Habit #3: Put First Things First
All tasks on your to do list are not created equal(ly). That’s why it is essential for us to prioritize.
Over the years, I have realized that this does not come naturally for most of my students. Most of us (myself included), like to complete the things we like to do the most first. But does this really make sense? Should you read your book for English first if you have a math test the next day?
Covey gives us a wonderful time management matrix that students (and adults!) can use to better manage their time.
He encourages people to spend most of their time in Quadrant II. This is a happy medium between putting out fires (writing a paper the night before it’s due) and working on non-important things (organizing your iTunes).
How I Help Teens with Time Management
Time management is an enormous part of success, and it is something that my students and I incorporate into every session. Below are a few tried and true tips.
Set Aside a Designated Day for Weekly Planning
I see most of my students on Sundays, and we spend the beginning of every Sunday session mapping out our week. Then we take a look at the week as a whole and we go over which nights are going to be heavier than others. (Do they have basketball practice that night? Better do that assignment on Tuesday then!)
Before Starting Homework, Come Up with a Game Plan
Never start anything without looking at your planner first. Don’t just whip out a math worksheet you have due the next day. Take out the planner, and map out what you need to accomplish for the day. Write a To Do List for that day, putting “first things first”.
Half Begun is Half Done
This little nugget of wisdom comes from my mom, and it is SO true! A task can seem overwhelming and scary, but the trick is to just get started. The moment you begin working on something instead of putting it off, you relieve a whole bunch of stress.
Use the NO Button
I always tell my students that part of prioritizing means learning how to press the NO button. There are only so many hours in the day.
Lose the Cell Phone or Disconnect the Internet (if it’s not necessary)
Texts, snapchats, etc. are far too tempting when you’re knee deep in Calculus problems. It is nearly impossible to achieve 100% focus when your phone is buzzing and beeping every 5 minutes. Why spend twice as long completing an assignment? Get finished faster with 100% focus!