Time management is an essential skill that can make or break your academic success. It is also one of those lifelong skills that can positively or negatively impact your child’s future family and career life.
Like with many skills, it’s important that your find what works for you. We have a finite number of hours during the day, so you want to make sure you are intentional about the way you manage your time. There is no one size fits all answer that will ensure that you get everything done when it needs to get done. However, starting by looking at planning your time from a monthly, weekly and daily perspective is a great way to get going.
Planning weekly is the next step and an important one for students and busy parents. It’s important that you know what you have in the week ahead so that you can manage your time appropriately. Support your child by helping them look at the monthly calendar and seeing how the events that are lined up for the week will affect the week ahead. What needs to be scheduled on which days to ensure that the days run smoothly? If you are using this method for yourself as a parent, what do you need to have in your weekly calendar to ensure things run smoothly for you at home or at work? Many individuals, like myself, may use electronic calendars and as you get your appointments, you should place them into your weekly calendar.
Moving from monthly to weekly planning helps you to prioritize your time. To illustrate prioritizing of time, I want you to think about big rocks, little rocks, and pebbles. You can use this idea when speaking to your older children about time management. Imagine that you have a bucket that you are trying to fill with big rocks and pebbles. Which will you put in first? If you put in your pebbles first, will all your big rocks fit? Probably not. Therefore, it’s important to put your big rocks in first so that your little rocks can then fit in all the grooves. Big rocks are items such as class tests and important events such as a family reunion. Big rocks are usually items that you do not have the ability to change when they happen. Once you have scheduled these in, you schedule your little rocks in. Little rocks are not necessarily less important than your big rocks, but you are more likely to have a little flexibility on when you do them. The important thing is that you get them done. Little rocks may include your child’s daily homework, weekly chores, and leisure time spent on the computer or with your friends.
Therefore, whether planning for yourself, or supporting an older child, you will want to first identify your big rocks, then block out time for these big rocks, and then schedule everything else.
Once your monthly and weekly calendars are established, you will want to start thinking about your daily calendar. Older students and busy parents can benefit from this idea as well. Instead of seeing it as a daily calendar, you may want to see this as a to-do list. A daily to-do list helps to focus you or your child each evening to ensure that you have completed the task required for the next day.
When creating your daily to-do list, start by reviewing your weekly calendar. Add entries to your daily to-do list based on your weekly calendar. Try and make your to-do list more specific than your weekly calendar. You will also need to decide on a method to add things to your next to-do list. Be clear that some items may remain on your to-do list for several days. For example, a psychology paper may be there for over a week. Tasks may be broken down into background research, outline, rough draft writing, proofreading and editing, good copy writing, and so on.
There are a variety of paper and electronic tools that can help you get started with your monthly, weekly and daily planning. As a parent, effectively managing your time is a way to reduce stress and raise productivity and happiness. For this reason, it is a great idea to support your child as they discover the time management tricks that work for them.