How to Help your High School Student Be More Organized

time management high schoolIs your high school student going back to school this month? Or maybe you’re a high school teacher struggling to help your disorganized student? Starting the year off organized is a great way to ensure your students will have good time management skills for the rest of the semester. It’s not easy but it can be done! Try these three tips to help get the year started right.

 1. Let them choose a calendar

If your high school student’s backpack looks like a tornado just went through it, you’re not alone. But, you also probably know that telling them to “get organized” will go in one ear and out the other. Students need two things to be organized: 1. Some kind of list (for daily to-dos) and 2. Some kind of calendar (for weekly and long-term deadlines.) Let them pick what that list and calendar looks like. Remember, it might be different than what you use! If you’re glued to your iCal, your student might prefer a paper calendar. It doesn’t matter how they organize their deadlines, as long as it works for them!

2. Procrastination Prediction

Chances are, your high school student probably procrastinates from time to time (and I bet you do occasionally also!) Ask your students to guess which types of assignments and tasks they are most likely to put off during the year. Then ask why. Maybe your student is feeling some anxiety about a certain class, and it’s easier to address that anxiety in the beginning of the school year than right before a big test.

3. Identify Time Killers…together!

Time Killers are those little things that waste our time without our permission. You may feel like you’re constantly telling your teen to get off the cell phone so they can focus on their work. Social media apps are a common Time Killer,  and they don’t just affect high school students! Start by identifying your Time Killers and explaining to your student how you plan to remove these distractions while you’re working. Then ask them to identify their worst Time Killer and how they can stop it from affecting their work.

4. Resources

Need more help? Enroll your student in this 1-hour online time management class for some practical tips. 5 star reviews, written by a college professor.

Time Management for College Survival…or just get the book on Amazon today! Time Management for College Student Survival

Time Management Book for Students

Time Management Book for Students

My 3 College Time Management Regrets

Time management for college studentsOver the next few weeks, thousands of young adults will embark on one of the most difficult time management challenges of their lives thus far…college. When adults look back on their college experiences, we tend to remember all of the fun, crazy times instead of how insanely difficult it was to adjust to being completely in control of our own schedule for the first time in our lives. It’s difficult. Looking back, I wish I’d realized three things sooner. Please do your favorite college student a favor and share this advice!

1. Remember you’re there to learn, not to get a grade

I didn’t figure this out until my third year of undergrad. My first year, I was focused on figuring out the least possible work I could do to get the best possible grade. I thought I was being efficient with my time…but I wasn’t retaining much information. When I stopped working for a grade and instead focused on learning, my studying time actually decreased. I found myself paying closer attention in class, so reviewing for tests was much easier and faster.

2. Give up on group studying

Study groups weren’t a good use of my time…but I continued to spend hours studying this way because that’s what everyone else was doing. If studying in a group works for you, great! Do that! But if it doesn’t, don’t feel that you need to say “Yes” to every study invitation just to be polite. Protect your time, study in a way that works for you, and then use the non-study time for socializing.

3. Try something different

If I regret one thing in college, it’s the fact that I didn’t sign up for the Ultimate Frisbee team. That might sound like a silly thing to regret, but it’s the only time I even remotely considered being involved in some sort of athletic team. Back then, I thought I “didn’t have time,” but now, I really don’t have time and I wish I had taken the opportunity to try something different when I had the chance. There are hundreds of ways to be involved in college, and nobody has time to try everything, but picking one thing to try that’s outside of your comfort zone is worthy of your time investment.

The perfect back-to-school gift! Order your copy of The Time Diet: Time Management for College Survival on Amazon today and see why it gets 5 stars

Time Management Book for Students

Time Management Book for Students

Or, enroll in this 1-hour online crash course of practical time management skills
Time Management for College Survival

How To Live in The Moment

Time Management in the momentLet me start by saying I find the title of this blog to be extremely obnoxious. We talk about “living in the moment” as though there is some magical state of being in which we soak every ounce of meaning and appreciation out of each minute of each day.

Big announcement – my husband and I are expecting our first child in June. When people find out, they always offer a hearty congratulations followed by something to the effect of  “Better enjoy that sleep while you can!” or “Appreciate every moment! It won’t last.

While I enjoy the sentiment and I don’t doubt its truthfulness, the pressure to “appreciate harder!” during this pregnancy is getting a little insane.

