Some weeks it seems like we don’t have nearly enough time to accomplish things! Your high schooler may feel the same way, and when they’re stressed about upcoming tests and losing track of assignments in their messy backpacks, their grades can suffer. This is why teaching them time management for teens is crucial.
Benefits of Time Management for Teens
Mastering time management for teens comes with a lot of benefits. Here are some of them:
- They will become more responsible and independent.
- They will have more time to hang out with family and friends.
- They won’t get very anxious if there is an approaching deadline or there is an upcoming test.
- They will perform better at school.
- They will be an expert on decision-making.
Time Management for Teens: 13 Useful Tips
1. Map out the weeks
What did you accomplish last week?
What will you accomplish this week?
Even as full-grown adults, the majority of us can’t answer these questions with bullet-points, but we should be able to!
This is the idea behind SMART goal development, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-based.
Take some time every Sunday to sit down with your child and discuss the upcoming week.
Make a list of things that fall into the following categories:
- Need to get done (These can sometimes be called “Bottlenecks” — things that need to get done right away)
- Would like to get done (Things that can wait a bit longer)
- Want to do (Recreational things like hanging out with friends or watching TV)
Then have them write out Monday – Friday and note the amount of hours they have for each. There should be a start and end time for every day. Help them place the different tasks based on priority and time.
2. Use Calendar Updates
If we offered you $500 to correctly guess what your child was doing at this very moment, “checking their phone” is probably your best bet.
In today’s world, kids are practically glued to their phones, but this dependency can be used to their advantage.
Calendar updates are great for everyone. We have them, you have them, and your child can use them to stay on track for school.
If your child never uses their calendar, help them find it on their device and show them how to set up alerts. They should make a habit of adding assignments and upcoming exams into their calendar from their planner every night.
3. Break big tasks into smaller ones
When we have a large, time-consuming task to complete, we tend to put it off because we don’t really know where to start and feel overwhelmed.
When your bathroom looks like a war-zone it may drive you crazy to look at, but you’re running late for work so you just close the door… then when you get home from work, you’re tired and you want to relax so you say you’ll do it tomorrow.
“Cleaning the bathroom” can seem like a simple task, but what does it really entail?
- Cleaning the grout
- Washing the rug
- Sanitizing the counter
- Mopping the floor
- Putting everything away
- Emptying the garbage…
No wonder you can’t get around to “simply” cleaning the bathroom, because it’s not simple! You have to break it into smaller, less-intimidating tasks and then check them off one by one.
Show your child how to do this. Have them write the big task at the top, and then break it down into littler tasks. Turn these smaller tasks into a checklist that they can follow.
4. Prep for school the night BEFORE
Ever stay up at night going over the things you have to do the next day?
“It’s flu season… when am I going to schedule that doctor’s appointment?”
“Do I have any clean clothes to wear tomorrow?”
Your teen may be losing sleep trying to keep track of everything they’ll need for school the next day. They may be skipping breakfast or not packing a lunch because they don’t have enough time in the mornings.
Help your child get into the habit of packing their lunch the night before school and show them which foods make a healthy lunch so they get the proper nutrition to enhance their academic performance.
Remind them to put everything they need to take with them in one pile so they don’t have to check again in the morning.
It may sound silly, but for students who don’t wear uniforms, deciding on something to wear the morning of school can be a time-sucker.
A great life hack for this is to check the weather report for the following day so they can get a better idea of how they should dress.
5. Have a place for everything
It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a home. Keeping your life organized means keeping your things in their proper places. Organized people keep order by storing things properly and by labeling storage spaces.
Have you seen your kid’s backpack lately? What about their room?
Teens can be messy and disorganized. They’re not quite at the stage in their life where they understand the importance of keeping things in order, but this doesn’t mean it won’t significantly improve their day-to-day activities if they can learn!
Ways to organize your child’s space:
- Help them sort through their stuff and place it in categories
- Ask them to find a place for each category of things to go
- Show them how to use a label-maker for drawers and shelves
- Remind them to return things to their proper place
This “Teacher Toolbox” by Create Teach Share is a great example, but you don’t have to stop at school supplies.
6. Time yourself
Here at Student-Tutor, our entire team uses Toggl to develop better time management skills.
How will time-tracking help my student?
If you’re after meaningful hours, you have to rethink the relationship between work and time. That relationship is fluid.
Encourage your child to pick a time-tracking method that suits them and stick to it.
