Time Management Techniques
Study Skills Support
What is Time Management?
Time management is the process of creating an awareness of what needs to be done, prioritizing from among those tasks, and developing a timeline for their completion. In actuality, ‘time management’ is somewhat of a misnomer because time elapses regardless of what we do to manage it. In reality, the only thing that we can manage is ourselves. Hence, time management is really about managing our personal behaviors. The use of planners, calendars and the development of schedules or routines assist greatly in managing our behaviors in regard to time. Since children do not innately have an understanding of the passage of time and the amount of time required to complete various tasks, our instruction as parents must begin to create that understanding of time.
Time Management Tips:
When you believe your child is capable of doing so (approximately 3 or 4 years old), assign household jobs or chores for completion. Affirm your child’s efforts and provide specific feedback on the quality of that effort. As your child builds a history of task assignment and completion, begin to have him or her approximate the length of time it will take to complete the job.
Over time, assign two or more tasks simultaneously. Ask your child to determine an order of completion. Introduce the concept of a “priority” and provide examples of tasks where the priority of completion makes a difference.
Model the use of calendars, date books, “to do” lists, or other household planning devices so your children recognize and hear conversations about scheduling and using time wisely.
Provide personal examples where you managed time successfully and examples where you did not. Help your child understand the reason for the difference.
Help your child recognize the difference between a daily, weekly, and longer term (monthly, semester) schedule. Build opportunities to practice the development of each kind. Plan to include school events, family activities, athletic practices, church or club activities or any other situation requiring a specific timeline.
Encourage your child’s use of a planner or assignment notebook. Review and discuss the contents regularly with your child ensuring their understanding (and yours) of its content.
Work with your child to establish a routine or study schedule that maximizes his/her personal learning strengths. Some students work well early in the evening, others later, while still others prefer early morning times.
As home work assignments are reviewed, work with your child to establish a priority for completion. For some assignments, that priority will depend on personal choice; for others, the length of the task or its due date, may determine the priority it is given.
Help your child approximate the amount of time any given assignment or task is likely to require. Factor in your child’s interests, motivation and overall work speed. It is better to start conservatively and quicken the pace over time. This will lead to less discouragement initially.
As conflicts arise (two important events occurring simultaneously or a ‘fun activity’ conflicting with a school/home responsibility), help your child to sort through the conflict, describing the likely consequences of each action. Avoid making the decision for your child---mistakes (unless personally harmful) are great learning opportunities.
Web Resources on Organization:
Common Q/A on Time Management:1. When do I need to begin to teach my child time management skills?
It is almost never too early to start, but time management skills are a developmental and multi-layered process. The process is begun prior to the time your child enters school and continues well into their high school years. In fact, the process becomes more complicated the older students get and the more involved they become in multiple activities.
2. How do I start to teach time management skills?
Before your child enters school, introduce the concept of time (daytime/nighttime, morning, afternoon, day, week, etc.). Similarly, assign your child developmentally appropriate tasks to complete. Over time, begin to equate tasks with their expected time for completion and help your child develop reasonable goals for the same. Build an understanding of priorities and help your child relate those to his/her life. Once in school, routines and daily schedules help students put time management in a proper context. As students progress in school and are given homework and other tasks for completion, work with them to develop daily and weekly schedules, accurate estimates of time for completion and priorities.
3. How can I teach my child time management skills if I am not particularly effective managing my own time?
In that case, allow your personal experience to be your guide. Explain the ramifications of inefficient time management in your own life and the havoc it has wrought (citing personal examples/situations). Work with your child to learn the skills and avoid the pitfalls you have experienced.
4. What if my child refuses to use a planner, assignment notebook or other time management tool?
Work with your child to review the rationale and importance of tracking daily activities and expectations. Talk about class preparation, better grades, increased confidence as a learner, and the time savings it ultimately creates (to engage in more pleasurable activities). However, your child may still discount the value/importance of using a planner, or use it under such duress it loses its natural effectiveness. In those instances, it may be important to allow the logical consequences of disorganization to create a sense of urgency in your child to change his/her behavior.
5. What time management skills is it important for my child to carry into adulthood?
Although there are a range of behaviors that have implications for adult success, the following would seem to have the most universal merit:
Time is a fixed commodity defined by the parameters of any given day/week/month.
All tasks require some time expenditure for completion; determining that time expenditure allows for more careful planning
Using a planning tool (calendar, electronic device) reduces stress, missed opportunities, and embarrassing moments. It generally elevates the professionalism of those involved
Various tasks compete with one another for completion
Defining one’s priorities allows the opportunity for the most important tasks to be completed first
Time management is really about personal
decision-making and choosing wisely based on anticipated outcomes.