Needless to say, I’ve given a lot of thought recently to “living in the moment” and have found these three tips to be helpful:

1. Engage Fully

We feel so pressured to do multiple tasks at a time, but I’ve found that fully engaging with whatever it is I’m doing has helped me appreciate the “little things.” For example, when you sit down to eat lunch, don’t feel the need to be also scrolling through your email or catching up on the news. It’s been helpful for me to devote my whole self to doing an enjoyable or relaxing task for a shorter period of time than to try to split my attention.

2. Avoid the Count Down

Do you ever feel like you live from one big milestone to the next? I began feeling like I was living from one countdown to another. “I just have to get through the holidays” then “I just have to get through to the Spring” etc…When we get into this linear way of thinking, we forget to look around and enjoy what’s happening now. One of my favorite quotes is “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” and I try to think about that daily.

3. Practice Daily Reflection

I’ve tried to devote a minute or two before I go to bed to thinking through the events of the day. Not by re-hashing the problems that occurred, or second-guessing my actions and decisions, but by finding the happiness and the joy in what happened. It’s hard, and sometimes I don’t want to find the time to make happen, but it’s worth it in the end.

Finally, let’s not put so much pressure on ourselves to live each and every moment to the fullest. Once I stepped back and stopped trying to “appreciate harder,” I was free to enjoy the small things while looking forward to all the new experiences still to come.

**SPECIAL PROMOTION**

Time Management for College SurvivalGraduation is around the corner! For a limited time, sign up for my online class “Time Management for College Survival” for 20% off. Either purchase for yourself, or purchase for your favorite student. Lifetime access to 9 lecture, helpful worksheets, and advice that WORKS. Use this link and enter code “TIMEDIET20” at checkout. This is only for the first 20 people and only for a limited time so sign up today!

 

 

Connect with The Time Diet for more Time Management tips

My Journey Into Gray

Time management careerThey say that in order to get high blog traffic, your best bet is to make your blogs short with a catchy title. And don’t write about yourself too much because then the readers won’t be able to see themselves in your words. This blog breaks all those rules. I apologize. I hope you’ll read it anyway and share it with your friends because I believe this message is vital to living the life you want to lead and I wish someone had shared it with me earlier.

Black and White

When deciding how to spend our time, it’s easy to look for the black and white options. I will either pursue this career or that career, this path or that path, this choice or that choice…as though life were always that dichotomous. Sure, our time is limited and we can’t do everything, but our opportunities aren’t as cut-and-dry as we’d like them to be. If we’ve chosen to accept black and reject white, we might miss out on all the potential gray has to offer. Adopting the “gray philosophy” has changed my life and opportunities dramatically and I know it can for you too.

My Journey Into the Gray

I spent the first several years of my professional life with black and white tunnel vision. I have a degree in education, so I became a full time teacher in a public school district with a good reputation. Then I decided to get an advanced degree in education with the hope of teaching college at a small school in a small town and then move up to a large school in a large town. That’s the well-trodden path that others have forged for me. If you do A, B, and C then X, Y, and Z will happen.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that path, but I realized I was on a straight freeway when I was really looking for a curvy backroad – the kind that might lead to a dead-end, or right back to where you started, but could also lead to an amazing scenic overlook you never expected. That’s when I decided to start my own consulting business.

I did not jump in with two feet with the “sink or swim” mentality that some entrepreneurs recommend. I put my toe in the water with a blog and a few workshops here and there while continuing to teach full time. As my business grew and I quit my teaching job to pursue my doctorate, I felt pressured to keep my worlds separate. “Nobody outside of teaching cares about my teaching background,” I thought, “and nobody in education will understand the opportunities I’m trying to explore outside the classroom walls.”

I thought I was on two very separate paths but I’m now starting to see that they aren’t separate at all; I’m just forging my own in the middle.

New Possibilities

Since leaving the classroom, I have continued to grow my consulting business with both students and adults. I use my expertise in education to coach college students on time management and speak to high school and college audiences about how to succeed. I became a consultant with a bank delivering financial literacy seminars to student and adult audiences. I also travel around the country delivering professional development workshops for a non-profit that offers adaptive assessment software to school districts. And I teach music as an adjunct professor at Arizona State University. And I sell my three books on Amazon.com as I’m writing my fourth.

Where in the world is the manual for that career path? Where is the black and white? What do I tell people when they ask, “What do you do?”

I have no idea where this “path” will lead, but I do know that if I had continued to view my life as a series of black and white options, if I had continued to believe that teaching in the K-12 classroom was the only thing I could do with a degree in education, I would have been blind to so many exciting opportunities.

