S2.01 - Self-Scheduling

Self-scheduling provides a consumer with a method of 1) selecting what he or she wants to do in advance of doing it, and 2) scheduling the time and day for the activity to occur (Bambara & Koger, 1996). It can be a useful self-management strategy to facilitate the accomplishment of short or long-term goals. Bambara and Ager (1992) point to three advantages of self-scheduling as a self-management strategy: 1) it increases consumer choices in activities and activity times, 2) it allows for choice-making of future activities, and 3) it can act as an antecedent stimuli that cues specific behaviors and reduces reliance on others for those cues. Self-scheduling is a powerful self-management strategy that increases consumer choice and contributes to the development of self-determination skills.

Bambara and Koger (1996) provide suggestions for training self-scheduling. These steps are described below.

Step 1: Prepare for scheduling

This step really has two components. The first component is figuring out what time periods need to be scheduled. The second component is finding the easiest way to represent the activity on a schedule or calendar. For some people, a written schedule is fine. Others may prefer to have a picture or symbol represent the activity. For example, if a consumer leaves for work at 7:00 a.m., his or her schedule might have a picture of a bus at 7:00 a.m. or there might be a written statement, “Catch the bus for work”. It does not matter what is used to represent the activity (e.g., photograph, drawing, symbol) on the calendar as long as the consumer understands what the representation means.

When identifying time periods to schedule, look for large time slots that are open. This might include times after work or on weekends. Do not attempt to schedule every moment of the day. It is better to start out concentrating on getting one or two things done each week rather than staying on a strict schedule during every moment of the day.

Step 2: Create a schedule

The facilitator should help the consumer create a schedule that provides a visual display of at least one week in time. A photo album can be used to create a picture book type of schedule. Wall charts can be made out of poster board. Alternatively, large activity planners can be used to post and schedule activities. Once the method of displaying activities is decided upon, the consumer will need to:

Step 3: Follow the schedule

The facilitator should encourage the consumer to make a public commitment to follow the schedule. The consumer might post the calendar in a location that encourages others to notice the schedule. The facilitator should assist the consumer to:

The consumer should identify someone that can help them remember to look at the calendar frequently. This could be a friend, family member, or colleague. This person might also discuss the schedule and help the consumer review his or her schedule frequently. Ideally, the consumer will initiate the activity that has been scheduled but following a schedule or not following one is still a consumer choice.

Step 4: Review and revise the schedule as needed

The final step in self-scheduling is to review and revise the schedule. The facilitator should help the consumer review their schedule. What scheduled activities were completed and what activities were not completed? Did the schedule allow sufficient time for each activity? Activities might be removed, added, or put in different time slots.



Page updated 10/13/06

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Web Resources

Learning Power Online. (n.d.). Time Management: To do list overview. Retrieved October 11, 2004, from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Academic Support Center Website: http://www.rit.edu/~369www/college_programs/Ing_pwr/tm_ws_to_do_lists.htm

Mind Tools. (1995-2004). Effective scheduling: Planning to make the best use of your time. In MindTools: Essential skills for an excellent career. Retrieved October 11, 2004 from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_07.htm

Tucker-Ladd, C. E. (1996). Methods for developing skills: Time management. In Psychological self-help (chapter 13) [Electronic version]. Retrieved August 19, 2004, from http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap13/chap13q.htm


Bambara, L. M., & Ager, C. (1992). Using self-scheduling to promote self-directed leisure activity in home and community settings. The Journal of The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 17(2), 67-76. San Francisco, CA :The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (JASH).

Bambara, L., & Cole, C. L. (1997). Permanent antecedent prompts. In M. Agran,Student directed learning: Teaching self-determination skills (pp. 111-143). Detroit, MI: Brooks/Cole.

Bambara, L. M., & Koger, F. (1996). Self-scheduling as a choice-making strategy. In D. Browder (Ed.), Innovations: Opportunities for daily choice making (pp. 33-41). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.

Hughes, C., & Presley, J. A. (1998). Self-management and self-instruction: The benefits of student involvement in individualized education program implementation. In M. L. Wehmeyer & D. J. Sands (Eds.), Making it happen: Student involvement in educational planning, decision making, and instruction (pp. 329-354). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Murphy, S. E., & Ensher, E. A. (2001). The role of mentoring support and self-management strategies on reported career outcomes. Journal of Career Development, 27(4), 229-246.

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