I learned time management by reading books by John Maxwell, Steven Covey and Benjamin Franklin. This skill has made a world of difference in my life. But I couldn’t expect my high school foreign language students to do what I did. So I simplified what I learned and created a short lesson.
I wanted my students to know how to manage their time, so they would be able to complete their homework assignments and projects. I ended my language lesson a little early one Friday and asked them to take out paper and pen.
I told students I wanted to help them have time for fun, while still finishing their school work. This got their attention. I explained during the two years I was in South Africa, I worked pretty much all the time. I knew I wanted to “get a life” when I came back to the US. To do so, I needed to identify my goals. I wrote my five goals on the board in front of my classroom.
1. Spend more time with family and friends.
2. Increase my level of fitness.
3. Have fun.
4. Buy a dog.
5. Earn enough money to live comfortably.
I answered any questions they had and asked them to suggest something I might want or need to do during the coming weekend. As they shouted out suggestions, I wrote about fifteen of them on the board. They included chores like doing laundry, going shopping, cleaning the house, grading papers, and fun activities like going to the beach, going to the movies, etc.
I told students to put an “A” by the most important activity or chore, “B” by the next significant and “C” next to those not really important at all. They all said grading papers was most important. I asked them where that appeared on my list of goals. It may have been important to the school or to them, but work was low on my list, so it only received a “C”, the lowest of the three choices. They understood. It was a real eye opener for them. We went through all activities on the board until they all had letters next to them.
Then we ranked the items in each category by urgency, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. So all items on the list were identified according to the time management grid: Important-Urgent, Important-Not Urgent, Not Important-Urgent, Not Important-Not Urgent.
This lesson helped them schedule their time by their priorities, not those of someone else. It may have been most important for them to do school work, since it would help them reach their college goals. But my goals were not theirs. My goal was to get a life. After this little exercise, they understood the first step in time management is always to identify long term and short term goals. When they did so, they finished more school work while experiencing less stress and having more fun.
For more information, you’ll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.
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