Expand Your Own Tunnel Vision

Your career path probably isn’t as narrow as you think it is. Don’t let your focus on one path blind you to possible detours and side streets that could lead to slightly different and new possibilities. Just because it isn’t “typically” done doesn’t mean it can’t be. Don’t be afraid to waste your time on an activity or opportunity that doesn’t fit the mold. Be creative. Be open to new things. Most importantly, find what you love doing and then find a way to get paid for it, even if it means taking the road less traveled or forging your own path. (See how I waited until the end for the trite Robert Frost poem reference? Go ahead and admire my restraint.)

Thanks for making it all the way to the end! I’d love to hear your comments. Either comment below or email me at Emily@TheTimeDiet.org. Thanks friends! Now go enjoy your week and feel free to tip-toe off the path and see where it takes you.

Connect with The Time Diet for more motivational and practical time management tips

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

Cutting Your Losses

The more hours of our day we sink into a failing task, the harder it is to admit that we may have made a mistake and move on. We continue to sink more wasted hours into the task in a fruitless attempt to make up for the time we’ve already wasted. The better plan is often to simply cut your losses, change your approach or scrap the task and make the most of the rest of your day.

Our brains don’t naturally work like this. When we have invested precious hours into something, we go into “loss prevention mode” in which we do anything we can to protect our investment. Unfortunately, in an effort to save wasted time, we just end up wasting more time!

It’s Human Nature

Here is an example of this concept using money rather than time from a study detailed in Psychology Today that says a lot about our time management:

In a hypothetical situation, participants were told that they had just invested 9 out of a total 10 million dollars developing a product when a competitor released a better and cheaper version. Knowing they could never compete with this new product, 80 percent of participants still said they would continue to invest the remaining 1 million dollars.

While logic would conclude it is better to lose 9 million dollars than 10 million, our natural instinct tells us to keep spending in vain in an attempt to recoup the lost money.

While this study had to do with money, I’m betting that if the study involved deciding whether or not to devote one more day, week, or month to a failed project, the results would be the same.

You’re Not Giving Up

There is a difference between giving up on yourself and cutting your losses when it comes to time management.

When a plan isn’t working, continuing to throw time at it won’t help. When you hit the pivotal moment in a task where you can either scrap it or keep going, ask yourself:

1) Will circumstances change in the future that will make my approach more likely to work?
2) Can I rework my plan without giving up on it entirely?
3) Is this plan the only way to achieve the results I want?  

If you answered “no” to these questions, then stop throwing more time at a failing task, cut your losses, move on, and try a different approach or a new direction altogether. You’re not “giving up” on yourself, but rather are making a calculated decision to make better use of your time.

Connect with The Time Diet and receive weekly blog and event updates.

Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

The Rule of Three

Do you have more than three big things on your plate at any given time? If so, you might be overloading yourself.

This weekend, I stumbled across an article in a parenting magazine that I found surprisingly relevant to time management. (It should be noted that I am not a parent, however, when you’re on an airplane and forget to bring a book, you’re at the mercy of whatever reading material the person before you left in the seat-back pocket.)

The article was about how to make sure your child is engaged in enough activities with out being overloaded with too many things. The author referenced something called “The Rule of Three.”

The Rule of Three comes from the chain of command in the U.S. Marine Corps. Apparently, Marines are given no more than three things to worry about at any given time. There are three people assigned to a fire team with the fourth being their leader. Three teams are assigned to one squad and three squads are assigned to one platoon. The number “3” wasn’t just chosen at random either. The Marines experimented with a “Rule of Four,” and a “Rule of Two,” neither of which was as effective and efficient.

The point of the parenting article was to say that if you have your child involved in more than three activities (including school) you are asking them to keep track of more than a Marine, and that just isn’t fair!

When I read this, I couldn’t help but think that this is good advice for everyone, not just for parents of stressed-out children. Do we have the luxury of being able to limit ourselves to three things at a time? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Often, if we want to go to school, or have a job, or make time for our families and friends, we will end up with far more than three things to keep track of.

Therefore, I think The Rule of Three applies to focus almost more than involvement. You may be involved with countless responsibilities, but recognize that you’ll have to scale back your focus on some while you increase your involvement in others. This type of balance is what The Time Diet is all about.

Connect with The Time Diet to receive weekly blog and event updates!

Technorati Keywords
Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Teerapun

The ABC’s of Time Management

I frequently hear time management advice that tells us to prioritize our days based on the “ABC” system. A’s are things we have to do, B’s are things we’d like to do and C’s are things it’d be nice to do if we had time left over. I’m sure this system works for some people. Here is why The Time Diet works better for me.

Most of my things end up being A’s! I try not to waste my time doing unessential things, so everything ends up being a “have to do.”

