Kids are busy today. I personally don’t know a single person who just goes to school, sits in class, and goes home to relax at the end of the day. Actually, I do know one or two, but they aren’t doing so well grade-wise.
Most of the students today are not only taking classes, some at the college level, but are also involved in tons of extracurricular activities including band, choir, theater, art, and sports. And those are just at school. There are also church and community activities as well as trying to squeeze in a social life between essays and math assignments.
It can be overwhelming – especially if you don’t know how to manage your time.
There are certain tricks to managing your time well. Like anything, they must become something of a habit to really make a good impact on your workload and time. The more disciplined you are with some things, the more relaxed you can be with others.
Write it down!
The first rule of time management is to write down everything you need to do. Get a calendar to fit inside your purse or backpack and take it everywhere. While you’re sitting in homeroom listening to announcements, pull it out and take stock of your daily events. Do you have a paper due tomorrow? How late is practice tonight? Do you need to shop between now and Friday for a cute date outfit?
The list of things to do each day can be a bit overwhelming, but go ahead and list every little thing. There is no greater satisfaction than crossing something off the list – even if it’s something as simple as “sharpen pencils before math test.”
The real crux of time management is to plan ahead. By writing down everything you need to do, you can then start to schedule it out. Write down all of your homework to do tonight and list a few other things you’d like to get done. Don’t forget to include any practices or lessons you might have after school.
Then, look at your list to see about how long each thing will take. Some items like reports and papers might take days or even weeks to complete. The same is true for required reading. Waiting until the last minute on things is what makes us feel so frazzled, so don’t.
If you have a paper due Friday, put it on your list for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, too – not just Thursday. Then you can do a little bit at a time and wrap it up easily by Friday. It can be hard to make yourself plan ahead and actually stick by the plan, but once you get in the habit of it, you’ll see how much easier it is and how much less stress you have. You’ll also have more free time since you’ve balanced your work for the week.
Squeeze it in!
A lot of the homework we have is finishing assignments we started in class or something than can be done in small spurts – like an essay or assigned reading. If you wait for a free hour long block of time, you might be waiting until the weekend.
Instead, take your assignments with you from class to class. When you finish taking notes in science, pull out your math and finish a few problems. Just be sure to put it aside again when the teacher starts talking. While you wait for practice to start, read a few pages of your book. Bored at the library during English? Knock out a few paragraphs on your short story.
Homeroom and the dead time before school or practice starts are also a great time to get work done – just don’t leave something until the last minute anticipating having time to do it. That plan almost always fails. Your goal should be to take home as little busy work as possible. That way you have more time at home to focus on larger assignments and maybe a few emails.
Do the Bad First!
When you get home and sit down with your stack of textbooks and your long list of things to do, tackle the worst assignment first. If you know your math will take you an hour to finish, jump right on it. Sure it might be more fun to finish your picture for art, but save that as a reward. Once the bad stuff is out of the way, you’ll feel less pressure and can whip through the rest of the easy stuff on your list.
The same is true for the weekend. Don’t save your work until Sunday afternoon. Get it done Friday night and put it away again until Monday morning. That way you can enjoy two full days of fun and relaxation.
I hate to say it, but save your social life for last. You can certainly have one, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can finish things without distractions like text messages and phone calls. Turn off your phone and keep off the internet while you’re working. Power through the work and then, when it’s all done, put your books away and see what all you missed in the social arena.
The internet and your phone might be your favorite things to do, and why shouldn’t they be with sites like the Doll Palace, but they also can use up most of your time. If you must take a break while working your list for the day, get up and walk around or do a few jumping jacks. Get a glass of water, but DON’T call a friend or read “just one email.” Before you know it you’ll be all caught up on gossip and completely behind in math – again.