The ability to manage time is a vital skill for success in school, work, and life in general. To accomplish things efficiently and on time, you need to plan and organize your time effectively.
Teenagers, in particular, are learning for the first time how to manage their time at this stage in their lives. They are juggling school, extracurricular activities, and social obligations. Because of this, it can be challenging to make time for everything.
The fact that nearly half of high school students admit to being stressed almost every day at school is concerning. Among the culprits is the difficulty of balancing several activities simultaneously, as you probably already know.
The good news? Teaching time management skills to your children and teens can be as easy as following these tips:
1. Encourage them to develop a routine.
Predictability and familiarity contribute to children’s feelings of confidence and security. Having a consistent daily schedule and following step-by-step routines facilitates children’s ability to predict their days while giving them a sense of control. Routines can help them stay productive, organized, and on track as well.
Basically, teens need routines. Teenagers are used to a lot of freedom and may find it hard to adhere to a routine, at first.
The following tips will help teens establish a daily routine:
- Start small. It’s not a good idea to overhaul your teen’s schedule all at once. Every week, add one or two new things to their routine. It’ll be less overwhelming and easier for them to stick to.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, so they should prepared to adjust. Maybe your teen needs to sleep in a little later the following day after a late night of homework.
- Make it fun. It’s less likely your teen will stick to a routine if they don’t enjoy it. Incorporate their hobbies or interests to make it fun and engaging.
- Get their input. Get your teen’s input on their routine. Having a say in their routine and plans makes them more likely to follow it. Your teen will know what will work best for them and have fantastic, forward-thinking input. You want that!
- Be positive and supportive. You need to be positive and supportive when your teen struggles to stay committed to his or her routine. You don’t have to nag them or criticize them. Instead, encourage them and help them figure it out. It helps to say, “It’s your turn for dinner dishes, I’ll do that for you while you get started on such and such.”
Here are some additional tips that may be helpful:
- Make your teen’s day a little easier by breaking it down into smaller tasks. As a result, it’ll seem less overwhelming and manageable.
- Put together a visual schedule or checklist that your teen can use.
- Make sure your teen sticks to their routine with positive reinforcement.
- Be understanding and patient. After all, developing one’s own routine takes time.
Your teen can benefit from a routine for years with little effort.
The following are some specific routines you can help your teen develop:
- Morning routine. A morning routine could include getting up every day at the same time, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and packing their backpack — maybe packing a lunch.
- After-school routine. Spend some time doing homework, taking a break, practicing a sport, or getting ready for bed.
- Weekend routine. Taking care of chores, meeting with friends, and relaxing could all be part of this routine.
Depending on your teen’s interests and needs, you’ll want to include specific activities in their routine. You just need to ensure they have a consistent routine and help them stay on track. Any participation in a school sport, musical instrument, or club helps to teach all of these principles — sometimes better than a parent can teach it.
2. Make sure they write down everything.
What is the easiest way to reduce stress and overwhelming feelings? A pencil and paper, or a tablet or laptop, if your child prefers technology. Early in the secondary school years, this is particularly true.
Children are encouraged to purge all the to-do lists, tasks, and ideas from their minds onto paper in a process known as cognitive offloading. In turn, this reduces the mental load. Checking off the jobs they produce gives them a positive dopamine boost. And it also empowers them with the confidence to tackle more challenging tasks in the future.
3. Identify barriers and help them overcome them.
Teenagers often face these barriers – which can be true for multiple people. Some of the most common include:
Social media and electronics (especially phones and computers are usually the culprits. You can help your child handle these distractions with these tips.
- Suggest they take a break from studying. Getting more done can be accomplished by dividing study time into shorter periods.
- They can block certain apps and games on their cell phones or computers.
- Use white noise or soft music to drown out the noise.
- Have them keep their smartphones elsewhere. Consider a central spot for all devices in the family.
