Teens and the Time Management Trap

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As you get deeper into your teen years, homework increases and grades take on added importance in the pre-college phase. Athletic/music practice becomes more demanding and extracurricular activities put further demands on your time, and that’s without fitting family and friends into the mix. Before we talk about time management techniques, however, it’s important to understand time drains, the unproductive places to which your time seems to disappear.

While there are days that feel genuinely like a small gremlin is magically sucking the time out of your day, the biggest time drains have something in common…they all have screens. While technology has led to breakthroughs in medicine, improvements in aerospace and increased access in the global economy, it can be a huge time drain in the life of the teenager.

Would you ever let your annoying sibling or nagging parent knock loudly and repeatedly on your bedroom door every 90 seconds while you attempted to read Shakespeare? I dare say a few choice words may fly if they attempted such inconsiderate behavior. Why, though, do you sit down to study equipped with your buzzing cell phone (complete with text messaging capabilities), instant message and email alerts, and a ringing house phone? At least if your little brother is banging at your door, you can yell at him!

Don’t take my word for the effect technology has on your study skills, try an experiment to prove it to yourself. I’m willing to bet that your study time will not only be more efficient, but more effective as well. So, on any given night, do what you normally do, no change. Take note of how long it’s taking you to get your work done (remembering that with every successive interruption, it takes you time to find your place, and refocus).

On the next night, turn off ALL the interruptions for a period of, say, one hour (I’m not delirious enough to think you could make it through a whole evening). Tell your parents that unless the house is burning, you prefer not to be interrupted (their stunned look may eventually give way to a small tear of joy). Spend one solid, unbroken hour doing nothing but your homework. Do not push the lint on your desktop, do not pick at the loose thread on your sweatshirt and do not take notice of the fact that the books on your shelf aren’t arranged both alphabetically and in size order. See how much you get accomplished when you focus on the task at hand and not on all the “noise” around you. As a reward for working hard for a block of time, answer a text message or IM, but do so only for a pre-established period of time, say 10 minutes, and then back to work! Don’t make your goals so unrealistic that you can’t possibly succeed, but raise the bar for yourself- not only will you get more done, but you’ll retain so much more of what you studied!

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write by derrick williams

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