Welcome to this post about time management for teens!
There is no resource more valuable than time. Time is limited and nonrenewable. But, unlike other nonrenewable resources, we have no idea how much time we have left. We could die in 80 years, or we could die tomorrow.
That is why it’s so important that you use the time that you have wisely, because each day could be your last.
As teens, time management is crucial to our success. We have a lot of things that we are involved in that all require plenty of time. We have school, homework, work, sports, extracurricular, time with family and friends, and more!
10 Time Management Tips
So for the first half of this post, I want to share 10 time management tips, and then in the second half, I want to share a personal case study of how I spend my time in a week, so keep reading if you are interested in that.
I think in order to fix the problem, you first need to assess the problem. In this case, I suggest that you do some sort of time tracking. It’s really hard to get an accurate idea of how you are spending your time unless you actually track your time hour by hour, for at least a week. There are several different ways to track your time, so find one that works for you. The key is to be honest with yourself, there’s no reason to lie.
After you have tracked and analyzed how you spend your time, it’s time to decide what is most important. As we discussed earlier, time is limited, and therefore, we have to decide what we spend it on. I recommend making a list of the areas of your life you want to spend time on, and then prioritize that list. The most important items should be the ones you spend the most time on, and you should try to reduce the time you spend on the less important items.
Now that you have your priorities straight, you now need to eliminate the distractions. These are the things that you spend a lot of time on, but are a very low priority. For most people I would guess that it is social media, YouTube, TV, Netflix, video games, etc. If you don’t know what your distractions are, ask yourself, what do you do when you should be work instead? I’d recommend taking a little time off from those things, either for a week or a month, and see how productive you feel. Afterwards, you’ll have a fresh perspective and be able to control yourself better.
While I know that to-do lists are not for everyone, they sure are for me. I need to have a list of things that I need to get done each day, otherwise, I might forget something or just choose not to do it. I think that having to-do lists create a sense of urgency in your day and it feels very satisfying when you are able to check an item off.
The next thing that I think is essential to time management is batching. Think about all of the repetitive tasks that you do throughout the week. Then, next time instead of just doing one days’ worth, do multiple days’ worth. For example, if you have multiple math assignments due one week, knock them all out in one session, instead of doing 5 sessions throughout the week. You’ll be surprised at how much time you save over the course of the week.
Airplane Mode/Do Not Disturb
Whenever I need to get some serious work done, I know that I need to make sure nothing interrupts me. In order to do this, I put my phone in do not disturb. This keeps me focused on my work because I don’t keep getting interrupted my notifications on my phone. Airplane mode also does the same thing. However, if you want to get really serious, put your phone in a different room so that you are not tempted to touch it.
Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Which means, if you give yourself 4 hours to finish your homework, it will take 4 hours, however if you give yourself 1 hour, it will take you one hour. Give yourself more deadlines in order to limit the time you get to spend on projects, and the projects will get done a lot faster.
The 80/20 Rule is a popular rule from The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It states that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts, and 20% of your results come from the majority 80% of your efforts. Which means, you should focus on the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of your progress, not the 80% of tasks that only generate 20% of your progress.
If you’re part of a team, one thing that could help you a lot is delegating tasks. Instead of doing everything by yourself, try giving your teammates tasks to do. If you are able to do this, you can quickly cut your workload in half or even to a quarter of what it was.
Finally, I think one very important time management skill is doing less. Sometimes, less really is more. No matter how productive you are, you are still limited to 24 hours a day and 168 hours a week. Sometimes, you are just trying to do too much at once. I believe that you can really only focus on 3-4 areas of your life at once. If you find yourself in a situation where you are trying to do more than that, I think you need to take a step back and ask yourself which ones are most important, and focus on those for now.
How I Spend My Time
The next part of this post will include a personal case study for how I spend my time in a week. Honestly, this section is mostly just for me because I very analytical and nerdy, but I thought I would add it in just in case anyone was interested.
I started tracking my time this January as part of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2020.
I started with the popular time tracking method where you have 10 bars that each represent 4 hour chunks. Each bar represents the 10 areas of work you need to focus on that week. If you fill each bar, you have a 40 hour work week.
This works great if you want to track what you’re working on when you work. But, I had a different goal. I was trying to see how I spent my time each day so I could see what was distracting me from my work.
So, in April, I started a new time tracking method where I track each day, hour by hour in my bullet journal. As I go throughout my day, I just fill in each day with one or two words that describe what I did that hour. If I worked on something for 40 minutes and something else for the other 20 minutes, I just write down the item that used the majority of the hour.
This summer, I am hoping to do some more self improvement, and I think one good area to start is time management. So, since I am kind of a nerd, I decided to analyze how I have spent my time over the last 8 weeks to see what improvements I can make.
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Week 7||Week 8|
So, I spent some time tallying up the last few weeks and putting the results into a spreadsheet. The table above contains the the 7 main categories and how much time I spent on each for that week.
I noticed that these 7 categories are the things I spend 95% of my time on. I was actually really surprised to see how similar each week is. For the most part, each week the categories don’t deviate more than 5-10 hours from the average.
The averages for each category are shown on the table below:
|Weekly Average||Daily Average|
It’s sort of tough to analyze the data when you’re seeing it as weekly averages, so I converted it to daily averages, and it was much easier.
7 Areas I Spend My Time
9 Hours Per Day – I am in my bed attempting to sleep for around 9 hours of the day, however, I actually sleep closer to 8 hours a day because it takes me awhile to fall asleep and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. My goal is to decrease this to around 8 hours per day.
5 Hours Per Day – I am on my phone roughly 5 hours a day. This includes things like Netflix, YouTube, Video Games, and Social Media. It does not include productive things I do on my phone that help me with my work. My goal is to decrease this to 3 hours per day.
4 Hours Per Day – I work for around 4 hours per day on this blog, freelancing projects, or my t-shirt business. Some days I work for 10+ hours, and other days I work none, but it averages out to 4 hours per day. My goal is to work 4-6 hours per day.
1 Hour Per Day – I play video games for around 1 hour per day. Most of the time, I play with family. I am actually trying to increase this to 2 hours a day because it’s one of the easy ways to spend time with family.
4 Hours Per Day – I spend time with family for 4 hours a day on average. This includes, talking, eating together, watching something, playing a game, or just hanging out. I think that’s about the perfect balance.
Less Than 1 Hour Per Day – I exercise for less than 1 hour per day on average. I’m trying to increase this to roughly 1 hour per day on average.
1 Hour Per Day – I spend about 1 hour per day on personal items, which includes getting ready, organizing, reading, etc. I think that’s also the right amount of time.
Below you can see a table that shows how I have spent my time over the last 8 weeks and how I would spend my time ideally. I am trying to decrease my time sleeping and that I am on my phone and increase time working, playing video games, and exercising.
Time management is a crucial skill that is required for success. Check out A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done: Discover Your Procrastination Type, Stop Putting Things Off, and Reach Your Goals (The Instant Help Solutions Series). Hopefully, you can use the things that you learned in this post to help improve your time management skills! Best of luck!
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