a designated space that is just for work. This will help you stay focused and avoid distractions.
It’s possible to work from your kitchen table, but having a private workspace makes getting into the study zone much easier. Having set work hours and visual cues, such as a small sign or wearing headphones, will let well-meaning family members know you’re working.
Blunder #5: Not Taking Breaks
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help you be more productive. If you are working non-stop, you are likely to get burnt out and make mistakes. instead of trying to power through, take a break every few hours to recharge. This will help you stay focused and avoid errors.
Your break can be a walk around the block, shooting some hoops with a sibling, or picking up a musical instrument for a bit. It could be having a snack or taking a field trip to town — after all, every field trip doesn’t have to be long and / or exotic…
Blunder #6: Not Staying Organized
Another common mistake people make is not staying organized. When you are constantly trying to find things, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Make sure you have a system in place for organizing your work so that you can find things quickly and easily. This will save you time in the long run and help you stay on track.
Get a hold on this with the Rise & Shine Student Planner. Each month contains an at-a-glance calendar, with space for notes and a to-do list. Weekly pages are broken down by day, and daily pages provide space for habit tracking, notes, meal planning, and an hourly planner.
Blunder #7: Trying to Do Too Much
One of the biggest productivity killers is trying to do too much at once. When you are constantly jumping from one task to another, it can be difficult to focus and get anything done. Make sure you are prioritizing your tasks so that you are only working on the most important things. This will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Having a plan will help you keep on task.
Blunder #8: Procrastinating
One of the biggest productivity killers is procrastination. When you put off tasks, they tend to pile up and become even more daunting. Make sure you are staying on top of your tasks by setting deadlines and holding yourself accountable. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that you are making progress.
Are you easily distracted, noticing every sight and sound around you? When working on a task, are you often side-tracked and have a difficult time focusing? Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of distractibility. Learn how to focus more easily, which will help your studying.
Blunder #9: Not Getting Enough Sleep
One of the biggest productivity killers is not getting enough sleep. When you are tired, it can be difficult to focus and get things done. Make sure you are getting enough rest so that you can be productive during the day. This will help you avoid feeling exhausted and ensure that you are able to focus on your tasks.
Eliminate this blunder with the New Year, New Me Habit Tracker. This reusable calendar features monthly at-a-glance pages and weekly pages with space for notes and planning. Each week also has a habit tracker grid to help keep the momentum going with your new habits!
Blunder #10: Not Eating Healthy
Another common mistake people make is not eating healthy. When you are not getting the proper nutrients, it can be difficult to focus and stay on task. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet so that you can maintain your energy levels and avoid feeling sluggish. This will help you stay focused and productive throughout the day.
It may take some adjustments in your shopping and cooking habits, but eating real food (and not nuking it in the microwave) is so much healthier for you! Your body will appreciate the difference, and after a little bit your mood will improve as you begin to feel more energized. Check out the No Sweat! Cooking Bundle for quick, easy, and healthy meal ideas.
There are many common mistakes that people make that can stand in the way of their personal productivity. By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that you are able to stay focused and get things done. Make sure you try to implement some of these tips so that you can increase your productivity and achieve your goals.
For some parents, having a special needs child is the impetus to homeschool. Many families are choosing to homeschool because their special needs children’s needs are not being met in the traditional classroom. For others, it’s just one more challenge they aren’t sure how to face. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, homeschooling a special needs child is an adventure!
Homeschooling allows the flexibility for students to go at their own pace. You get the set the schedule. You can change the curriculum if it isn’t working. You can have one long work period, or several shorter work periods spaced out with transitional times. With family-style schooling, older special needs students can school alongside younger siblings, at the same level, without them feeling as though they’re “behind.”
It can daunting to think about what post-graduation brings for the special needs student, but s/he is in a great position as a homeschooler! In the upper grades years, homeschooling allows students the time to explore passions and career interests. Take some time to examine your special needs student’s strengths, combining those and their interests to find a career exploration starting point.
Background Information & Resources
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) covers thirteen specific disabilities, but its implementation varies widely from state to state when it comes to assisting homeschool families. Learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, health disabilities, impairments (speech, visual, hearing, orthopedic, and emotional), intellectual disabilities, and traumatic brain injuries are all addressed by the act. Check with your state department of education, and HSLDA, to see what your state will and won’t do for homeschooling students.
A federal agency, the Rehabilitation Services Administration provides vocational rehabilitation and other services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment and independence after the high school years. Each state has their own local agency to help work one-on-one with families.
SPED Homeschool and HSLDA are good general resources for any homeschooling family with special needs students. These resources are primarily for the younger student, but are a good place to start.
