“My research paper is due fifth period, my government test is first, and I need my uniform washed for the game! How am I suppose to get all this done? Oh well, I have to leave for work right now or I’ll be late.” Does this sound like a typical day with your teenager? For most high schooler, this is not only typical but also an everyday, every week, every month kind of routine. These teenagers are being pushed from so many different sides that the stress can become overwhelming. Just like with adults, teenagers need to hone their time management skills before it is too late. Teens need to learn how to prioritize, eliminate, and schedule.
First, teens must learn the critical skill of prioritizing. There are so many events and due dates circling around their heads that this can seem like a daunting task, but it is quite simple. First list those things that are most important like sports, friends, or the big dance. Then list those things that are necessities like the research paper and studying for the test. Then look at the things that remain like the job or clubs; these are the things that teens can do when time allows.
Once all the requirements and activities are prioritized, teens should start eliminating those things that just are not that important. Learning to say no is one of the toughest and most rewarding skills a person can obtain. If teens are in seven different clubs and hold an office in all of them, they must start cutting out some. They can stay in the clubs, but they need to relinquish the leadership role in some. No one can be spread that thin and still be doing a good job in all. So have them focus on the ones that they enjoy or will help them in the future and let the rest go. Next, think about the part-time job. Are they working to pay for things that are necessities or are they just spending every dime they make? The fancy cars, phones, and outrageous insurance payments may seem important now, but in the long run no one really cares. Let them cut the work hours down to the minimum needed to survive, and have them start enjoying what’s left of their teen years. Trust me, once they graduate, everyone will expect them to work 40 hours a week for the rest of their lives!
Finally, now that everything is laid out and the excess is cut away, teens need to learn to schedule their time to lessen the stress and ensure that quality attention is given where needed. First, have them get a planner that they take to school with them. They think that teachers are surprising them with these assignments, but in reality they know at least a week in advance when the major projects are going to be due. Have them start there. They should focus on the ones that are due first, and plan on having some completed early if there is more than one due at a time. After school is taken care of, have them look at the hours they have left and the amount of hours they need at the job. Teens are allowed to request limited work hours at most places of employment; if they’re not, have them change jobs because there are employers who understand. Finally, have them take the time they have left and schedule time with their friends. Remind them that they don’t have to go somewhere spectacular; they just need time to hang out and make memories.
The next time your teen comes to you with an overwhelming schedule, don’t just brush it off with, “High school was the best time of my life.” The stress these young adults are feeling is more real than you may ever know. Take the time to help your teen learn these valuable time management skills now. It will make your life and his or hers much easier. Remember, this generation will be taking care of you in just a few short years.