Time management

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Making the Most of the End of the Semester

Students often wait until the final week before exams to study, believing they will remember the material better if they study it closer to the time of the exam.  It's true that the material will seem more familiar if they have seen it more recently, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to recall it on the test.  In order to remember what we’ve learned, we need repeated practice recalling it from memory and applying it to practice problems.This makes sense if we think about how we practice a sport, or a musical instrument.  In these contexts, we intuitively understand short-term “cramming” doesn’t work.  Can you imagine a football team waiting until the week before playoffs to practice, and then staying up late – putting in hours on the field – to “cram” before the big game?  Of course not.  No team would practice that way…and if they did, they would certainly lose the game.Yet, students often attempt to study hard right before their final exams.  In addition to leaving less time to study, “cramming” also causes students to…Feel stressedWorry about the testAdopt quick and ineffective study strategiesStore the material they learn in short-term, rather than long-term, memoryLose

How 30/30 can help students manage their time

Do your kids have trouble estimating how long things will take? Do they often put off starting homework until too late in the evening...and then realize that it's going to take far longer than they’d anticipated?Estimating how much time tasks will take can be challenging, even for adults!And this is even more difficult for students, who are still in the process of developing their ability to plan ahead and manage their time effectively.30/30 to the rescue!30/30 is a free app, for iPhone and iPad devices, which a number of my students have found helpful when trying to get a better handle on how long it will take them to complete their homework.While it's not the perfect solution for every student, there are a number of things this app does really well that make it an effective tool for many kids (and adults!).  It’s fun to use! Of all the time management apps I recommend my students, this is the one they get the most excited about when I first introduce them to it. The colors, sounds, and gesture-based interface make the app a lot of fun for students to use, so they're more likely to enjoy using it and stick with it over time. There are gestures available that

By |March 18th, 2016|Categories: Time management|0 Comments

Taming technology distractions: Internet blocking apps for students

Do you feel like you're always having to police your kids, telling them to put away their phone and computer so they can start their homework? Are you concerned about how the phone and computer are affecting their ability to stay focused on their assignments, and complete their work efficiently? Even when teens have good intentions to sit down and focus on their homework, technology is such an enormous part of students lives, is often very difficult for them to turn it off. And for many students, turning technology off completely is impossible, because their assignments are posted online, so they need access to their computer in order to complete their work. However, once they’re on the computer, there are about a million other things to do that are more interesting than homework.   If only there was a way for kids to have access to the sites they need for their homework, without being distracted by everything else on their computer! ...Introducing web blocking apps There are actually a number of apps that allow students to do exactly that — block the distracting websites & apps on their computer and phone, while giving them access to the sites they need to complete their homework.  If this sounds like

Prioritizing homework: What to do first?

"What's the best way to prioritize homework?" "Should I do the easiest assignments first?  Or the hardest ones?" I’ve heard from a number of parents and students recently who have been wondering how to prioritize homework. It’s sometimes hard to know whether starting with easier or harder assignments is better, because there are benefits to both approaches... Starting with the easiest assignments...Reduces the risk of procrastinationGives students a quick ‘win’ so they feel encouraged to continueGets some assignments checked off the list quickly, so there are fewer things to think about Starting with the hardest assignments...Enables students to tackle their most difficult work when their focus & energy level are highestGets the most challenging work out of the way, so the rest of the homework feels easier & more enjoyablePrioritizes work that is a large percentage of students’ grade, and/or the classes where they need the most improvement Since there are pros and cons to each approach, how do you know which one to choose? For the majority of my students, I actually recommend using a blend of the two approaches.  What I like it do is...Start with an EASY assignmentTackle a CHALLENGING assignmentTake a short break...then repeat until the work is finished! Here is a diagram of what

Is homework taking forever? Try taking more breaks.

