Many students today are involved in various activities in addition to school, which makes time management an important skill. Time management is the ability for a person to manage or divide their time among activities, and dedicate enough time to each activity to perform sufficiently.
As students get older, coursework frequently becomes more demanding and is accompanied by more extracurricular activities; therefore, it’s important for students to learn how to manage their time as early as possible.
Students who effectively manage their time may perform better in school and their extracurricular activities, and they typically have more free time. Students with ADHD often struggle with planning which can make time management especially challenging. For students with ADHD, time management can help not only with the planning of their activities, but also with their focus and organization of thoughts.
Why is time management important for students?
- It allows them to manage coursework for multiple classes at once
- It helps them balance schoolwork with nonacademic commitments.
- It helps prepare them for further education, employment, and adulthood in general
- It can reduce stress associated with disorganization and chaos1
What does it look like when a student struggles with time management?
- Frequent late or incomplete assignments
- Frequent or extremely late arrivals to school or other commitments
- Spending substantially more/less time with some activities or classes than others
- Difficulty remembering tasks and commitments2
- “Time blindness,” the inability to properly estimate how long an activity assignment will take2
How can I, as a parent, help my student improve their time management skills?
- Gradually introduce extracurricular activities and commitments to your student’s schedule
- Create regular routines for homework, activities, and other commitments, and help them stick to those routines
- Encourage them to plan out their day/routine
- Set priorities and make sure those tasks are completed before leisure time
- Create personal, or “false,” deadlines before actual deadlines to leave room for error OR emphasize the decrease in anxiety that usually comes with finishing assignments or projects early
- Allow them to create a time budget and decide how many minutes/hours they want to spend on each activity or assignments, especially on a busy day
How can I, as an educator, help my students improve their time management skills?
- Break up big projects into smaller parts, using those multiple deadlines to hold students accountable to completing the project methodically and not all the night before a “final” due date
- Give students assignments as early as possible
- Keep consistent classroom/homework schedules: discussion posts are always due on Wednesdays at 11:59pm, all big essays have Friday due dates, etc.
- Give students regular reminders of upcoming/pending assignments
CASE STUDY: Jack is a middle-school student who scores well on standardized tests, though he has low grades and he has difficulty keeping up with his schoolwork—especially in math. He consistently arrives at school 15 (or more) minutes late, frequently turns in assignments past their due dates, and often has missing or incomplete assignments. Outside of school, Jack is a competitive year-round sports player, takes piano and drum lessons, and volunteers with his family at a soup kitchen once a week. Some of his favorite hobbies include video games, trampolining, and playing basketball, and his parents report that these activities sometimes distract him from his schoolwork.
In Jack’s case, his good scores on standardized tests show that he’s high-performing academically, though his lower grades and difficulty keeping up with his work indicate that he may struggle with time management.
To help set students up for success at school, Jack’s math teacher changes his homework schedule so all homework is due on Thursdays. The teacher also reminds students about the upcoming homework due on Thursday, gives approximations on how long the homework should take, and gives students the next 20 minutes of the class period to work on their homework while it’s fresh in their minds.
To help set Jack up for success at home, Jack and his parents make homework a clear priority by setting aside 60 minutes each night after practice to complete assignments before he gets to trampoline, play video games, or play basketball. Although Jack might rather start with one of his preferred activities, he works on homework before he’s had a chance to get distracted by something more appealing to him, and he is more focused and motivated to complete his homework so that he gets to trampoline, play video games, or play basketball afterwards. As an additional measure, Jack’s parents ask his educators at school to provide him access to assignments a few days earlier, allowing Jack to set personal deadlines at least 2 days before an assignment’s due date. Even if Jack doesn’t meet his own personal deadline, this system helps him complete and turn in most of his homework by the official deadline.
- 10 Reasons why time management is important | Brainbridge
- Time Management for Students: a Psychological Explanation of Why We Struggle (colostate.edu)