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 make it easy to create a new task, edit its color, icon, or duration, move it to the top or bottom of the list, or delete it with a tap — or swipe — of your fingers.
It makes time visible.
In contrast to most digital timers, 30/30 displays time in a graphical pie chart format that looks more like an analog than a digital clock, and is is much easier to understand in a quick glance than a digital readout.
When kids set a timer for 20 minutes and 10 minutes have gone by, they will see very clearly on the screen that they only have half of their total time remaining.
They can also easily adjust their time estimates with a tap of a button, if they discover their initial estimates were way off (which they often are, especially at first)!
It helps students prioritize & allocate their time.
With 30/30, students can create a list of their homework for the evening, estimate how long they think each one will take, rearrange them in order of priority, add in time for breaks, dinner, etc. and then see when the timer estimates they will be finished with all of their work.
Note: This feature is not turned on by default, but you can enable it by going to settings, and turning ON the “show time” and “show duration” settings.
Having a way to see how long ALL of their homework will take, from start to finish, is very valuable for students.
It’s often easy for students to convince themselves (and tell you!) that they’ll do something “later”…without thinking about exactly when later will be, or the fact that they may have other things to do during that time.
It’s much harder to do this kind of magical thinking when everything is mapped out for them to look at, because they can see that taking a long time to finish one assignment, or taking an extra-long break, is going to shorten the amount of time they get to relax AFTER their homework is finished…or reduce the amount of sleep they get.
Who can benefit from this tool?
The 30/30 app can be a great solution for students who have trouble keeping track of time, who tend to spend too much time doing homework, or who have trouble allocating time among assignments and often end up spending a lot of time on one…and not enough time on the rest of them.
It can also help students who often insist that their homework won’t take very long…but then realize once they get started that there’s a lot more to do than they thought, and they’re either going to run out of time to finish all their work or have to stay up late in order to finish it.
An alternative solution
Since 30/30 is only available on iPad and iPhone devices, it will not work for students with an Android device.
It also might not be the best solution if your teen is easily distracted by technology, and they don’t have an internet blocking application set up on their iPad and/or iPhone (see my recent article for more information about how to do this).
In these situation, an alternative solution can be to use a Time Timer (http://Time Timer.com). While Time Timers do not allow students to set a series of timers in the same way that 30/30 does, they DO help students develop the ability to visualize their time, and can be a useful tool for helping students learn how to estimate the amount of time that individual assignments will take.
I hope this is helpful!
If you have any questions about how to use these tools, or any other questions about how to help students manage their time effectively, please feel free to email me anytime and I’ll be happy to help!