Our brain only sees what is in front of us. “Out of sight, out of mind’ is an old expression that is very significant for the time challenged person. It’s easy to end up forgetting to do things that we don’t see, like completing an assignment that’s due at the end of the week, and that assignment in your backpack or on the floor next to the back door.
A student with time management deficits may have trouble with homework, school work, a job and a social life. For example, a student may forget that he had an appointment after school with a teacher to make up an important test. Students with time management issues have a hard time keeping track of time and their many obligations. Students that are time challenged may not turn in their projects on time even though it was assigned a month ago. Some of these students may not realize how much time and effort a project may take and start it the project 2 nights before the due date.
Since time is invisible and we can’t see it, a child, adolescent or adult that struggles with time management is going to need external tools that support the brain in order to remember to get stuff done.
Below is an external toolbox for time management for the time challenged or really anybody.
Analog Clocks - these clocks show three aspects of time: the present, the past and the future. Analog clocks can be displayed all over the house, next to computers, next to the bed, where homework is done, next to the tv and even on a wrist.
Digital Timers - these timers can be used for transitioning from one activity to the next. They can be set for limited time breaks. They can be used as motivators as well.
Daily Planners - with a brain that only focuses on what it sees, it’s important to have a plan for the day in sight. You can simply use a piece of paper and clip it to a clipboard, a planner or you can use a small dry erase board.
Weekly Planners - Keep the weekly plan insight and visible. This is where you can create and maintain your to do lists. You can use a dry erase board or create your own list. Be sure to add everything you need to do for the week plus the fun things you are planning too.
Monthly Calendars - similar to the analog clock, this calendar provides the big picture of time: the past, present and future. Similar to the weekly planner, the topic of organizing calendars is a lengthy one and it can have an entire web-site dedicated to it so I’m going to keep it simple.
Whether your needs will be met with a family or a student calendar, the calendar needs to be kept in sight and ready visible. If you plan on using a family calendar you can have each family member add and update their own activities, and in their own color (e.g., dad – green, mom – blue, John – orange, etc). A student calendar should represent the quarter, semester or the 10-month traditional school year. Each subject should be color coded along with activities. Students can have a calendar just for projects, exams and weekend commitments.
Remember to cross off each day on your calendar. You can see the time getting closer and see that you have less time to complete an assignment. We want to see the future and make time visible, plus that dopamine hit sure feels good when you cross things off your list!
My Personal Time Management Experiment
I want to share something personal about my time management skills. I ran a little experiment over the winter to see where my time was spent during the day.
For one week from 9am – 9pm, I kept track of everything I did during that time frame, I wrote the estimated time I thought it would take, as well as the actual time it took. Wow, I was off. That’s when I realized I had to change my relationship with time. See below, this is a real eye opener.
Time, time – its invisible but certainly a very real factor that we all need to acknowledge and manage in our lives. For our children and adolescents who struggle to manage their time effectively, these strategies are helpful ways to keep a lot of what’s to come and to break down long-term assignments into parts. The end goal is to keep up with deadlines in school and be able to know what’s next for sports, activities, and family events!