How Teens Can Build Better Time Management and Study Skills
Getting good grades isn’t easy, and understanding how to make the best use of your time and effort takes careful planning. It also helps to be a strategic learner. That means you:
- Plan how you are going to learn and manage your time in the process;
- Use the skills you have to learn the task at hand;
- Keep track of the progress you're making.
Time Management Skills
Developing a system for managing time can be the single most important step you take. The pressure of trying to stick to a schedule can be stressful. It may take great effort, help and practice to find a system that works for you. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How long does it take me to get ready in the morning?
- What time of day am I most alert?
- How long can I study in one sitting?
- What types of things distract me the most?
- What rewards can I give myself to stay motivated?
- How long do my different commitments really take and how much leisure time can I expect to have?
- Study for short periods of time and plan to reward yourself after completing a predetermined amount of reading, writing or reviewing. Take needed breaks and be sure to monitor the progress you are making along the way.
- Try to develop a study routine, and select a preferred time and place to study. If it helps, change your routine each week and try different places to study. Be flexible, but also be sensitive to what works best for you.
- Find ways to stay organized. For example, try using index cards and wall calendars. These simple tools can be quite helpful in helping you to arrange and manage your time. A large monthly wall calendar can be useful and you might consider making copies of your schedule on index cards that you can carry with you. If you prefer to use a computer, smartphone or tablet, there are numerous software programs available with built-in calendars and reminders. There are even watches available that have calendars that can be programmed.
- To figure out how much time to set aside for long-term projects, first list all the steps required to complete the project. Next, estimate how much time you'll need to finish each step and then, count backward from the due date. Always allow more time than you think you will need for each step. If you are not sure about the project’s requirements, speak to the professor, teacher’s assistant, or learning specialist about how many steps are involved and what each step entails. This can give you a better sense of the time you'll need to finish the project. It also can help relieve some of the anxiety of the “unknown” in tackling a new project.
- Keep the syllabuses for all of your courses in a place where they won’t get lost. Make extra copies, just in case. Make sure that you know the due dates for each assignment. Sometimes you can ask the professor to set interim due dates for you to turn in parts of the assignment. This can help you get each step done on time.
- Build in a little extra time for unexpected problem-solving. Be prepared for projects to take longer than originally planned.
The main goal of time management should be to strike the right balance of work, academics and social activities. Smart planning will give you enough time for both work and play.