Time Management in Teens
One of the most challenging life skills even adults find hard to master is managing their time. As a Coach who works with both grown-ups and teenagers, I have frequently seen in my sessions the use of time is questioned widely. This obstacle that can be crossed if crucial time management techniques are placed in a daily routine and where most adults can achieve this goal, teenagers can sometimes not see this as such a big priority in their skills to improve.
The reason teenagers can be lax about their time is mostly due to one problem; procrastination. It is acceptable for them to wait until the last minute to hand in their school work or projects, but it’s inevitable to deny that later on in life this is not an excusable factor, especially at a university level and then in the working world. Today time is seen as the new currency and if we are clichéd and quick to say “time is money”, well how are we not applying this valuable currency wisely with our teenagers?
Sadly teenagers who do not learn to use their time wisely will most likely become lifelong procrastinators, and if one waits till the last minute to complete deadlines, well this can create collateral damage not just on those you are answerable to but even produce high levels of stress for you and strain your relationships.
Along with teaching the teenager to be more independent, which is organically a right they assume must be granted to them, well this comes with a package of things, amongst which time management is imperative.
Why is managing your time so valuable?
To begin with, as a teenager enters the world of secondary school, there are a series of changes that take place in the day to day academic routine. Your teachers are suddenly different for different subjects, as opposed to having a form teacher that taught you everything in primary school. Most schools offer teenagers lockers, to keep their belongings and books. These subtle logistical changes mean the teenager has to plan before the time for lessons and remember to carry the books at 8 am for a class he will attend at noon. These a just a few of the many changes a teenager has to face and if he begins to be proactively organised, well this can bring him countless benefits not only at school but later on in the professional world too.
• Better performance at school and in the workplace
• Lower levels of anxiety when deadlines are approaching
• A better sense of decision-making power
• The desire to want more responsibility which leads to independence
• A social life free of stress as they find more time for family and friends
• Time is not just used to complete work but also to relax and unwind, and this is far better done if the time is managed better.
These benefits can be hugely reaped if parents can dedicate their own time to teaching time management skills.
Luckily at school teenagers are given quite planned and systematic schedules to work with, and it’s the after-school activities that have to be structured accordingly around their academic commitments. This is what leads many teens to mismanage their time.
• Lead by example. If you are a person who naturally runs late or you miss things your own child is telling you, it’s likely your teenager will mirror you. Use this opportunity to accomplish tasks for yourself and show your teenager that you are able to complete them.
• Build a routine with your teenager. It’s essential to establish specific healthy habits as a family all together, such as everyone finishes their chores by one particular time of the day. It’s always an incentive to complete tasks if you are part of a group (in this case a family) and once habits have been formed, there is no additional encouragement needed.
• Teach your teen how to manage time. Show him what a planner is, tell them how to use an App perhaps, listing methods, differentiation of important vs urgent. It’s equally important to stress how vital “time out” is too. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
• Priority filters. Teenagers are easily swayed by social agendas as they feel the need to be everywhere, the fear of missing out, they seek approval from friends especially. As a parent, you must teach them about how to say NO because every time they are saying NO to someone else, they are in fact telling a YES to themselves. This is strictly aligned with personal values and commitments.
• Being late has consequences. Just like in the working world they clock you into the company first thing in the morning, it also means if you arrive late then this fairs poorly on your record with human resources. If your child is waking up late or getting ready for school, an option can be to set departure time deadlines, which if unmet then it means you leave him behind and he must find his way to get to school on his own. It’s best to set rules, rather than nag them repeatedly. A teenager will learn to value his time once they have seen what happens if they don’t appreciate someone else’s.
Be patient with your teen when it comes to managing time, as along with mastering this critical life skill, they are already trying to understand and manage the changes their body and prefrontal cortex are demanding from them. Slow, steady and constant efforts will show results. Remember you are preparing them for a life skill, not just a quick fix.