High school can be an intricate maze of assignments, responsibilities, and deadlines and navigating it can often be very challenging. We all know the feeling of having a “to do” list a mile long and not even knowing where to begin. Learning how to tackle one’s schedule in an organized and efficient way can seem daunting, but if equipped with strategies one can successfully conquer the calendar chaos. Throughout adolescence, some of the most important skills teenagers can learn are time management and organizational skills. Here are 5 easy steps suggested by Michelle Szabo, Instruction Program Manager at the Stern Center, to help your teenager avoid feeling overwhelmed and instead feel in control and confident.
1. BE PROACTIVE:
It is important to identify a problem early, before the situation has a chance to spiral out of control. Don’t wait until progress reports come out before identifying a break down in organization that may be hindering your teen from excelling academically. If you peek in your teen’s backpack and find crumpled up papers of unfinished homework assignments and quizzes with less than favorable results don’t be discouraged. It is never too late to start creating effective organizational habits. Executive function lies on a spectrum and everyone has the ability to learn these skills if given the proper plan.
2. MAKE A PERSONALIZED PLAN:
Once you and your teen have agreed that there is a need for a more organized routine, the first step is to create a plan of execution. It is important to discuss what challenges your teen faces, what they struggle with the most, and what your collective goals are. Lay out the objectives and discuss how your teen learns best. Every person is different; discover which strategies are best for your student. Would keeping a binder help or would a daily calendar/planner be more beneficial? Ask questions and brainstorm together to find out which customized plan is the best to start with.
3. ESTABLISH A SYSTEM:
Once a plan has been formulated, the next step is to develop a system of actions that will help your teen remain organized on a day to day basis. Some individuals may need more supervision than others. Does your teen struggle with clutter and needs to simply make sure he or she hole-punches each paper and puts it in a folder to ensure it doesn’t end up at the bottom of a bag? Or do you need to have a more hands on approach with your child where he or she needs to check in with someone at the end of the school day to make sure everything is accounted for? Develop clear and concise tactics to make sure each goal identified in the plan is being met.
4. MANAGE THE PROCESS:
Help your teen choose a resource most conducive to their learning style that allows them to facilitate their own learning as well as track their progress. Options include posting sticky notes in places that act as helpful reminders, creating daily “to do” lists, creating notes on their phones, or having a planner where they can write in each homework assignment. Just remember that these resources are not set in stone. If you and your teen find that one management tactic is not for them then you can always try another. This process is all about trial and error.
5. MONITOR PROGRESS:
Be diligent about making sure you and your student are tracking his or her progress. It is important to regularly evaluate which strategies are working the best and which ones may not be worth your student’s time. If you and your teen are willing to experiment and change strategies when it is necessary you will be able to work together to create a system that is most effective and that gets you closer to achieving your collective goals.