- Set up a work environment so they can learn in the way they prefer. Visual learners, for example, might like Post-its and other items handy to doodle and draw on. It’s often better for social learners to complete tasks in groups. Nonetheless, everyone must learn to work how “the boss” says it will be done. It’s beneficial to present that fact of life to teens and young children early in their school careers.
Overscheduling and overcommitting.
The temptation is to say “yes” to everything without thinking about the time it’ll take. Here are some tips to help your child avoid it:
- Teach them how to say “no” to extra tasks or more activities.
- Set up a weekly schedule. Recommend reviewing it every day and making a to-do list every day.
- Prioritize what’s most relevant. Have them check out the Eisenhower Matrix, a tool for prioritizing tasks.
- Have them schedule free time. And, more importantly, make sure they stick to it.
- Set up reminders or notifications with apps. Staying on track is easier with technology. With reminders already set, you can focus on more important stuff.
- Work on estimating how long each task will take. There’s a tendency to think things take less time than they do, which causes stress and missed deadlines. That’s why they should time themselves. There are quite a few options available to your student. A good app for high school students is Llama Life. Another time management method is the Pomodoro Technique.
For many, the most challenging part is starting. In addition to creating stress, procrastinating can take a lot of time. Thankfully, they can fix it by:
- Make sure your teen understands why it’s hard to start. Is it because they think it’s too hard? Are they afraid of failure or lack self-confidence? Is perfectionism or anxiety paralyzing them?
- Take big tasks and break them down into smaller ones. A daunting project feels more manageable this way.
- Think about two different ways to do things. First, tackle the most important or challenging tasks. If you finish these early, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate. Second strategy: Start with something easy. As a result, they’ll gain self-confidence and believe you can do anything.
- Use rewards to motivate them. Maybe they get to spend 15 minutes on a favorite activity after completing a task, spend time with friends, play a game — or even buy a reward like a new book or outfit after a month.
- Set artificial deadlines. Before the actual deadline, this allows for some procrastination.
4. Find out when they’re most productive and help them to maximize it.
Some people are most productive first thing in the morning, and others are not. Some people are most productive late at night or right before bed. It seems that whether your kid is a morning person or not — those who get up and face the day have a better life and get more done.
Point this out to your teen — have them look for examples of this principle around your neighborhood and city. This world operates with morning people, and they will succeed better by adapting to that. When they have everything set up in their lives, and things run smoothly in a career — they can switch around if they wish to.
Let your teen figure out when they’re most productive and how to use this to their advantage.
Getting to know someone’s productivity is as simple as asking them. You may want to ask them what time of day they feel most alert and focused and when they tend to perform their best. You can track their productivity over time if you can’t directly ask them. A time-tracking app can track their progress or when tasks are completed.
If you know when a person is most productive, you can tailor a schedule accordingly. For example, your child might want to schedule important tasks during the most effective times of the day and avoid scheduling them during their least productive times.
5. Organize peer support groups.
It’s not uncommon for kids to overestimate their memory abilities, so they might resist writing down anything they learn in class. For that reason, get your child’s classmates’ names and numbers so they can contact them if they are absent or have questions.
Some students may benefit from regular teacher check-ins to ensure they understand the lesson content or assignments. Having external support and accountability can assist kids in focusing and succeeding. Do not shame your child for needing help; instead, help them learn how to reach out for support.
6. Don’t be a helicopter parent.
You may be tempted to nag or remind your teen repeatedly. However, when you tell your teen to do their chores or homework over and over again — it reduces their accountability.
Instead, you should set clear expectations and enforce consequences when necessary.
7. Provide them with a place to put everything.
It is not uncommon for teens to be disorganized and messy. After all, their lives aren’t quite at the point where they understand the value of organization. However, if they learned it, it would significantly improve their day-to-day activities.
Your child’s space can be organized in the following ways:
- Assist them with sorting and categorizing their stuff.
- Each category should be assigned a place.
- Label drawers and shelves with a label maker.
- It is important to remind them to return things to the right place.