 Now that we're a few weeks into school, students are starting to spend more time doing homework in the evenings.  The standard guideline for homework is that students should be spending approximately 10 minutes a night doing homework per grade level.  So, that equates to an hour each night for a 6th grader, and 2 hours for a senior in high school. Unfortunately, many students spend far more time on homework than this, which is frustrating for them and their parents. So, what can we do to help students work more efficiently? Somewhat counter-intuitively, one answer is to take more frequent breaks! Study breaks provide a number of important benefits, including...Less procrastination. When homework seems challenging, students often put off starting it until as late as possible.  However, if they know they're only committing to work for 30 minutes or so, and then they will get another break, it's often easier to get started.  More focus. When there's a clear distinction between work time & break time, it's easier to distinguish between "work time" and "break time" activities (texting, etc.). It's also easier for students to resist tempting distractions if they know they'll be able to to whatever they want on their next break... instead of until

Why students procrastinate (Hint: it’s not what you think)

How does your teen respond to deadlines & due dates? Do they typically...a) Get started on their work as soon as it's assigned?  b) Wait until the due date approaches before they begin?c) Delay starting their work until (or past!) the last possible second? While many students argue that waiting to start their work is "no big deal", procrastinating can actually have some pretty serious costs. For some students, it means they don't have time to finish their work before the deadline...so they're getting low zeros on uncompleted assignments and low grades on tests for which they weren't prepared. Other kids manage to meet the deadlines by staying up late to complete their work...but end up feeling stressed out, exhausted, and coming down with frequent colds & illnesses.  And these are just the short-term costs. In the long term, high levels of procrastination are associated with lower salaries, shorter terms of employment, and a greater likelihood of being unemployed or under employed rather than working full‐time (Nguyen et al. 2013). WHY do students procrastinate? Given all the problems procrastination creates, why is this such a common and widespread problem? Why don't students learn to avoid it?  We used to think that procrastination was due to a character flaw, and that people who put things off until the last minute were simply lazy, or unmotivated. In

Tame scheduling chaos with a family Google Calendar

There’s so much going on during the school year,  it can sometimes be hard to keep track of what everyone is doing and when it all is happening!A great way to tame the scheduling chaos, and minimize back-to-school stress, is to create a SHARED Family Google Calendar. This way, you all can all share events with each other, and see at a glance what everyone else has on the calendar.   You can add and edit events on the go, so they can be recorded the moment you learn about them, rather than waiting until you get home or have time to write them in a planner. And your calendars will always be in sync, because as soon as one person edits an event, everyone else will see the changes happening in real time. Want to try it out?Here’s how…

A Back-to-school Checklist for Proactive Students

Getting ready to go back to school can be a busy time. There’s a lot to do, and it can be hard to stay on top of everything, especially for parents who have multiple kids’ schedules and school supply lists to keep track of.  For parents, encouraging teens to take a more active role in their back-to-school preparation is a great opportunity to help them become more responsible and independent…and reduce everyone’s stress level in the process! To help with this process, I’ve created a back-to-school checklist (below), which which you can share with your teen, and use as a printable to-do list OR as a list of ideas to keep in mind as they create their own to-do list. Depending on your teen, their school, and your family, you will probably think of other ideas you want to include in this plan as well, but this can at least help you to get started.  Back-to-School To-Do List:   Write down your goals for this semester.  Writing down your goals dramatically increases the chances that you will reach them. Consider including goals for your grades, your study habits & organization,  extracurricular activities, friends and family relationships, and learning & personal growth.        Review +

What are your Summer Goals? (Free Printable PDF)

Do you ever find yourself getting to the end of summer break, wondering how the time flew by so quickly? There is often so much going on in the summer, it’s easy to let the time drift by without noticing…until you suddenly realize it’s almost gone, and you haven’t done half of the things you were hoping to.  One way to fit more fun & enjoyment into the summer months, is to take some time at the start of your break to consider how you’d like to spend your time…

How SMART are your goals?

Now that we’re halfway through the semester, this is a great time for students to do a little mental time traveling...   First... Think back in time to where you were at the beginning of the semester.  What were your expectations and goals for this semester?     Jumping back to the future, does it look like you're on track to meet those goals?   If not, what could you change about your approach in the second half of the semester to turn things around?   Now... Fast forward and imagine that the rest of the semester goes really well, and now you're at the end of the semester, looking back at what you've achieved.  What are you proud of yourself for doing?     Coming back to the present, what could you do NOW that would make you feel really AWESOME at the end of the school year?    Once you have a vision in mind for what you’re hoping to accomplish, the next step — of course — is to put it into action.    This is where a lot of students get stuck.   They know some things they could be doing to make things better…but aren’t doing them.   There are a number of possible explanations

By |March 20th, 2015|Categories: Motivation, Time management|0 Comments