Time Management Tips for Teens

November 15, 2011

Time Management Tips for Teens

[caption id="attachment_697" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo courtesy of dan"][/caption] As a community college teacher, many of the students I teach each semester represent untapped talent. What do I mean by this? With a few, notable, exceptions, the student population of most community colleges represents those teens and young adults who can succeed in school, but haven’t yet. Basically, those whose high school transcripts are less-than-perfect or who those who rebelled against the “institution” of higher learning at 18 only to find that a lifetime of minimum wage employment was far from their ideal. Among this untapped talent exists two sub-groups – those with time management skills and those without them. As a young teacher, a lot of my pedagogical training focused on the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Successful college students, theory states, were those with the later. I see time management as an extension of intrinsic motivation and one of the life skills most lacking in many young people today. The End of Excuses We all have a lot to do – personally, I have two children under age 4, teach at two different schools, write professionally, maintain (i.e. clean) a 2,000+ square foot home, cook most meals and somehow find time to make my marriage work. My students would tell me that I’m “special” in my ability to do these things, that they are not as able or as smart or as savvy as I am. I appreciate those compliments, but I would wager a guess that most successful professionals can balance all these activities and more because of one, simple life skill: time management. As educators we sometimes gloss over life skills with older students in favor of focusing on the important (read: testable) skills for our respective subjects. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading a paper devoid of run-on sentences and that correctly distinguishes between the plural and the possessive as much as the next writing teacher, but, for me, the ability to manage these skills is far more important than the skills themselves. With time management, good grammar (or quadratic equations) will follow. Therefore, we need to focus on the end of excuses and the beginning of balance in life and in school. Four Ways to Reinforce Time Management with Teens It is my sincere belief that time management skills need to be more embedded in the everyday education of teens and tweens. At the same time that the academic load picks up, so too should the emphasis on the life skills each student can use to ensure that all this work gets completed, without sacrificing the other essentials of adolescent life.  The following four tips can help young students master time management:
  1. Organization: The Power of a “To Do List” I live and die by my “To Do” list. For teens managing several classes, extracurricular activities and family obligations, the simple act of writing each week’s tasks down can make major headway into their completion. I like to use checkboxes that allow me to monitor progress, and feel a sense of accomplishment each day. I have found that the more I use the “To Do” list, the more valuable a tool it becomes since over time I have begun to intrinsically understand how long each task takes.
  2. Goal Setting: Have an End Game in Sight As a college athlete (swimming), my coach began every season with goal sheets. This practice helped him as well as us. Not everyone could go to nationals, but they could strive for personal bests. Setting clear and realistic goals gives teens the chance to see an end game and strive for it regardless of what is going on with others. These goals can be simple, such as “Pass Calc. I” or more complex, such as get into XXX College.
  3. Learning Styles: Know What Works for the Individual Schools teach to the collective. As educators, we often have too many students to serve each alone, so we cater to norms and trends. The individual teen does not need to do that, however, and taking the time to learn how he learns can make all the difference in academic success and proper time management. It’s a waste of time for an auditory learner to make flash cards, for example, if recording a lecture will be a more effective review.
  4. Other Life Skills: The Importance of Eating and Sleeping Finally, teens need to keep in mind the importance of some of our more basic needs: eating and sleeping. As teachers, we need to be aware of the effects that lack of either can have on students and address problems if we see them – referring students to counselors when necessary. Proper time management needs to account for all of life’s necessities.




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