Between school and extracurricular activities, homework, and time with family and friends, it can seem like teens and tweens may have precisely scheduled days. However, time management and schedules are completely different. For older kids who struggle with executive function, time management is one of the more important skills to master. Below are helpful tips to help teens and tweens set priorities and meet their time management goals.
How to Improve Time Management in Teens & Tweens
1. Understand Different Rhythms
People often consider themselves either a morning person or a night owl, but they’re usually referring to when they feel best. However, there is more to this. Many people have vastly different rhythms throughout the day—some feel like they are most productive or do their best quality work at certain times. Helping kids identify their own rhythm is key to managing their time. Maybe they write their best papers after dinner or find that math comes easier if they complete assignments right after school.
2. Encourage Healthy Priorities
While hanging out with friends is often kids’ first choice, it can be helpful to encourage healthy priorities based on goals. If your child wants an A in English, for example, set up a list of priorities to help them secure this grade. This may include completing papers two days before they are due so there is time for revisions.
3. Create Lists & Reminders
It can be easy for time to slip away when there’s so much to do, and it’s hard to tell how long tasks take. Tracking time can be a beneficial way of building strong time management skills for teens and tweens. They can accomplish this through phone reminders about upcoming due dates or events or a traditional paper organizer. The tactility and satisfaction of crossing off finished events and homework can positively reinforce the habit.
4. Reduce Technology
Technology can be a great gift when it comes to staying connected with friends and keeping up with homework. However, it can also be a big distraction. Encouraging teens to cut back on technology use can be a challenge, but incorporating apps that block social media during specific homework periods and disabling push notifications on mobile devices help eliminate distractions.
5. Try Different Techniques
With so many different productivity methods available, finding the right one for your child can take some time. One of the more popular focusing methods is the Pomodoro Technique. This involves working in 25-minute bursts of focused productivity and then taking a short break. During the break, which could involve a quick video game session or talking with friends, teens should avoid thinking about their work. This allows them to feel refreshed and ready for the next 25-minute work session.
6. Consider Executive Function Coaching
If your tween or teen seems to be losing focus easily, having a hard time staying on track toward goals, or feeling easily stressed by workloads, executive function coaching can be extremely beneficial. Executive coaching is individualized to meet kids where they are so their specific needs and goals are addressed.
7. Create To-Do Lists
Writing a list on paper may seem old-fashioned, but to-do lists have endured for a reason. Creating a list makes it easier to remember what needs to be done and prioritize. For example, an Eisenhower Matrix creates a visual representation of urgency. To create the matrix, divide a sheet of paper into four quadrants. Label these: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Then help your child divide their tasks into the appropriate quadrants. This visual can help them set reminders, decide on the order of what needs to be accomplished, and outline their priorities.