I learned time management by reading 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 all of this reading. So I simplified what I learned and created a short lesson.
I wanted 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 them I wanted to help them have time for fun, while still finishing their school work. This got their attention. I explained when I was in South Africa for two years; I worked pretty much all the time. When I decided to come back to the U.S., I knew I wanted to “get a life”. To do so, I needed to identify specifics. I wrote five goals on the board.
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 their questions about my goals. Then I asked them to suggest something I might want or need to do during the upcoming 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 task, “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 it was not on my list, so it only received a “C”, the lowest of the three choices. They understood. It was a real eye opener. We went through all activities 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 placed into 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 own 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 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.
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