Mandala art depicting a teenager looking at the clock

7 Valuable Time Management Tips That Will Make Your Teen Soar

Mandala art depicting a teenage girl looking at the clock

7 Wonderful Rules To Make Your Teen Responsible With His Time.

Teaching the importance of time management to teens is the most difficult task. With so many changes happening in their heads, body and environment, talking about time management is like opening a pandora’s box.

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teenager looking at the clock

Our Teenager’s VUCA World

Having worked on projects all my life, managing tasks on time comes naturally to me. When I see things not being done at the right time, it vexes the hell out of me. But here the people concerned are my own two teenage daughters; hence I have to run through the entire parenting checklist of do’s and don’ts before I react. After all, I strongly believe that our Teens are living in what we call the “VUCA” world and need a different Parenting approach than ours. You must read about this interesting approach here before moving ahead.

To add on, Teen Mood swings make it all the more difficult for us parents to guide them on how to manage their time well. Sometimes they are open to our suggestions and other times; they reject them completely saying “how would you know? You don’t have to manage all these things”. Hmmm! Almost makes me think I was never a teenager and was born an adult. In these times my I use one of my 7 Tips for Managing Mood Swings and get her and my mood in control.

To be fair to today’s teens, it’s difficult for them not to get distracted by so many things happening around them. While social media is definitely a culprit, today’s education system with so many projects and assignments also leaves them exhausted and confused about how to fit everything in one day. And of course, we also want them to excel in extracurricular activities like sports, dance, art etc.

As my teen girls are growing older, I am trying to guide them on how to manage their time wisely with my experiences in both personal and professional life. It’s important that they learn how to manage their time as students & enhance these when they start working as professionals.

While going through this list of time management techniques, you may feel that these are useful for adults too. Yes of course and this is by design as we need to start treating our teens as adults now.

7 Tips for Effective Time Management

1. Make A Checklist Of All the Tasks

teenager making a list of tasks to do

The moment my elder daughter comes home, her first statement is always – “MOM I am so exhausted … there is so much to do, and I don’t know how I will manage all the submissions”. Heard this before? I am sure all you moms reading this have heard this a zillion time.

I hear her patiently and tell her I understand how she feels. And then I ask her to follow my Rule #1.

Rule #1 – Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done with deadlines if any.

This is most important because when your teen writes down all the task, he/she is clear of what all need to be done. When things are in their head, they tend to become bigger and bigger in their imagination. So better get them out on a paper or your tablet in the form of a checklist.

Please ask your teen to put down any submission deadlines with the tasks.

2. Prioritise The Tasks

Urgent vs Important stamps

This one is tricky as everything seems to be important in your teen’s mind. But remember my Rule #2 .

Rule #2 – Anything and Everything can be prioritised.

I read this amazing concept of Bucketing your tasks as Urgent or Important. Many-a-times we use Urgent tasks and Important tasks interchangeably and for us it may mean the same thing. But actually, it’s not.

Here I am referring to the definition of Urgent & Important tasks as per The Eisenhower Decision Matrix .

Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention. These are the to-do’s that shout “Now!” Urgent tasks put us in a reactive mode, one marked by a defensive, negative, hurried, and narrowly focused mindset.

Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they’re not. When we focus on important activities we operate in a responsive mode, which helps us remain calm, rational, and open to new opportunities.

Based on the above definitions we can have 4 kind of tasks

  • Important & Urgent Tasks
  • Important But Not Urgent Tasks
  • Not Important But Urgent
  • Not Important & Not Urgent

Let me simplify this by giving examples under each.

Important & Urgent Tasks ( ICU Tasks)

These can be any of the following:

a) Assignment submissions with deadlines

b) Periodic evaluations

c) Any health-related problems that need to be attended to – headaches, injuries etc.

Important But Not Urgent ( Planned Tasks)

In my daughter’s case, they have to do a P2 project in grade 10th. They decide the topic of their interest and start working on it basis the guidelines shared. The final product along with the project report has to be submitted before the end of Term 1. All the timelines are shared at the beginning of the year so that the student can plan his/her schedule accordingly.

So this falls under Important but Not Urgent category as the deadline is far away and shared in advance so that the student can manage project timeline.

Not Important But Urgent ( Interruptions )

Sometimes my daughter will want to spend hours helping out her friends with their assignments while pushing her to dos on a backseat. While this trait is appreciable but not at the expense of neglecting her tasks and then stressing on them.

Another one can be a crisis call from a friend. Again, it’s important to be there for your friend but draw a line.

Therefore, we need to encourage our teens to balance between ICU tasks, Planned tasks and Interruptions and let the interruptions not impact the first two.

Not Important & Not Urgent (Time Waster)

As a mom I can have an endless list here. Constantly on social media, phone calls, outing with friends etc etc.

In my case, my daughter has this online dance class which starts at 10 pm and ends at 11 30 pm 3 days a week. The days she has a lot of work or is tired, I ask her to bunk this class, but she will not as dancing is her passion. Please note that this task may go down the priority list depending upon other tasks on hand. And hence Time waster title may not be a permanent title.

I will not completely rule out these as they are a source of recreation for our teens and they need that outlet. But again, ensuring that these tasks don’t override the #1 and #2 tasks is most important.