When they get a sense of how long things REALLY take versus how long they THINK they take, they’ll increase their overall productivity and utilize their newly instated time management skills towards existing projects.
7. Use Google Docs
Imagine you’re doing your taxes online. You’re a quarter of the way done when your screen goes black. You tap the mouse but it doesn’t come back on and… your computer is dead.
Maaaybe some of it is auto-saved, but what about the rest of the work you just did?
Our beloved technology is not as secure as we may think.
USB’s, for example. You may not realize that a USB is predetermined to self-destruct at any given point in it’s existence, with no warning at all. Phones and computers die.
Your student can lose a 5-page research paper if they don’t have it saved at an inopportune time of reckoning.
Introduce your student to Google Docs so they will never lose another assignment.
If you’re new to Google Docs, it comes with Gmail, and saves your work in real-time. When your kid’s computer dies on them, they can hop right on a separate computer or plug their’s into a charger and pick up right where they left off!
8. Encourage them to use a planner
An excellent way of teaching time management for teens is by having them use a planner. They can do it the traditional way by writing in a journal/notebook or they can save up some bag space by downloading digital planner apps.
Here are some of the top apps they can use to map out their schedule:
- School Planner
- Microsoft To Do
- Time Planner
- Power Planner
If you want to read a comprehensive review of all these apps, head over to our article on 11 best planner apps for students.
9. Avoid nagging your teen
You may be wondering why we included this odd advice. But truth be told, nagging your teen has a big impact on their productivity. How?
By constantly telling them or reminding them of the things they need to accomplish, their sense of responsibility is reduced and they’ll consider their tasks as meaningless chores.
A good thing to do to teach time management for teens is to tell them the consequences of their actions but only when necessary. Let them handle their time on their own for them to be more independent. This will also boost your teen’s confidence because they will feel like you trust them enough to let them do things on their own.
10. Limit their electronic usage
Using electronic gadgets is one of the top causes of distraction for students. It doesn’t help in teaching time management for teens and even lowers the chances of getting a high score in the ACT or SAT or receiving a merit scholarship. Hours spent scrolling on Facebook or tweeting is valuable and can be used in accomplishing more important tasks like a research paper deadline or a critique paper for a literary work.
What we would suggest is you establish rules at home regarding the use of the internet, phones, computer, and other technological distractions. Set a time limit if necessary. Do this for a few months and your child will eventually adjust their time with their gadgets even without you reminding them.
11. Identify their productive period
We all have a certain time of the day when we feel most productive. Maybe it is during the early morning, during the afternoon, or before we go to bed. Now, how can your teen use this to her advantage?
First, you have to ask your teen to observe herself. When does she feel excited to do her tasks? When do the ideas on her brain seem to flow more clearly? When does she accomplish more?
Once your teen already has an answer, have her schedule the tasks she needs to prioritize at the exact time where she feels most productive. This way she won’t feel asleep or she won’t get bored with finishing what needs to be done.
Here are some articles by Student-tutor that may help her accomplish more tasks:
- How to Write a Good Essay | The Ultimate Guide
- How to Write a Research Paper in 11 Easy Steps
- Top 21 Math Websites for High Schoolers and Kids
12. Teach them to start early
The reason why most students fail is that they love to procrastinate. Their common argument goes like this: the paper is due next week so I’m going to do it the day before submission.
This kind of attitude carves an easy path to failure!
So, what should you do to teach time management for teens and have them walk away from procrastination?
Have a serious talk with them and share some experiences that will teach them a lesson about time management. Instill on their minds that what can be done today should be done today.
13. Help them manage their commitments
We have encountered a lot of teens who are having trouble with their school works simply because they do not know how to prioritize things. They commit to too many things at once that’s why they are left with very little time to accomplish their academic requirements.
Well, here’s some piece of truth: we aren’t superhumans! We can only manage so much at a given time. Therefore, we should let go of the meaningless commitments we make in order to give time to what is more important.
Conclusion: Time Management for Teens
Staying organized and on track is something a lot of teens struggle with, but if they can make a habit out of these 13 time management techniques, they will feel more confident, less stressed, and perform better in their academics overall.
As a parent, helping guide your student in the right direction towards cultivating better time management skills will ultimately pay off.
Once they get the hang of things, they will be able to see and experience the benefits for themselves, and you won’t have to keep reminding them!
Do you or your student use any time management techniques or time management tools that we didn’t list above? Tell us about them in the comments below!