Mastering Time Management: The Hardest Part of High School
Figuring out how to use time wisely can be the bane of a teen's existence. Here are some tips that might help.
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There’s a saying my friends and I have. “I wish I could have 32 hours in a day just so I can have a full eight hours to sleep, and the other 24 to actually get stuff done.” Not having enough time for everything might be the biggest problem for high schoolers today. With most students having multiple clubs, sports, jobs, and other extracurriculars to worry about after school, there is a very limited amount of time to get school and other work done. Time management has become a huge part of teen culture, but it’s also the hardest part of high school. It took me a full two years to figure out a system that worked for me, so here are some tips for you and your teen to help find out a solution that works for him or her.
1. Don’t feel like you have to buy a structured agenda.
The problem in my freshmen and sophomore years was that I felt like I had to spend money on a planner that already had structure to it (for instance, one with a couple lines to write in for every day of the week). But, this planner I always used for maybe a couple weeks and then got bored with it. After a while, I realized what my problem was: I didn’t have enough space. Around this time, I also found out about bullet journaling, which is a more fluid version of a planner. So, I bought a blank notebook and tried a couple different formats. I made a lot of different lists every day, and wrote out everything that I needed to do. I prioritized the best I could, made schedules I did my best to follow and, eventually, after lots of trial and error I realized that making lists worked for me. So, my takeaway from that experience is to play around with different types of planning. Don’t feel restricted to one page or even just a couple lines in a planner. A blank notebook allows more freedom to expand your thoughts, and to have more space to write out everything you need to do. Don’t limit yourself.
2. Use online calendars.
One big problem I had with a busy schedule was communication with my parents. Since my parents don’t get notifications about my activities too often, it was my responsibility to tell them what my schedule would be like for the week. Many times I would forget to tell my parents about a schedule change, and then my mom would be confused about what time I would be heading home after extracurriculars. So, we found the solution to this would be a shared Google Calendar. There, I would put all of my swim practices, after-school club meetings, and community service I planned to do. My mom also uses it to let me know about doctor’s appointments and other practical things I need to know to plan ahead for. This allows my parents and I to keep in constant communication about what is happening on what day. After using it for a while, I found it useful to use when I needed to find time for extra work I needed to do throughout the week. Don’t be afraid to use more than one method of organization, having multiple calendars that each serve their own purpose can be extremely useful, as long as you know what they are all for.
3. Make a vague schedule.
Teens are notably unreliable when it comes to making a schedule and following it. We always tend to get distracted by something, especially if that something doesn’t have to do with schoolwork. But, I found that making a schedule, but not necessarily following it exactly, helps me to see how much time I have to work on everything I need to. For instance, I write out my after-school schedule like this: 3-5:30 p.m. Swim Practice, 5:30-7 p.m. drive home, eat dinner, get ready to do homework, 7-midnight do homework. Of course, the “do homework” time fluctuates, but I always like to leave room in case I need more time. Then, I decide to prioritize what I can get done that is on my homework list. If I know there’s something due tomorrow, I do that work first for no longer than an hour, and then keep going from there until I feel like I need to go to bed. This system works for me, and definitely helps me to visualize how much time I really need to commit to something in order to complete everything.
As more and more high schoolers participate in extracurricular activities, time management continues to be the most important part of being a student. If someone cannot effectively use his or her time, then it will be extremely hard to do everything he or she wants to do in his or her high school career. Using these tips and finding an organization method that works best can help your teen realize what he or she really needs and wants to spend time on.