Pl note this is a parent’s interpretation of these tasks, our teens may have different interpretations, and this brings me to my Rule #3

3. Let The Teen Own The Task & Responsibility

Teenagers holding a clock

Continuing from Rule# 2, please let the teen do the bucketisation of the task. As a mom, it’s very tempting to provide the filled-up matrix for the teen but believe me it will take you nowhere.

As I mentioned, you may have a different perspective than your teen and that counselling call with her friend might be the most important and urgent task for her at that moment. Any amount of argument will not change her mind so give in. But at the same time be assertive enough to get a message across that the work or task due should not be compromised.

So, the result, Out of 10 tasks, your teen would have bucketed at least 6-7 and will work towards fulfilment. We cannot always expect 100% adherence to these definitions, but we will see them inching closer towards the goal. And as long as they realise they need to finish the task even if they have to stretch, its fine.

So summarising Rule #3– let your teen own her task and her priority list.

4. Reverse Time Blocking

Schedular

Time Blocking is a very simple yet useful technique which can be used by all age groups. Once you have identified the tasks, plot them on a calendar and give timelines and block your calendar.

But when you already have a deadline in mind, apply my Rule #4 of Reverse Time Blocking.

Reverse Time Blocking technique works wonders and gives you the control on the tasks. I used this technique very effectively in my Project Head avatar.  In most cases, we had a set deadline from the client, and everything had to be planned withing that timeline.

 When my younger daughter (13 years) was working towards releasing her website for magic, I encouraged her to set a launch date and then work backwards.

So, we followed this process-

a) Set the launch date

b) Identified the various tasks to be done for the launch including the dry run

3) Assigned dates for these tasks

4) Set Up a review mechanism whereby she and I used to spend 15 min at the eod to see where we were against this plan.

I was quite surprised by her diligence and even if she missed a few tasks on a certain day, she ensured she covered them up the next day so that the overall project plan does not get impacted.

I used the same approach for all their evaluations, whereby we work backwards on their study schedule so that we have everything covered and revisions done before the exam.

But all this planning will not work unless your teen is the main architect of the plan. So, make sure it’s her Plan and not yours.

5. Reach Out for Help

teenager confused with questions in his head

Rule #5 – An important principle of project management is to reach out for help at the right time so that your end goal or deliverable does not get impacted. Taking a leaf out of my Project management learning, I encourage my teens to do the same.

This is super critical, and we must teach our teens to reach out for help whenever required instead of wasting their time. Self-help and self-sufficiency should be encouraged but not at the cost of missing the deadline. I must confess that I do push my teens on this particular aspect and hopefully they realise why.

6. Do the Hardest Thing First

teenager studying

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain

Difficult to digest but worth the effort – My Rule #6 – Finish off the difficult or most unpleasant tasks first.  And why I encourage my teens to do this is because of the following:

a) It gives you the required motivation or momentum to go ahead with rest of the tasks and it’s a relief that the toughest one is out of the way.

b) It gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your adrenalin. After all it’s a win for you, however small.

c) It makes you look forward positively to the rest of the tasks as the most difficult one is out of the way. The stress of doing that difficult task is out.

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How I use this with my teens? Well, when they are narrating their list, I ask them to start with the hardest task on their list. Sometimes they do negotiate but I insist on not letting this slip down further than #3.

7. Lead by Example

Note pad next to coffee with a tick on do it now

Rule #7 is what every parenting blog ends with… Lead by example. Your children learn more from you and your actions than any book or sermon. If they are seeing you managing your time well, they will imbibe those habits. If they see you procrastinating and sitting till midnight before your meetings to make that presentation under the pretext “I work best under stress”, they will use the same alibi soon.

Tennager holding a clock in her hand

These years are the most crucial years in our teen’s life and with so many distractions around, it’s not easy for them to focus on tasks. As parents, we need to understand and accept this reality first. And next is not to give up on them and keep on reinforcing good time management habits by example and by constant dialogue.

Do you feel these time management tips work for teens as well as adults ?

If yes, please share this blog with your family and friends.

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7 Valuable Time Management Tips That Will Make Your Teen More Responsible.

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Rippy Gauba
Rippy Gauba

I am a working professional and a mom of 2 teen daughters. After having worked in the corporate world for 22 years, I am now a free-lance consultant specialising in project management. I am very passionate about spending quality time with my family, my pet CoCo, painting and blogging.

I write on Mindset, Motivation & Management. These are everyday, practical tips I picked up from my personal & professional life. These learnings have impacted my life as an individual, as a parent and as a working professional. I am sure these will be useful for you too and help create Ripples of change in your lives & that’s my intention.

Welcome Aboard!!

8 thoughts on “7 Valuable Time Management Tips That Will Make Your Teen Soar”

  1. Dr.Sweta Rastogi

    Very interesting article maam …
    Especially The Reverse Time Blocking concept I have heard for the first time ..
    I will try to incorporate it in my working for sure . It’s an amazing thing if executed well .
    Thank you ….

  2. Awesome message…and with so much of practical implications… Thanks for sharing the post.very well and precisely said.
    Keep sharing &
    Stay blessed:)

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