A Lesson from Beta Pictoris b:
My 8-year old son and I were reading a recent article about a planet discovered in our galaxy named Beta Pictoris b. According to the article, this planet is spinning at almost 100,000 kmph at its equator, which (given its enormous size) results in it having only an 8-hour day. My son quizzically began asking questions like “how would I have time to go to school and still get a good night’s sleep?” We had some fun talking about what an 8-hour day would be like. Even at his young age he understands that there are certain things that we must do each day and a finite amount of time in which to do them. As our kids get older, this becomes all the more true as they take on more responsibilities, are involved in more activities and approach the age when they will be out on their own. It is very important that parents help teens learn time management skills.
Why teach teens time management skills?
- The obvious answer is to better prepare them to handle the increased demands upon them. We expect them to take on more responsibilities: challenging courses, part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities, more help around the house, etc. However, we don’t often consider the fact that they may not be equipped to properly balance all of the additional demands upon their time.
- A secondary, but related reason for teaching teens effective time management skills is that these strategies can help alleviate this very stressful period of their lives. We know adolescence can be a period during which young people are susceptible to hormonal mood swings, peer pressure, depression and anxiety. Teens who can more effectively manage their time generally feel more in control of their lives and less stressed out.
- Better time management leads to more free time. Teens still need to be kids and need time to hang out with friends and socialize — this is an important part of their development, though they need learn to balance it with their other obligations.
- As a teen’s productivity increases as a result of better time management, so will his or her self-confidence. They will become more independent and less reliant on you (their parent) to be reminded (or “nagged”) to get things done. They will be better prepared to spread their wings when it comes time to leave the nest.
Time Management Strategies for Teens:
Many of these suggestions may seem to be common sense for us parents, or anyone who has taken a course on time management; however, time management is not a subject that is generally taught in school and kids are often left to figure it out by themselves. Parents will do their teens a great service by discussing time management with them and helping them to understand its importance. Here are just a few time management tips for teens. I welcome your comments (below) on what has worked for you and your teen.
- Take time each week to write out a schedule for the week with ALL tasks that need to be completed.
- Begin with highest priority tasks that must be done at fixed times: e.g., school, job, extra-curricular commitments (sport practice, music lesson, etc.)
- Then plan and block out time for tasks that need to be done, but not necessarily at a fixed time: e.g., homework, study for an upcoming exam, shopping for a gown or suit for the prom, etc.
- Block out some time each week for long term goals, e.g., ACT/SAT preparation, submitting applications for summer job, researching colleges, etc.
- Make sure to leave time (or block it out on your schedule) for fun time with family and friends and a proper night’s sleep.
- Review the schedule (parents and teens) to discuss and work out any potential conflicts (e.g., over use of a shared vehicle).
- Refer to the schedule regularly throughout the week, updating it as needed.
- At the end of each week (or month), look back at all that you’ve accomplished!
To sum it up, learn to live by a schedule. This may sound tedious, and it may take some time to develop this habit, but your teen will find that they will get so much more done and be able to look back at their schedule with pride in how much they have accomplished.
How can you help your teen?
- Help them find a good daily planner and instruct them how to use it. If your teen has a smart phone or computer, you may look into a time management app, instead. Either way, it is imperative that tasks are written down and prioritized, not just committed to memory.
- Walk them through the process a couple times. Help them plan out their week. Ask questions about whether certain tasks need to be broken down or made more specific. Ask about relative priority of tasks. Remind them to think of longer term goals that they should spend time on each week. Get them engaged in the thought process.
- Don’t expect perfection. Make sure you recognize and praise their successes more than you point out their short falls.
- Lead by example. Your teens are more likely to embrace your instructions if they see it them in practice. Make sure that your schedule is under control and allows adequate time to give them the attention and direction that they need and deserve.
- EXTRA CREDIT –
- Get your teen to read a good book on time management. Better yet, read it with them and discuss what you’ve both learned. You can find some excellent suggestions shown to the right in the “Book Picks” section.
- Watch an instructional or fun movie with your teen pertaining to time management and then discuss it with them afterwards (suggestions to the right in the “Movie Picks” section).
I’d like to get your feedback if this post was helpful to you. I’d also like to get any additional ideas that have worked for you. Please leave your comments below.
Till next time, enjoy your kids and make the most of every day!