Time management is a crucial soft skill
Unfortunately in our timebound world, there are only so many hours in a day, which inherently limits what we can physically accomplish. Between getting proper sleep, eating, exercising, and required tasks for work or school, some days it can seem near impossible to get through your entire to-do list and still have time for self-care or leisure activities.
Enter: time management!
Time management is the practice of organizing our activities and planning how much time should be dedicated to different tasks, and the most effective students and employees all share something in common: they are probably very good at managing their time.
While you may be familiar with time management and the role it plays in your own life, you may be wondering what good time management looks like for a young adult and the value it adds to future success. Well, time management is one of the most essential skills for students to learn as they begin preparing for college and beyond.
The benefits of strong time management skills
From young adulthood through retirement (and beyond!), time management is a valuable skill that enables maximum productivity and efficiency in our work.
For teens and college students, good time management makes it easier to complete a potentially hefty workload while still allowing time in the schedule for extracurricular activities and leisure. As important as school work is, the connections they form and things they learn outside the classroom during their college years can sometimes be the most crucial to future success, so making time for these activities is beneficial. In addition, time management can lower stress levels, which are already at their peak in those formative college years.
And time management is equally as important when students graduate and enter the workforce. They will be required to manage a list of tasks or projects and will not have the safety net of college or their parents, so time management becomes a crucial skill for success. On top of simply getting tasks done efficiently and with less stress, time management allows your child more time for professional advancement by building a reputation as an effective employee and making space in their schedule for continued learning.
Tips for ensuring your child is learning good time management skills
As parents and educators, we want to ensure our children and students are set up for success, and time management is one of those skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Mastering time management certainly takes some practice, but there are a few essential actions parents can take at home to ensure their children are developing their time management skills.
Encourage goal setting
One of the foundations of building strong time management skills is to learn how to set actionable and attainable goals, both small and large. While we often think of “goal setting” as some large, aspirational activity – and in some cases, it is – setting goals can happen on a much smaller scale, as well, and can act as a tool for prioritization when it comes to managing time effectively. In practice, this may look like asking your child to commit to how much of a book they’re going to read before bed or how much of their school project they can complete during the week.
As your child gets older, you can start thinking bigger with goals and even integrate SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals, which requires your child to think more intentionally about deadlines and specific tactics to achieve their goals.
Another key foundation of time management is prioritization, because, when a to-do list gets long enough, finding a place to start can be the most difficult task. Teach your child how to assign importance to each of their tasks to help them balance priorities.
You can even employ a tactic like the A-B-C method created by Alan Lakein, which requires your student to assign priority levels to each task on their docket. “A” being things that must be completed as soon as possible; “B” being things that should be done as soon as possible but aren’t quite as critical as “A” items; and “C” being the lowest stakes items that won’t have too many negative consequences if they need to be pushed.
By teaching your child how to prioritize, they will get better at recognizing what needs to be done, when they need to be done, and the time required to get it done.
While your child may object, there is certainly a need for accountability when it comes to time management, and by teaching your child to hold themselves accountable, in turn, they will get better at managing themselves and their time without too much assistance. Like time management, accountability isn’t a skill that can be learned overnight, but gentle reminders with some positive reinforcement sprinkled in can help build a foundation needed for effective accountability for time.
Here at Clackamas Middle College, we strive to teach our students "soft" skills – as well as "hard" skills! – they need to succeed in college and beyond. Contact us to learn more about our balanced and inclusive approach to college preparation.