With Sensory Processing Disorder, normal daily demands in a classroom are stressful. Homeschooling provides an alternative for your child that allows him or her to grow with accommodations and love…
With SPD, normal daily demands in a regular classroom become stressful.
Bright lights can cause headaches
Humming lights are distracting
Hearing other kids breathing is annoying
People may be talking or laughing too loudly
The teacher’s words may be too fast or confusing
The sound of the school bell is scary
Smells may seem overwhelming
The seat may feel too hard
The clothes being worn may irritate the skin
The kid in the next seat may be too close for comfort
It is difficult to listen to the teacher and
write at the same time
SPD students may be labeled as ‘picky’ or ‘finicky,’ and
their issues may be ignored. This
response can lead to an emotional roller coaster.
It can be difficult for the student to label
emotions (they end up called ‘fear’)
It may be difficult to identify the source of
Once identified, it can be difficult to share
those emotions, and they are often dismissed
This can lead to a cyclic reaction, as the
struggles are then internalized, leading to more difficulty with regulating
The more heightened and dysregulated the
emotions, the more difficulty the student will have filtering out sensory
Do you see the cycle??
Is your child highly sensitive? How many of these statements apply to your child?
Over-sensitive or under-sensitive to noise,
touch, smell, etc
Agitated, anxious, or irritable
Poor tolerance for frustration
Impulsive, with poor self-control
Repetitive, uses self-stimulation
Tunes out or withdraws
Has tantrums and meltdowns (beyond the toddler
Rigid / inflexible thinking
Need to maintain control in situations
Need for routine, sameness, and predictability
Examples of self-stimulatory behavior include rocking, hand-flapping, vocalizing, or jumping. These behaviors are an attempt to self-regulate the arousal level and screen out unwanted stimulation when over-aroused. They can also be used to maintain alertness when under-aroused. These self-stimulating behaviors are often used early on, until the child learns other ways of regulating arousal.
It can be helpful to learn your child’s specific nervous system quirks.
What calms him?
What alerts him?
What are his sensitivities?
What overwhelms him?
What are his sensory preferences?
What interaction style is he drawn to (or does
What learning style works best for him?
What helps him feel safe and accepted?
The SPD child may not have any issues during the school day, but while keeping it together, he is accumulating stress neuro-chemicals throughout the day. The teacher doesn’t see the problem, but it is the parent who experiences the meltdowns after the child gets home to a ‘safe’ environment. These ‘after-effects’ show up as meltdowns and shutdowns.
Stress chemicals reach boiling point Coping skills collapse Child acts out to escape or avoid situation and reduce anxiety Hitting, kicking, pushing, throwing, slamming, biting self or others, and head banging all provide proprioceptive stimulation which releases stress chemicals Occurs when chemicals build quickly
Stimulation becomes too overwhelming, and nervous system shuts down Child may be lethargic, limp, unresponsive, and staring or closing eyes Occurs when chemicals increase gradually
Many people see the child as oppositional and purposefully acting out, but in true meltdowns, the child loses all self-control. He is not being oppositional; his stress chemicals have reached a boiling point and overtaken him. Trying to counsel, scold, or reason during a meltdown is ineffective. Reasoning skills are neurologically unavailable at this point, and the child is often remorseful after calming. Punishment only works if the child has some degree of control over his behavior.
It is helpful to touch base with all teachers, support staff, and even relatives, to help them understand. To help your child develop a learning profile
Define comfort zones (what is calming)
Know which interaction style is most comforting
(what makes him feel safe)
Define sensory sensitivities and develop
Know his strengths, weaknesses, dislikes, and
Create a list of supports and best teaching
Know which triggers are the most overwhelming
and how to quickly soothe these
Learning to help your child with sensory disorders falls
into four categories
Organize Nervous System – Incorporate physical activity daily; consult with a doctor about a sensory diet, supplements, and medication (if needed).
Reduce Sensory Overload – Develop sensory accommodations to prevent overwhelm; establish a plan for calming meltdowns.
Reduce Confusion – Develop a routine, with visual strategies for transitions. Slow down the day, particularly during transitional times, and continually review with the child. Take changes slowly.
Establish Boundaries – Set clear boundaries for both the child and interactions with others. Set expectations and work with child on self-advocation (once older) and using accommodations. Respect his comfort zones.
There are many different strategies for helping the SPD
child learn to cope with daily stressors.
It is best to choose one too and work at instilling it before moving on
to the next. Select an
easy-to-incorporate one first, to help build self-confidence, before tackling
more difficult ones. Over time, these
can become a part of the daily routine.