I could easily spend my entire day doing “have to dos” and never have time for anything else. This leaves me stressed out because all of a sudden “everything” has become a priority. It also seems like anything fun or enjoyable in your day will become a “C.” It isn’t fair to ourselves to always place our own enjoyment as a last priority. That’s how we get burned out.

I prefer to think of my day in The Time Diet food groups of Meats, Vegetables and Desserts.

Meats: Thinking-intensive things that are difficult to accomplish

Vegetables:  Less thinking-intensive things that are easier to accomplish

Desserts: Enjoyable things

When planning your day, it’s important to plan a balanced diet of tasks so you balance out your difficult work with easier and more enjoyable things.

In The Time Diet, everything you have to do is “important” otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it! By balancing your work according to difficulty, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed and more likely to finish more work than if you’d simply tried to tackle all of your deadlines at once.

Is prioritizing important? Of course it is! However, trying to prioritize without taking difficulty into account is not being fair to ourselves.

Connect with The Time Diet! Get weekly blog updates and find out about Time Diet events in your area

Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Digital Art

How to Tackle Huge Projects

In The Time Diet, I frequently say how important it is to break up your “meat” tasks and set small goals for yourself to stay motivated with your time management. Yesterday, I stumbled across an example of exactly why this is true. In keeping with The Time Diet analogy, I appropriately found this example on a restaurant menu.

On Friday night, my husband and I went out to dinner. I saw “sliders” on the menu and thought that little mini hamburgers sounded delicious.

“No,” I thought to myself. “It’s way too easy to eat too many of those!” One hamburger has about the same meat as two sliders, but nobody eats just two sliders! They are so little, you end up eating more meat than you realize.

Then it dawned on me. The same is true for time management!

When we have a huge “meat” project looming, it can be overwhelming. (We’ll call this the “hamburger”). However, if you break up that same work into smaller projects and spread it out over time, you won’t feel like you’re working as hard. You’ve essentially turned your big “hamburger” into “sliders.” You’re completing the same amount of work, but instead of tackling it all at once, you’re nibbling at it.

How to Break up Work

When you are dividing your work into smaller parts, remember to do the following.

 1) Plan in advance
It is important to divide your big project into smaller chunks as soon as possible. The longer it stays in your head as one huge task, the more you’ll begin to dread it.

2) Construct a timeline
Write in your calendar when you plan to complete each chunk of work so you’ll have it done by the deadline.

 3) Stick to your timeline
Creating a timeline for your work doesn’t do any good if you don’t hold yourself accountable to the checkpoints you set for yourself.

Good luck with your Time Diets this week!

Connect with The Time Diet! Get weekly blog updates and find out about Time Diet events in your area.

Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Grant Cochrane

Time Management Lessons from College Football

In the fall, the desire to watch college football all day long on Saturday really challenges my time management. Sitting in front of the TV, sporting my jersey and eating hot wings sounds so much more appealing than grading projects for class. However, yesterday I realized that we can actually learn a lot about time management by watching college football.

4 Time Management Lessons on the Football Field

1. Don’t Risk a “Delay of Game”
It may be tempting to wait until the last second to run a play, but if you wait too long, you’ll be charged a 5-yard “delay of game” penalty. With our work, we may have our reasons to procrastinate, but is it worth the risks if our deadline’s “play clock” runs out?

2. Play All Four Quarters
How many games have you watched where the team looks great in either the first or fourth quarter, but ends up losing because they played poorly the rest of the game? The same is true for our work. We need to spread out our energy. Push too hard in the beginning and you’ll burn out. Save it all for the end and it’ll be too little too late. Pace yourself, find your rhythm and ride that momentum in for the win.

3. You Can’t Always Wait for Perfection
If the quarterback doesn’t immediately see an open receiver, he has to quickly make the decision to either run the ball or throw it away, lest he get sacked behind the line of scrimmage waiting for the perfect pass to open up. When we are working, there comes a point when trying for perfection becomes a waste of time. If you consistently miss deadlines for your boss because you were striving for an unattainable level of perfection, you may find yourself being “sacked” as well!

4. Make Time for Motivation
Do you think football coaches spend every single second they have with their team running plays? Of course not. Coaches recognize that their players need inspiration and make team building and motivation part of the locker room experience on game day. Make time for your own motivation. Take time to connect with your “team.” It will make your work time infinitely more enjoyable and productive.

Connect with The Time Diet! Get weekly blog updates and find out about upcoming Time Diet events in your area!

Technorati Keywords: Time Management, College,

Picture Credit: Ron Almog