Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Time. The thing that no one can get enough of. "I'll just do that tomorrow" is something that we've all said before. However, what if you knew how much you could get done today?
As a middle schooler or high schooler, it's crucial to develop your time management skills so that you will not only be successful now, but you will prepare yourself for even more success later.
Just a heads up, I believe that this article is pure gold. Not only did I receive straight A's in every class after I applied these strategies (and it's been three years), I have felt more in control of my life. I would advise you to read thoroughly. The five minutes is worth it!
The benefits of time management
Having a healthy work-life balance. Wouldn't it be nice to get your homework done and have enough time to watch Netflix?
Lowers stress. Wouldn't you feel more in control of your life if you got your tasks out of the way now?
Less burn-out. Been there, done that. Trust me, you don't want to burn yourself out. What's worse than feeling overwhelmed and exhausted 24/7?
Meet your deadlines. If you're managing your time well and following a schedule, you're almost guaranteed to turn your work in on time!
Better work quality. By pacing yourself, you will no longer have to rush your work.
Ok, so you're saying all of this... but how am I supposed to actually achieve these benefits?
Don't worry, I got you dude. I'm going to share with you the management skills that got me through some of the busiest times of my life.
#1: Planning ahead
This is what I believe made me successful. Below is a picture of what my week was like during midterm season. Of course this is a very extreme example, and my normal weeks are nowhere near as crammed. However, I think it's great at showing a successful long-term plan.
This three-week plan was what kept me organized during the most hectic time of the year: midterm season. Literally. Before the first picture, I had already begun preparing for my exams as you can from the "finish almost/all quizlets" note at the top.
Since this is more of a personalized study plan, I'm not going to go too much in depth. However, here are some things that I want you to take notice:
The color coding: I used pink to highlight my tests, green to highlight major assignments/extracurriculars (like volleyball or Science Olympiad dates), and orange for big events (like midterms). I write these dates down the day I find out so that I can plan accordingly. For example, if I know that I have a test next Monday and a volleyball tournament on Saturday, I will allocate more time to study before Saturday to make up for the lost day. It also helps me visualize the amount of time I have when I plan out my studying.
The planning ahead: At the top of some pages, you can see starred phrases. I used them to remind myself of my schedule. I also wrote down test dates the day they were announced and planned backwards to map out a perfect study schedule.
The labels: In the third picture, you can see that I've written down which class' midterm is on which day. Underneath that, I've planned out my daily review session for all the upcoming tests. I've also starred the next day's tests.
You, after you've learned about these game-changers -->
Prioritizing, prioritizing, prioritizing. This is so important!
Do you feel like you just have way too many things to get done? I'm guessing one of the reasons why you're feeling this way is because you're simply trying to finish everything in a short amount of time. Figure out what the most important thing is and tackle it first. Do you have a math test in two days? Then prioritize studying for that test before you spend time working on something else.
Here's a harder question: if you had a math test in two days and worksheets that are due tomorrow, which one would you work on first? Personally, I would study first. No matter what your current grade is, that math test is weighted far more than the worksheet. If you spend too much time chipping away at a mountain-load of worksheets, then your grade might drop significantly because of that one test. It's best if you space out your studying and whiz through the worksheets when you're done.
#3: Planning out your day
By planning out your day, you will be able to focus on the task on hand knowing that you are right on schedule. Personally, I use the Chrome extension app called Momentum. It helps me keep track of my to-do list as well as the time. A daily schedule might look like this:
By planning my afternoon in increments, I am able to go down the list and keep track of how much time I spend on a task. This helps me manage my procrastination, which is especially important during busy days.
#4: Waking up early
I know, I know... Waking up early is the cruelest thing that you could do to yourself on a Saturday morning. This girl needs her beauty sleep!
However, imagine this:
It's Saturday morning and you have tons of work to do, soccer practice to go to, and a Netflix show to catch up on... all in one day. "What am I going to do," you ask yourself. Thankfully, you woke up at 7 am that morning (I know... how INSANE) so you have plenty of time to get things done.
You do homework and finish at 12 pm, when you then eat lunch and go to soccer practice. When you come back from soccer, it's 3 pm. By this time, all of your homework has been finished and you have time to not only start the new season of Stranger Things, but to also paint a painting with those new oil paints that you got. You can do this for the rest of the day.
Doesn't that just sound refreshing?
#5: Lastly, be realistic
I know this is something that I struggle with a lot. I tend to overestimate myself and my ability to stay on task. I will plan too much work to do each day, resulting in a pileup of assignments. Then, I will see this back-up in the system and I will get discouraged of my progress, even though I was as productive as I could be.
Don't make this mistake.
This is detrimental to morale and is a huge contributor to burn-out. When you begin to feel like no matter how hard you work, you will never dig yourself out of your work, you begin to decrease in productivity and fall into a repeating cycle of tiredness.
Be realistic with yourself on how much you can actually get done in a day. Now, this by no means suggests that you should underestimate yourself, however it helps you in the long run when you decrease the workload. Wouldn't it be so much nicer if you could relish your hard work at the end of the day? Yeah, I know it would!