Stretching Wall pushups Squeeze ball Run, jump, skip Lift, carry, push/pull heavy object Vacuum or sweep Play leap frog or tug-of-war Hit, kick, bounce, throw ball Calm, crawl, scoot, pull up Roll / knead dough or clay Wrestle, rough house, pillow fight Weighted vest, lap pad, or blanket
Jump on trampoline Swing on swing set or hammock Run, skip, ride bike Spin, rotate, swivel chair Sit & Spin Play on scooter or wagon Rock back and forth on rocking chair Hopscotch, tag, chase Swingset – slide, seesaw, trapeze Rock back and forth on therapy ball
Help the child learn to fight perfectionism. All children, regardless of sensitivity, can
benefit from learning to ‘fail to succeed,’ meaning to learn from failure. Teach the child to focus on effort and
attitude, rather than performance.
Explain that ‘good enough’ is still good. (You can demonstrate this by baking cookies
that are purposefully less than perfect, and then having a tasting party! Are they perfect? No.
Are they good enough? Yes.) Make a game of making mistakes each day. (Obviously, not life-threatening ones.) Model how to own the mistake and learn from
it. Play games where there are ‘snags,’
such as Chutes & Ladders.
Integrated Learning Strategies has several breathing exercises for teaching children to self-soothe. Check them out at this page.
Attention & Focus
You may have to remind him to refocus several times a day, but try to do so without anger or frustration.
Break large tasks into smaller bits, and recognize the completion of these smaller tasks.
Use charts to help keep them focused on the tasks at hand.
So how does this play out in the real-world? You can break the cycle of the ABCs of SPD!
Asked to do something Homework assignment Community event
Hitting self or others Screaming Hiding
Escape / avoid task at hand
For each of the three antecedents, we’ve outlined possible cognitive or sensory deficits that lead to the behaviors and provided alternative procedures for approaching them.
For example, when asked to complete a task, the child may not understand multiple steps of instruction. By breaking the task into smaller chunks and allowing time to process the request, the child can feel successful.
Cognitive Delayed processing Multi-step direction difficulty Short attention span Trouble transitioning Difficulty with uncertainty
Sensory Sensitive to touch / noise / smell Overwhelmed by crowds Difficulty processing oral directions
Request Use short phrases and visual cues (c) Give time to process directions (c) Break task into smaller chunks (c) Use cues before transitioning (c)
Homework assignment Break homework into small chunks (c) Do one thing at a time, with breaks (c)
Community event Use headphones or ear plugs to block noise (s) Avoid crowded times (s) Prepare by previewing what will happen (c)
If you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, then you already know that normal daily demands can be a bit of a minefield. You’ve probably already developed several strategies, perhaps unwittingly, to help him cope. Homeschooling provides an educational path for your child that allows him or her to grow with accommodations and love. You’ve got this, mama!
Parents of special needs children have a difficult row to hoe…one fraught with worry, sleepless nights, and a seemingly never-ending list of doctor and therapy appointments. Some hope that public schools will help address their child’s needs. Some avoid the school system and go for the tailored education approach. There is no right or wrong path to take…only the one that is right for your family.
If the special needs student attends traditional school, they will be given an IEP – an individualized education plan. This is a legal document that defines what a student needs according to his or her diagnosis. It outlines a special education program that provides tailored instruction and support services, such as speech or occupational therapy.
Within the homeschool, an IEP can also be a valuable tool. By sitting down and taking stock of the student’s needs – really taking stock and writing it down – you can evaluate where you’re at, where you want to be, and design a plan for how to get from point A to point B.
Crafting the Individualized Education Plan
When crafting the IEP, consider the following:
What are your student’s biggest struggles? Include academics, motor skills, and life skills.
What is your student’s preferred mode of learning? Visual, audio, kinesthetic? How can you tailor lessons to that learning mode?
Realistically, where is your student today? Where would you like your student to reach? (Be realistic.) Which ONE goal would make the biggest difference in your student’s performance, either in the classroom or in daily life?
The first thing you’ll want to do is take an honest look at where your student is performing. It doesn’t matter how many grade levels behind that may be, just record the level of current performance in each subject. This will give you a realistic picture of where you are.
Second, list any support services that you will need, such as speech, physical, or occupational therapy. This plan is appropriate for students with mild to moderate special needs, as students will severe special needs most likely have been working with a provider since shortly after birth. Also address any life skills you’d like to see addressed.
Create academic goals for your student. Make them realistic, or you’ll be setting both you and your student up for frustration. For example, if he is six grades behind in reading level, aim for growth of two grades per year. You might be surprised and find that you have a ‘jumper’ – a late bloomer who ‘jumps’ six grade levels in one year! Write down your goals, and include strategies for how you will meet them.
