One of the biggest problems that teens have with managing their time is that they do not know where all of their time goes to begin with. The first step in managing time is knowing what sorts of activities that you will need to time manage. Teens have time pressures associated with school, work and friends. But there are other activities that they participate in that take up time as well, such as sporting events, practices or lessons, watching television, talking on the phone, instant messaging, or listening to the radio.
Obviously some of these activities are more important than others, yet teens do not always assign an appropriate amount of time to those things that should be priorities in their lives. Encourage your teens to take a serious look at how they spend their time and how much time they spend doing things of little consequence.
Some teens like the structure of a schedule, while others like to work off of a list when they begin to better manage their time. For some teens, having clearly defined activities at set times every day is helpful in teaching them self discipline. Other teens want flexibility to do spontaneous things with friends and prefer to organize the things that they have to do each day on a list that they are sure to complete by the end of the day. Go ahead and try different time management plans to see which one works for you or your teen. Find some positive and negative aspects to each of these time planning methods and take the best ideas from both.
It is one thing to set priorities and another thing to really be determined to take care of those priorities before anything else. Managing time productively only works if you are willing to have some self discipline. Distractions will tempt you. Although it is certainly alright to allow yourself some leisure time, you will need to know when it is time to buckle down and get some work done.
Large tasks such as re-organizing a room or writing a research paper are daunting if you try to take the whole project on at once. Try breaking large projects down into more manageable parts. Not only will you avoid procrastination by doing a little work each day, but you will find that the work that you do get done will be of a higher quality than had you just rushed to put something together the night before.
Get and stay organized. It is much easier to be efficient if you know where everything is and supplies are easy to get to. Disorganized spaces not only waste time because it is harder to find the things that you need, but disorganization opens the window of opportunity for distractions. Schedules are also a way to stay organized. By checking off a list of things that you need to do you can see both what you have accomplished thus far and what more you still need to do.
Be creative in reminding and motivating yourself to stick to your new time management goals. Post sticky notes on the TV or the radio to remind you to limit the time you spend watching or listening to them. Post your to-do-list in an area where you will be able to see it multiple times during the day. Reward yourself for a job well done. When you have had a successful week, reward yourself by spending the weekend with your friends or by doing whatever you enjoy most. Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments at first. Every bit of progress is helping you to make your stressful life more manageable.