It's bedtime on Sunday night, and your teen suddenly let's out a shocked sigh and announces that she has a paper due in the morning. Sound familiar? Annoyingly familiar? I've been dreading those words since the day my first child was born, and I hear them way too often. I'll admit it. Those words are my worst nightmare. Procrastination is a sleep and sanity killer! Time management for teens is tough, so let's tackle it together.
Time Management Tips for Teens
It's difficult to conquer procrastination on your own. This post is meant for teens and parents to read together, so please read it, then grab your teen and talk about it together. Maybe I should have called this post, "Time Management Tips for Teens and the Parents Who Love Them" instead.'
Just to be real. I know about time management and procrastination through personal experience. I was the ultimate teenage procrastinator. I got over it, and your kids can, too.
The first step in managing procrastination is recognizing how your decisions affect you and other people. Teenagers--guess what? You live with a family, and your choices effect you and the other people in your home.
Procrastination negatively effects you
How do you feel physically and emotionally when you have a deadline hanging over your head? Can you relax? Are you happy? It's natural that deadlines can cause people to feel a bit of stress. It becomes a problem as the deadlines get closer and closer with no progress on the project.
Procrastination negatively effects others
Imagine the following scenario:
You work hard all week, and you have a special relaxing event planned with a friend Friday night. (Maybe it's a movie, maybe it's skateboarding--use your imagination.) You look forward to it all week long.
Mom needs your help cleaning the garage. She can't do it without you. There are some things that need to be done that only you can help with.
Every time you volunteer to help Mom during the week, she tells you that she doesn't have time right now. She's busy cooking, cleaning, or maybe just reading a book for fun. She promises she'll get to it later.
Friday arrives, and it's time for you to go out with your friend. As you head out the door, Mom gasps and says, "Oh, no! The garage! It's not done. We have to do it right now! I promised Dad it would be done by tomorrow morning. You'll have to stay home and help me."
A silly story, I know. But it does make you think. If you need help with the project you are procrastinating, you're not just hurting yourself by putting it off, you're also hurting anyone who needs to help you by being selfish with their time. Time management skills will help you avoid these issues.
Assess the problem
Now that you know how procrastination effects you and others, it's time to do a little self assessment. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you procrastinate?
- Why do you put off those particular things?
- Can you think of anything that helps you focus and your work done?
Now, let's take those answers and find ways for you to manage your time effectively.
Chunk it and schedule it
When you get one of those assignments that you know you are going to procrastinate, plan ahead. Break that big project into lots of smaller projects (chunks), and set a deadline for each small project. You'll start to see progress on your assignment daily, and the stress you feel from the large project will begin to feel smaller.
It's really helpful to use a planner. You can read all about tips for using a daily school planner here.
Check out these cool planners on Amazon. (Affiliate links.) You can find planners all over, but I love these because they are made for students. They have handy reference pages for math, measurement and more.
Choose a parent or a friend who will help you stay on track. Let them know your plan, and check back with them to let them know your progress. When you know that you will be reporting back to someone, it's a lot more motivating to get the work done.
You know what motivates you. If you need to reward yourself for completing each small chunk of the project--do it! If you can hold off and wait for a bigger reward when your project is finished, make a plan to do something fun to celebrate when you're all done.
No kids love to have their parents nagging them about assignments, but that doesn't mean that you should be totally hands-off. Your teen will probably need a lot of help implementing these time management tips. Set aside one day a week to go over your teen's homework schedule. Encourage them to recognize the large assignments that could be broken down into smaller chunks. Help them to realistically divide their projects into manageable tasks.
When in-class work becomes homework
The main time management problem in our home stems from writing assignments that were meant to be completed at school, but that suddenly come home as homework. In your weekly discussions, teach that the same chunking technique used at home can be used at school. If the tasks aren't getting finished at school, some can be finished at home to keep the teen on track at school.
Good luck, and I hope this is helpful! Here's to fewer last-minute late-night homework help sessions for all of us!
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