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Staying on Track: Helping Teens Develop Time Management Skills

In today’s fast-paced world, it can seem like things are running a mile a minute – especially for teens who are juggling schoolwork, sports, activities and often part-time jobs. With ever-changing schedules, there’s no denying that time management is a lifelong skill that’s best developed young. Instilling time management in your teens will help them build the foundation for success in college, career and life in general. Here are three key strategies for helping your teens develop time management skills:

Involve your teen in the scheduling process. Too often parents take full control of their teens’ schedules, constantly telling them what to do and where to go. Getting your teen involved in establishing their own personal schedule is the first step to helping them understand the importance of time management. Whether your teen prefers to use an online calendar or a handheld planner, help them map out their schedule in its entirety to include school commitments, extracurricular activities, work schedules and social outings. This exercise will show your child how to establish a schedule and, most importantly, hold them accountable to fulfill all their responsibilities.

Teach them about technology distractions. Because technology has become so pervasive in teens’ lives, they often don’t even realize that it’s a distraction! It’s important that you bring to your teen’s attention how much their technology usage may be distracting them from their school work or time with loved ones. Rather than limit how often your teen uses their cell phones or computers, consider teaching them how to set their own guidelines and limits. For example, your teen may discover they’re on social media the most in the evenings, which cuts into their study time. Getting your teen to evaluate the impact of their distractions is the first step to helping them develop positive time management habits.

Commit to weekly check-ins. Even when you think your teen may have a handle on time management, it’s always a good idea to check in and regroup. Consider setting aside a half hour each week on Sunday evenings to sit down with your teen and see how they’re doing. This is also a good time to go through your teen’s backpack, help them organize their papers and sort out their schedule for the upcoming week. In addition, regrouping gives you a chance to ask your teen what time management strategies are working for them, as well as identify areas in which they can better balance their commitments.

The sooner you empower your teens with the tools to master the skill of time management, the better prepared they’ll be in all areas of their lives. While your teens may show some resistance at first, they’ll thank you in the long run!