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Understanding Brain Injury Organization Skills and How to Improve Them

tired woman lying in a pile of work struggling with brain injury organization skills

Organization skills are necessary for a person to live independently. Unfortunately, a brain injury can severely impair your ability to be organized.

Today you will discover how a brain injury affects organizational skills. Then, we will show you some helpful ways to become more organized.

Let’s begin.

Organization Skills After Brain Injury

Organizational skills are crucial for everyday life. They are what allow us to manage a job, maintain relationships, and remember important appointments.

Organization skills require the ability to:

  • Concentrate
  • Remember
  • Gather and sort information
  • Prioritize
  • Think ahead and plan accordingly

These skills and others make up a group of abilities known as executive functions.

The frontal lobe helps control executive functions. Therefore, if damage to the frontal lobe occurs, a person will struggle with many of these skills, including the ability to stay organized.

Symptoms of Poor Organization Skills

woman looking confused because she has poor brain injury organization skills

Some signs that you may be struggling with poor organizational skills include:

  • Difficulty starting or finishing a task
  • Putting off work or assignments until the very last minute
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor time management
  • Difficulty working on more than one thing at a time

Poor organization can also be a symptom of cognitive fatigue after brain injury. Cognitive fatigue means your brain does not have the energy needed to function efficiently.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve your organizational skills.

How to Improve Organization Skills After Brain Injury

Better organizing skills can give you a greater sense of control over your life. This can help reduce stress and depression, which are both common problems after a brain injury.

The following are a few ways to become more organized after TBI.

Create a routine

woman hanging up a calendar to improve her brain injury organization skills

Creating a structured routine is crucial for improving your organization skills.

A routine helps you know “what’s next” without having to come up with something on your own. This minimizes the amount of mental energy you must spend and gives you more strength to tackle certain tasks.

Having a routine also helps make a new task or behavior habitual, which will once again lessen the amount of strain on your brain.

You should work with someone to help you plan your day in a productive manner. This can give you something concrete to look forward to and will help reduce anxiety and stress.

Make sure the schedule is realistic and doesn’t include so many activities that you become fatigued. It may take a few tries before you find the right balance.

For example, if you get more tired in the afternoon, plan to do the most demanding activities in the morning, when you have the most energy.

Write it down

Memory issues can also make organizing your day more difficult. That’s why it’s important to write everything down.

It helps to keep a whiteboard or a calendar somewhere visible where you can easily find it. Write down – or have a caregiver write down – all the appointments and activities planned for the day. When you complete something on the list, cross it off.

This can give you a sense of accomplishment and make organizing your day more enjoyable.

Minimize distractions

When trying to finish a task, the best approach is to minimize distractions as much as possible.

This might look different for each person. For example, if someone is easily distracted by noise, they might need to work in their own quiet room. If that is not possible, wearing noise-canceling headphones might be a good alternative.

Some people can tolerate noise, but the internet provides them an endless source of distraction. Fortunately, there are computer programs you can download that can block access to certain websites during work hours.

Whatever your particular distraction is, try to identify ways to eliminate them. The more focused you are, the better organized you can become.

Cognitive Therapy

close up of hand holding white puzzle piece

Cognitive exercises are a great way to help you improve your mental organization.

One excellent exercise to improve organizational skills is called task sequencing.

To practice task sequencing, have someone else write down the steps to complete a certain activity, such as going to the park. But make sure that these steps are not in the correct order.

For example, they might right down the steps to look like:

  • Ride bus
  • Find address to the park
  • Get off at the second stop
  • Look up the bus schedule and stops
  • Walk to the bus station

Your job is to rearrange the steps until they are in the correct order.

As you improve your skills, you can work on more complicated tasks, such as preparing a meal. Finally, you can try writing the steps down on your own.

This exercise can teach how to organize your thoughts and think through a problem clearly.

Brain Injury Organization Skills

Organizing and planning can be much more difficult after a brain injury. But that does not make it impossible.

With the right strategies and techniques, you can begin to take back control of your life again. Try to remember to stay patient with yourself though. Even with the perfect strategy, it can take some time before you see improvement.

But with enough practice, you can help your brain rewire itself and regain the organization skills you might have lost.

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