8. Let them play games.
“I’m not going to gloss over the risks involved with excessive video game playing,” Deanna Ritchie writes in a previous Calendar article. It may cause anxiety, sleep problems, and obesity in children. Additionally, aggression, desensitization, and cyberbullying should be considered.
“However, since children do learn what they see on a screen, there are also benefits to playing video games,” Deanna adds. Playing games such as Just Dance promotes physical activity. It is also possible to promote critical thinking and prosocial skills through video games, while cognitive development can occur through “brain games.”
Instead of banning video games, establish boundaries at home, she suggests. Set a time and length for when they can play. You can also ask your teen about the game before you buy it by reading reviews. You can also make this a family event, like having weekly game nights.
“But you don’t just need video games to practice gamification.” Assume they’re overwhelmed with math homework. Provide them with a timeframe for completing each section of the assignment. By doing so, they “level up.”
9. Keep a family calendar handy for important dates.
As a family, sharing a physical or digital calendar can help promote shared accountability. Children can benefit from being reminded of critical due dates and upcoming events by their parents, siblings, and other caregivers.
Again, time management can be more enjoyable by checking things off on a wall calendar rather than on a digital reminder.
10. Organize a weekly re-grouping session.
Despite our best intentions, there are always those weeks when things seem to go wrong.
You can counter this by planning ahead. For example, set aside a time each week for your teen to regroup. You might want to plan ahead for the upcoming week and tackle anything left over from the previous week on Sunday afternoon.
Regardless of the situation, encourage your child to take some time to organize and figure out what to do.
It can be difficult for kids and teens to stay organized and on track. However, they will feel more confident, have less stress, and do better in school if they adopt these 10 time management techniques.
It will ultimately pay off for you as a parent to guide your student toward cultivating better time management skills. Eventually, they will be able to see and experience the benefits themselves, so you won’t need to remind them over and over again.
What are the benefits of teaching time management skills to kids and teens?
Kids and teens can benefit from time management skills in many ways, including:
- Become more organized and productive
- Ensure deadlines are met
- Put an end to stress and procrastination
- Achieve goals by setting them
- Utilize their time more effectively
- Enjoy having more free time
How can I start teaching time management skills to my kids?
To help your kids learn time management skills, here are some tips:
- Start early. Start teaching time management skills as soon as possible. Making a to-do list and setting goals can even be taught to young children.
- Be a role model. A child learns by watching the adults in his or her life. Managing your own time effectively will set a good example for others.
- Break down tasks. There can be a sense of overwhelm and dauntingness when it comes to large tasks. Your child should be able to break them down into smaller, more manageable steps with your help.
- Set realistic goals. Do not expect your child to master time management overnight. As they learn and practice, gradually increase the difficulty of their goals.
- Be patient and supportive. Time management takes practice and time. Offer your child patience and support as they go through this process.
What are some specific time management strategies that I can teach my kids?
Some ideas are as follows:
- Create a daily schedule. As a result, your child will know what he or she needs to do and when it needs to be done.
- Use a to-do list. Keeping track of your child’s progress will help them stay organized.
- Set deadlines for themselves. Their time will be better managed and prioritized as a result.
- Take breaks. To avoid getting overwhelmed, take breaks throughout the day.
- Avoid distractions. To accomplish this, you must turn off your electronic devices and find a quiet place to work.
- Learn to say no. When requests will consume too much of your time, it’s okay to decline.
What are some common mistakes that parents make when teaching time management skills?
The following are some common mistakes:
- Expecting too much too soon. Learning how to manage time effectively takes time and practice. Be patient with your child, and don’t expect perfection overnight.
- Being too critical. Too much criticism may discourage your child and lead to him or her giving up. Encouragement and positive reinforcement should be the focus.
- Nagging. You won’t get your child to cooperate if you ride him or her. If they need help or support, offer it to them.
- Not setting a good example. Children are less likely to learn time management skills from their parents if they don’t see their parents managing their own time effectively. By being organized and productive, you’ll be setting a good example.
Image Credit: George Dolgikh; Pexels