Everyone’s day is only 24 hours. Yet somehow certain people seem to be able to squeeze more from that time than others. Successful people aren’t successful by accident. They have spent time thinking about the best ways to move forward and plan their work. And they have built up the courage to go through with their plans, even if those plans might fail, and to work their plan.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
– Thomas Edison
In Part 1 of the blog, we discussed the first three time management tips for middle school students in Missouri and Kansas: having time management tools (like a planner), writing down the schedule, and prioritizing activities. Here are the remaining important tips:
- Developing routines. Encourage your teen to establish healthy habits like waking up at the same time every morning or doing chores right after school. Once she gets into the routine of doing things in a certain order, she won’t have to waste time thinking about what to do next.
- Limiting electronics. We can all waste countless hours on social media or playing video games if we’re not careful. Try setting a structured “devices-off” family time on a daily or weekly basis. Having a regular opportunity for digital detox for everyone in the family allows the time “on” to be more productive.Create natural boundaries such as not texting after a certain time at night and requiring phones to be on chargers outside the bedroom. Have your teen think about what strategies make her more productive and focused when working such as putting her phone on silent in the other room or turning off notifications on a smartwatch if she wears one.
- Setting goals. Encourage your teen to identify personal goals she wants to reach. Ask her to dream about how she would spend all the extra hours she’ll gain by being more organized. Then help her identify how much time she wants to work on that goal each day; for example, whether she wants to exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week or do volunteer work for a nonprofit. Goal setting is a great way to stay motivated!
- Reflecting. Even with the best of intentions, we all have those weeks where it feels like everything has fallen apart. It’s easy to be overly optimistic about how much you can get done. There will be times when your teen is going to miscalculate how long a project will take or days when she forgets a deadline. It happens. Work with her to set up a weekly half-hour to reflect, go through the backpack, organize the desktop, and plan out the week ahead. Ask her what strategies worked well last week and what she would like to improve in the coming week. Help her learn to adapt and adjust her schedule in the future.
Be the Change You Want to See
Model time management yourself. Your teen watches what you do. If you are always running late, missing deadlines, or struggling with managing technology use, your teen will too. We can’t assume teenagers, who are dealing with hormones, distractions, and daily stresses, should somehow be any better at self-discipline. Practice managing your own time and show him you can accomplish the most important tasks in your day. You can even show him your planner or calendar or ask him for suggestions about how you should deal with various big projects and potential conflicts coming up.
While it can be tempting to nag your teen or offer repeat reminders, this reduces his responsibility. Set rules about your expectations and follow through with consequences when it’s necessary. Then, your teen can learn to manage his time better in the future.
- Having time management tools.
- Writing down the schedule.
- Prioritizing activities.
- Developing routines.
- Limiting electronics.
- Setting goals.
Time management skills for middle school and high school students takes time and parental support to build. They need to be learned, practiced, and relearned as our values and priorities change. Joplin and area middle school students at Compass Academy Network’s summer program practice these time management skills by “planning their work and working their plan.” Our students are prepared to return to their classrooms in the fall energized for learning and equipped with new academic and study skills. Encouraging these seven habits can promote lasting success for middle schoolers and provide them with a clearer vision toward their future.