Create life skills and support services goals for your student. Write them down, addressing strategies for how you will meet each. For example, ‘Speech Therapy, 30 minutes three times a week’. Some of these skills and goals may seem basic, but when you’ve identified the need and written it down as a goal, you’re more likely to address it!
At the end of the school year, reassess your student to see which strategies worked. Given the informal nature of homeschooling, feel free to continually reassess and alter therapy / strategies as needed. This is one of the perks of the individual attention you can offer at homeschool.
Some homeschooling families are fortunate enough to have speech and occupational therapy services offered through the school. For these families, they have created an IEP with the public school as part of the process for obtaining these services. Oklahoma is not a state, however, that provides educational support services to homeschoolers.
Once you have determined your student’s needs, see if your medical insurance (including state insurance) will cover any of the services. If they will, your family doctor can refer you to a provider. If they will not, you can begin working with your child at home until the situation changes. Check out Speech Therapy for Homeschool and Occupational Therapy in Homeschool for free / frugal therapy ideas.
For some parents, having a special needs child is the impetus to homeschool. For others, it’s a nerve-wracking concern. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, homeschooling a special needs child is an adventure!
With the advent of No Child Left Behind, special needs children both gained and lost in the classroom. There is more advocacy and information, and accommodations are understood and generally more accepted, but there is still much temptation to box students in. Many families are choosing to homeschool because their special needs children’s needs are not being met in the traditional classroom.
It can be very overwhelming to homeschool a special needs child, especially at first. You not only have to plan the academics, but also the therapy and interventions that are required for your child. In some states, the school system will still help with these needs, but Oklahoma is not one of those states. We parents are required to find therapists and cover that cost on our own. It is one of the prices we pay for a lack of legislation and state-mandated testing for homeschoolers.
Getting a Diagnosis & IEP (Individualized Education Plan)
If your child has been in the school system, then he probably has an IEP. Know that it will expire and you cannot get a new one once he’s been pulled to homeschool. Don’t fret over it; just know it. Keep a copy of the IEP paperwork to take to therapists and doctors when seeking assistance. Your therapist will probably do a therapy-specific evaluation, so be sure to keep that paperwork, too. Start a file…
If you are starting from a homeschool environment, your first stop will be the family doctor, who will refer you to one or more therapists. They will do initial evaluations, which you will want to keep on file.
All of this paperwork is your ‘leg to stand on’ should there be any questions about your child’s performance in the future (not likely, but possible). They are helpful in building your case once you reach the upper grades — as your child may need testing accommodations. You are eligible to file for accommodations on tests such as ACT and SAT.
You are the Expert
No one understands your child like you do. You know his likes, dislikes, what bothers him, and what works best. Working with therapists, you can use his strengths and weaknesses to tailor a program specifically toward his needs.
For example, our son loves airplanes and aviation, so we have used many aviation-oriented games for therapy. Because he’s interested in the topic, he puts forth more effort into mastering those difficult tasks.
As parents, you have already spent years teaching your child and learning in which ways he learns best. Equipped with this knowledge, you are prepared to become an individual classroom teacher as well! Knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses will help you to tailor the lesson plan to his needs.
For example, if he has dysgraphia, allow him to orally discuss topics, or teach keyboarding at a younger age. If he has trouble with multiple instructions, provide short, individual directions.
Moving at a New Pace
If your child grasps a concept immediately, feel free to move forward. By the same token, if he’s having trouble understanding something, take as much time as you need. For subjects like math and language arts, a failure to build a strong foundation leads to crumbling academics later on. In a traditional school setting, there is only so much time for each concept, but in the homeschool, you have the freedom and flexibility to take as much time as necessary!
Don’t look at it as your child being six months behind in math. Look at the fact that you are putting in the time to cement a solid foundation. Some children are ‘jumpers,’ meaning they don’t show any academic growth at all for a long time, but then ‘jump’ two or three grade levels over a short period of time. Given a strong foundation, things will eventually click into place! Without that foundation, however, you’re merely building an academic house of cards. Move at your child’s pace…
You are Not Alone
Support for special needs homeschool families comes in many places! Here at Homeschool House, every single one of our leaders has at least one, if not more, special needs children. Feel free to ask us questions, and we’ll do our best to point you in a helpful direction.
There are special needs-specific homeschool conventions, Facebook groups, and even local playgroups (look toward your cities, Tulsa and OKC) for these families.
Most curricula offer ways to tailor toward special needs learners. You may have to call the curriculum publisher directly, but they’re usually amenable to discussing how it can be adapted. The Book Shack can also help you with locating curriculum to fit your child’s learning style.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.