For many students, studying can be a frustrating process. They often put countless hours into preparing for exams and completing schoolwork but their grades just don’t reflect this effort. Students can become deflated from putting in so much energy and receiving very little payoff. It’s the perfect recipe for diminished self-esteem. In many cases, these students have poor time management skills – an area that is often minimally touched upon at school. By offering your child these time management strategies, you can help foster success both in and out of the classroom.
1. Learn to accurately estimate time
Many students are completely unrealistic when it comes to predicting time. They might think taking a shower takes five minutes, downloading a document takes 60 minutes, and eating dinner takes less than three minutes. Therefore it would be difficult for them to map out their schedule. By learning to accurately estimate time, students can build more effective time management skills. When your child sits down to start his homework, have him write the ET, or estimated time he thinks it will take to complete each assignment. Then, as he does the assignments, he should use a clock or timer to determine how long the task actually takes. He should write the AT, or actual time, in his planner next to the ET. When students begin using this strategy, there is usually a large discrepancy between the estimated and actual time for each task, but the more they practice this strategy, the more realistic they will become with their time and the more effectively they will be able to use their time.
2. Learn to prioritize
Once students open their planner and predict the ET for each assignment, they should decide on the order in which they would like to complete each assignment and write the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc. next to each one. In general, it is better to prioritize the longer, more arduous tasks first when your child has more energy and do the easier, shorter ones later. Learning to prioritize assignments will help students feel more in control of their work and less overwhelmed by what may seem like an insurmountable quantity of work.
3. Write everything down
In our tech-savvy world, many students come to rely on computers and tablets for finding out which assignments are due and when. Many schools use online portals for this purpose. Yet it is still helpful for students to maintain a planner to help them see the big picture of all upcoming assignments and exams. They can also include after school activities, sports games, parties, and anything else on their social agenda. By seeing the whole picture of everything that is upcoming – both academic and social – students can better estimate how much time they have available to complete their work.
4. Create a routine
Some students work better right when they come home from school. Others prefer a bit of down time before getting to work, and many work best in the evening. Encourage your child to identify the time of day when he is most alert and focused, and stick with that time on a regular basis. Also identify a workspace – whether it’s a table in the dining room or a desk in the bedroom, and stock this space with the appropriate utensils for completing work.
5. Break down long-term projects
Have your child divide projects and long-term assignments into manageable steps and enter these steps into his planner. If his teacher does not provide the steps and corresponding due dates, help him break down these tasks into smaller pieces. For example, for a research paper, he might need to choose a topic, create an outline, research the information, put together note cards, and then write the first draft. He should write each of these steps in his planner so that he feels in control and on top of each step of the process.
As students progress through school, it is easy for them to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Many don’t know where to begin and others give up mid-way through the pess. By teaching your child these time management strategies, he can learn to better manage his workload and achieve overall academic success.
Written By Dr. Emily Levy from EBL Coaching