A student’s life is very full. Much of the day is spent at school, but there’s a lot to fit in after the bell rings too—like studying, homework, extracurricular activities, dinner and sleep. A time management system is essential so that children can make the most of every hour and fit in everything they want and need to do. What exactly should that system entail? Here are six important components:
- Commitment – It probably goes without saying, but it’s vital that your child commits to owning responsibilities and planning his or her time responsibly. Without that sincere commitment, any effort by your child to take control of his or her day and many tasks will simply fall flat.
- A planner – A planner is a must for any student. Your child should use it to write down all daily assignments, dates for tests, quizzes and projects due, as well as any other commitments such as scheduled work or volunteer hours, sports practices, club meetings, performances or games.
- A structured schedule – Have your child block out all scheduled time on the calendar in his or her day planner, including school hours, sports practices or other activities, sleeping, eating dinner and winding down. An hourly schedule in the planner helps your child visualize his or her time and get a clear picture of what time is and isn’t free or flexible. It’s a good idea to hang a family calendar in a central spot in your home as well.
- A running list of goals – Goal setting is so important and goes hand in hand with time management. Encourage your child to keep a list of short-term and long-term goals and refer to it (and revise it) often. Short-term goals might focus on your child’s current classes while long-term goals can be bigger and contain multiple smaller goals. For example, the college-bound teen might want to get into his or her dream college, but there will be many small sub-goals to achieve to get there.
- Prioritization skills – Good time management is about much more than keeping an organized calendar and list of goals. As early as possible, teach your child to spend a few minutes at the beginning of homework time looking over his or her planner and labeling all tasks to be completed today, tomorrow, this week or later. That prioritization process helps your child get focused and mentally prepared to get to work.
- To-do lists – Last but not least, it’s critical that your child break things down to the specific tasks that he or she must complete each day. The planner serves as a master to-do list, keeping track of everything your child has coming up on the homework/test/quiz front. But after prioritizing at the start of a homework session, your child should develop a game plan: a to-do list for the evening that guides the homework session. Your child should write or print out that list and check things off as completed.
Teach your child to own his or her time and not be owned by it. A trusted time management system will minimize stress and wasted time, boost productivity, and set your child up for school and life success.