You would think that in our age of advancing technology, scheduling and time management would now be easier than ever. But some of us might admit that we sometimes long for the good old days of paper calendars and physical planners—it just seemed so much simpler. Indeed, even with Google calendar and the myriad other ways to create virtual schedules and stay focused on important tasks, the busy student and parent are still faced with the challenge of keeping itineraries straight and keeping priorities at the top of the list. From sports to tutoring to clubs to college visits, the list of stuff students do these days goes on and on. So, with young folks’ incredibly busy lives, how can we help them to stay on point? Below, we offer some tips for keeping time management simple.
List It: To-do lists might sound old school, but there is something to be said for getting things done and crossing them off your list; if nothing else, it’s a good feeling. If you’re tech-savvy, however, and not ready to go back in time, there are, of course, tons of to-do list apps: try Wunderlist, Google Keep, Any.do, and Remember the Milk for starters. The art of list-making can serve as a way to “keep track, to soothe a tired mind at the end of the day or nagging worries in the middle of the night.” Listing can be a great way to organize and streamline the sometimes seemingly endless amount of stuff on your plate.
Say No: It can be difficult to say “no” to opportunities, especially when every extra-curricular and afterschool activity seems super important for your academic resume or college application. When you stretch yourself too thin, however, one aspect of your life will always be put on the backburner to make room for another, so balance is vitally important. Saying “no” to activities that simply don’t fit into your schedule can not only help you focus on what’s important, but also remove the psychological burden and stress of struggling to make time for something you don’t really have time for. Being flexible yet realistic is key in parceling out your precious time effectively. Saying “no” so you can say “yes” is a vital tactic for productivity.
Sleep Well: By now, the importance of sleep for young people has been well-documented. It is, then, not surprising that most kids and adolescents simply don’t get enough shuteye. Little things like turning off electronics at bedtime, exercising (but not too soon before bed), and avoiding eating sugary treats before going to sleep can help you to get more solid rest which, obviously, will lead to better outcomes in school—like getting work done on time.
Designate Time: Imagine this: for one hour, you leave your phone, iPad, laptop, etc. in a different room. You sit down and focus on homework and assignments for sixty full minutes in a quiet place you’ve chosen. Believe it or not, this is possible. Routines, while seemingly boring, can instill good study habits and structure. Designating a time and place to get work done can be a great exercise in discipline. Not only that, but you’ll feel accomplished and focused—and all those texts and notifications you missed while you were working will be that much more rewarding when your work is done and you are reunited with your technology.
Fight Procrastination: If you’ve ever been “busy procrastinating,” you know the importance of this one. It’s hard for all of us, but, again, it’s something that can be conquered. This doesn’t mean that you have to do all your assignments ages before they’re due, but rather that even getting started a little early on one can save you a lot of headache later. Working on getting started and taking the first step as well as not blowing the task out of proportion can go a long way toward seeing the end of the job.
Overscheduled kids and teens have become the norm nowadays so it is incumbent upon parents, teachers, and tutors to help them balance their extraordinarily busy lives. No one can do everything, but helping our students focus and do well on what they can do is a recipe for balance, discipline, and success.
Written by Phil Lane
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