Ah, time management! That surprisingly elusive talent/asset that frequently feels integral to success. It’s a critical skill to have and one that you should certainly try and cultivate. After all, the further you get into high school, the more important it becomes. Indeed, you’ll most likely be juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, a college search and SAT/ACT prep all while you attempt to maintain a healthy social life. We realize that’s a tall order. So, how do you best manage your time?
Push yourself to make a to-do list. To-do lists are a fabulous way to help you stay organized. They’ll force you to take a mental count of everything that’s going on and offer a physical reminder of what needs to get tackled. You can craft the list so that the most crucial and/or immediate tasks appear first. And you can even decide to sprinkle a few fun activities throughout to keep yourself motivated. Plus, you’ll get the satisfaction of crossing off completed jobs and hold tangible evidence of your accomplishments.
Think about when you’re most productive. We all operate differently. Some of us are morning people who feel like crawling into bed before the sun even sets. Others are night owls who don’t feel fully conscious until at least 3:00 in the afternoon. Certainly, there’s no right or wrong answer (though hopefully your optimal time is not 4:00 am). Regardless of when it is, think about tackling your work then. You are likely to be more focused and efficient and retain more information that way.
Make sure you maximize your time. Whether it’s a long bus ride home, waiting at the doctor’s office or having a half hour to kill between school and soccer practice, you frequently have moments of down time. You should use those instances to your advantage, conquering a few Algebra problems or reading the next assigned chapter in The Great Gatsby. You’ll have less to worry about when you get home and it might even allow you to get ahead (or, at the very least, net more evening relaxation time).
Keep a calendar. It doesn’t matter if you use your Gmail account, iPhone or a good ol’ fashioned desk calendar. You can keep track of class schedules and assignments, daily/weekly chores, upcoming tests, social events, big sports matches, etc. By (regularly) maintaining said calendar, you’ll know what to expect for each upcoming day. And you’ll easily be able to prepare for what’s coming down the proverbial pike.
Figure out how to properly budget your time. Take a moment to think about how long certain assignments and activities typically take. If physics homework usually requires a full hour and jazz band is always two hours, you’ll know that you have to allow for that in your daily schedule. Once you solidify/clarify all of your commitments, you’ll be able to figure out a weekly agenda. And, importantly, you’ll clearly see where you can pencil in some time to kick back and relax.
Realize that it’s okay to say no. Unfortunately, there are only a finite number of hours in the day. And sometimes you simply can’t accept every invitation that’s extended. If you are already attending baseball practice and a study group, you probably shouldn’t also agree to go to the movies. You need to recognize your commitments and priorities. A trip to the local cinema can always be rescheduled.
Time management is an essential skill. Certainly, it helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. Perhaps more importantly, it helps to ensure that we’re performing to the best of our capabilities. And while some of us might be more naturally inclined to organization than others, it’s an attribute we can all develop with guidance and practice.