In these uncertain times the need for time management has never been greater. Three months ago student’s days were largely scheduled for them. They were in school for 8 hours, often had athletic or club commitments, homework, and maybe a part time job. Finding time for dinner or even sleep was a challenge. With the closures of physical schools and the implementation of distance learning due to CoVid-19 students suddenly find themselves more in command of their day. This can be a mixed blessing. Schools are shut down. Most activities have been cancelled. Social commitments are very limited. This means students have more time available, but they have to use it wisely.
We will discuss each of these and show you how to develop an actionable plan for efficient time management later in this post.
There is one big difference during this pandemic, MOTIVATION. Now more than ever students need to be self motivated. Some of your teachers may schedule Zoom calls for specific times, but for the most part, that rigid weekday schedule you are so used to is gone. How do you motivate yourself to get started and keep moving? You can’t manage your time efficiently if you aren’t doing anything.
1) Sit down at the beginning of each week, maybe Sunday night maybe Monday morning, and organize your tasks for the next week. Do you have a test coming up? a paper due? Evaluate your assignments in order of priority. I like to use the Must Do, Should Do, Would Like to Do method.
2) Now look at your week. Block out time that is already committed. Things like Zoom Classes, appointments, meals, and any other time that you will not be able to work efficiently.
3) Look at the items on your Must Do and Should Do lists. Estimate a time to complete each of them. Make sure to be aware of due dates and deadlines. It doesn’t do any good to set up a plan to study for your math test on Thursday if the test is Wednesday. Break the tasks down and assign them time blocks on your schedule. Try to limit time blocks to an hour and a half, then take a 15 - 30 minute break. This accomplishes two things. First, you need a break. No-one can work effectively ALL DAY. Second, if a task takes a bit longer you have some leeway.
4) Check your math. If the time needed to complete your Must Do tasks and at least 1/2 of your Should Do tasks in longer than your available time, something has to give. Evaluate the time you blocked off and see if you can cut back on anything. Maybe you can read an assignment while you eat your lunch. It isn’t perfect but sometimes it might be necessary. If you consistently have more to do than hours to do it, it might be time to eliminate something from the schedule.
5) Take time at the end of each day to check off the tasks you have completed. Celebrate those wins!!!!! Don’t let items on the Should Do list get pushed to the next day more than twice.
6) Plan to Pivot. What I mean by that is you can have a GREAT plan and sometimes things change. A teacher announces a test or quiz on short notice. Your computer or internet go out. The reason to evaluate your lists and plans at the end of the day is to allow you to make adjustments so that you can manage your time as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Many students find time management a real challenge as they transition from high school to college. Implementing a solid efficient time management plan in high school will create skills that will give you a head start in college.