As we all know, one of the hardest things for kids to do is manage their time. Okay, let’s be real here. Time management is extremely difficult for adults, too.
As an attention-span-challenged adult, I have struggled with time management all my life. I have ADD and I am dyslexic, which just adds to my organizational difficulties. The fact that I am a fourteen-year-old kid trapped in a middle-age guy’s body doesn’t help things, either.
It’s very interesting that I chose to be an author considering how focused and time-efficient authors have to be. At first it was extremely difficult. I missed many deadlines and spent more time on less important things, like daydreaming, than I should have. My favorite phrase during that time was, “Don’t procrastinate today. Put it off until tomorrow.”
I can honestly say that I came very close to blowing my career as a writer because I was so disorganized. I was saved, though, by my mentor who, at that time, was the creative director at an advertising agency. His job was to manage a group of highly creative individuals. And as frequently happens with creative people, they often got themselves into a tangle because they had never learned how to parcel out their time effectively.
My mentor gave each member of his young team a card. He had them memorize what was on the card, and he randomly asked them to repeat it to him, even in the break room during lunch.
On the front of the card was a cartoon drawing of a person running around like a whirling dervish. On the other side of the card was the following title and a list similar to the one below:
Success Is All About Timing
- List the things you need to do in order of importance. (Even the fun things so you have something to look forward to.) Re-create this list every morning.
- Once a week, make a time schedule. Work out how much time you usually spend on your activities. Figure out how much free time you have before you add any commitments. And don’t forget to build in time for yourself to relax and have fun.
- Don’t agree to do things that will overwhelm you time-wise, especially if you have a deadline or a test. Postpone things like hanging out and watching movies until you have the right amount of free time.
- Give yourself a block of dedicated time every day. During this time you can study, do your homework, write your report, get prepared for presentations, etc. Turn off your phone, television, radio, and other things that will distract you. (My mentor would have included surfing the Web and playing computer games if there were such things in those days.)
- Every person has a time of day when he or she is more productive. Do the most difficult work during those times. Your energy level will be higher and you will find it easier to complete the task.
- Check on yourself. If you find yourself procrastinating and wasting time, refer back to your list to get back on track. If you find that you are stalling or procrastinating because you are confused, stuck, or can’t move forward, ask for help from the person who assigned you the task.
I have successfully used these points to navigate the time obstacles that almost derailed my career. After writing fifty books, I can honestly say that I owe much of my success to organized time management.
These very same points can be used with kids and teens, and I would even suggest creating a similar time-management card for the time-management-challenged young people in your life. Write it in your own words using the six points as a guideline.
Do you have special time-management strategies? Share them with us!
When Trevor Romain was 12, his teacher told him he wasn’t talented enough to do art. By accident, he found out twenty years later that he could draw. Since that lucky day, he has written and illustrated twenty books for children. In addition to writing, illustrating, and speaking at schools, Trevor is a board member of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and can often be found on the cancer ward at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas, doing his rounds as “Doctor of Mischief.” He is the author of several Free Spirit books, including How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up and Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain.
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