How to help your teens to manage their time
As any parent of teenagers knows, time can be an elastic concept in the teen years. "I'll do it later" or "In a minute
is a response that's heard often - and "later" is a time that either never comes, and 'in a minute' comes too late. While it's not easy, if you can teach your teen some time management skills now, it can save them from a whole lot of trouble "later".
Learning time management skills
"Time management and organisation come down to one thing - making good decisions," says Lissanne Oliver from Sorted! Organising and Decluttering "It's about differentiating between 'want' and 'need' - and misjudgment is a problem for teenagers."
Oliver has created a series of e-comics to help children understand basic organising concepts and "Liam Runs Late" is the perfect guide for teens who struggle with time management. The basic premise of Liam's story is prioritising - and it's this that Oliver says teens need to get their heads around.
"What you want to do and what you need to do are often two different things," she says. "Teaching teens that if they get the needs out of the way they can concentrate on the wants is the basic skill of time management."
Any basic guide to time management, be it at a corporate, household or teenage level, covers much the same territory. You need to assess how you're currently using your time - write down what you do over a two or three-day period and you'll soon begin to see where the 'time sinks' are.
Creating a schedule
Once you've worked out how you are really spending your time, you can create a schedule. First write in the things that need to be done. For a teen, this might be homework, a part-time job, chores around the house, sports practice, whatever (to coin a teen phrase). Once those important things are blocked out, the 'wants' can be worked around them ' remembering to allow for the all-important sleep that teens need!
"There are certain tasks in life, for adults and teens, that have no reward. The only motivation is to simply get them done," says Oliver. "Teens need to learn early that there can be a nasty downside to not achieving those tasks. Getting them out of the way is reward in itself. A little bit of work now for a lot of lazy later on."
Parents can help by sitting down to work through the schedule with their teen. Pinpoint the wants and the needs as you go, so that they begin to understand the difference. Schedule in free time as well as all the activities, needs, wants and musts.
"At the end, they - and you - will be able to see at a glance what needs to be done, and everyone will be clear on what's been agreed," says Oliver. "The most important thing is to start. If they get started on tasks, even ones that are not due for a while, it will be completed. Leaving things to the last minute only causes stress."
- This article was written by Allison Tait for Kidspot, Allison is the co-author of Career Mums: a guide to returning to work post-kids (Penguin).
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