In the movie, The Great Debaters, there is a quote my mom would say all the time, “Do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do.” She was teaching me to get all the important stuff, like homework, chores, things you have to do but don’t want to do, done first. Then I could go have fun and do what I wanted to do.
As children move into middle school and eventually high school, time management becomes an increasingly critical skill to master. Procrastination can cause many problems and students need to learn to not wait until the last-minute to complete projects. Even in college, I struggled and was consistently freaking out about how to manage my time and get everything done.
This article is directed to the middle school student. You are lucky in the sense that you still live at home. In most cases, you’ll have your parents to take care of meals, laundry, and all sorts of time-consuming stuff that college students and adults have to worry about.
To prepare you for success now and for many tomorrow’s, I’m going to give you some helpful tips for managing your time. You may even garner more fun as a result!
Effective Time Management: Make a To-Do List
Believe it or not, this is one of my new favorite things to do. I will grab a piece of paper, decorate it with a nice heading, and literally write down everything I have to do for school. I will even organize it by due dates.
As I get assignments done on my list, I cross them off. I have to say, it is a liberating and exciting feeling to watch what you have to do dwindle down to nothing. These little To-Do Lists are wonderful in giving you rewarding visual feedback. Crossing tasks off the list demonstrates that you’re actually making progress.
When you finish everything on your list, you can be stress-free. You have the freedom to do all of the fun things you want to do. Make a list, cross of completed tasks and then do fun things like watching TV, hanging out with a friend, or playing a new video game.
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Organized Time Management: Make a Calendar
When you get a syllabus for a class or you know when you have upcoming tests, quizzes, reports, and big assignments, put them on your calendar. You can use an online calendar, an app or go old school and use a paper calendar. Find a calendar that works best for you.
Calendars are a wonderful organizing tool to keep long-term and difficult assignments in order. At a glance, you know exactly when assignments are due. A perfect visual tool, a calendar lays out for you, the time frame needed to begin studying for a big test or working on a time consuming project.
First, gauge the amount of time given for the assignment and the difficulty of the project. From my personal experience, the more time you are given on an assignment, the harder it is or more is expected of you. Be sure to factor that in and don’t wait until the last minute to get started.
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Prepared Time Management: Rank All Homework & Assignments
As I mentioned in “To Do Lists”, organize your assignments by the due date. But is is also extremely helpful to rank all assignments based on how much time you think it will take to complete them. By ranking assignments, you will be able to devise a good plan of attack on how to get everything done.
It’s your choice. You could start with the hard stuff while it’s fresh in your head from the class lecture. Then work your way down and unwind with the easy assignments.
Or, you can start off with the easy stuff to get it out of the way. Then, you can focus all your attention on the hard assignments without the stress of other assignments looming.
Personally, I like to start with the hard ones. I think hard assignments require more brain power. I don’t want to be tired by the time I get around to the harder assignments!
Proactive Time Management
This one is important. Basically, don’t procrastinate! Don’t wait until a few minutes before something is due to get started.
You never know what will happen in life. Always be proactive and prepare for the unknown. Try to get assignments completed in advance so you aren’t cramming and feeling all the stress that comes with cramming. Even worse, you don’t want to turn something in that is less than your best effort.
You never know, you might miss school the day the assignment is due. You may get sick, have a family emergency, or anything – life is unpredictable. By getting work done well in advance of the due date, you will have ample time to dedicate to the assignment, thus giving your best effort. The work will be done even if life gets in the way. Even better, you will end up with more stress-free, free time!
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Reward Yourself for Good Time Management
After a tough night of homework and lots of hard weeks spent studying, you should most definitely reward yourself! Go out with your family for a nice dinner, watch movies, play video games, or just do something you really enjoy. After all, you worked so hard and clearly deserve your free time!
Rewards keep you motivated along the way and help you to keep doing the work you need to do. Work hard, play hard, as they say!
Whether you are coming up with a plan at the end of the school year or preparing for the next school year, I hope these strategies help you to effectively manage your time.