Improve Time Management

Time management involves the ability to respond to things in a timely fashion, estimate the time necessary to complete tasks, and to make and follow a schedule. It often involves monitoring your own effort and actions, having an appropriate sense of urgency to complete tasks, and having the ability to follow a step-by-step procedure. In order to improve time management, one must be able to efficiently budget time and accurately estimate how long it should take to complete something.

Home and School Situations Requiring Time Management

  • Working well under pressure
  • Completing in-class and homework assignments on time
  • Working on homework for at least 15 minutes consecutively
  • Prioritizing important things, such as school, over leisure
  • Arriving at or leaving places on time
  • Leaving oneself enough time to complete tasks
  • Waking up on time
  • Getting ready in time to catch the school bus

Hints and Strategies to Improve Time Management

1. Help your child to estimate the time needed for tasks. Knowing how long tasks might take is helpful in prioritizing them. Encourage your child to create a list of things they need to accomplish and to write an estimate of how long they think it will take to complete each of the items. After doing the tasks, you child would check how long the activities actually took and compare the time to his/her original estimations. Doing this on a routine basis can help your child to become more accurate in time estimation and lead to improvements in his overall time management.

2. Maintain a daily to-do list with your child. Post a dry-erase board in a prominent area in the home that states “To Do” on the top, followed by the date. Create two columns, one for you one for your child. Develop a regular morning (or evening-before) routine of listing two to four priorities for the coming day. As your child gets better at doing this, it may be possible to increase the number of postings per day. Generate a longer list of items and use the process of erasing them to prioritize what might be reasonable to do on a given day. This would show a willingness to move tasks around to help set realistic goals.

3. Reward time management. If your child can budget their time to finish schoolwork after school, then perhaps allow them to watch a favorite movie or program later that night. By rewarding behaviors, your child will become more apt to complete tasks on time and maintain good prioritization.

4. Help your child break down bigger tasks into smaller ones. In order to successfully budget time, large tasks should be broken down into certain days and times. For example, if your child has a science fair project due in a month, you can help by breaking down the task into weeks and require that certain parts of the project be done by the end of each week.

5. Make certain tasks into a friendly competition. For example, to get some tasks done by a certain time, such as household chores, you might say “Let’s see if you can beat the timer.” By doing this, your child will have motivation to finish the task at hand.

6. Use interesting technologies to help manage time and set deadlines. Many children love to use cell-phones to communicate with friends. Cell-phones can be particularly useful for remembering homework, setting alarms and deadlines, and providing reminders for activities. Require that (s)he use his cell-phone for these types of time management technologies.

7. If you struggle with time management yourself, acknowledge this, and work on making small but identifiable improvements. Many children who struggle with time management have parents who experience similar problems. View improving your own time management skills as your responsibility, in order to teach your child these skills. Set realistic goals that you articulate in front of your child. For example, you might choose to make school lunches the evening before school rather than in the morning, so that you have more time for getting everyone ready for school. Other small changes such as using paper plates to reduce the amount of clean up after dinner, or purchasing and posting an extra large calendar in a public area, display how you are working to improve your own time management skills. This will assist your child in applying these same skills to themselves.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Time Management

“Boggle,” “Catch Phrase,” and other board games that use a timer – Games which require the use a timer allow players to practice using an allotted amount of time appropriately.

Preparing dinner – Have your child help prepare dinner and plan how to time all menu items so they will be complete around the same time.

Video games where working quickly produces gains – Games such as “Super Mario Bros”  reward players for performing tasks quickly, which can help your child to practice efficiency and time management.

“Dance Dance Revolution,” “Guitar Hero,” and “Rock Band “- Limit the amount of time your child can play one of these games and challenge them to reach a particular level by that end time to allow them to practice working under pressure.

Websites and Articles on Time Management

LearningWorks For Kids: The premier resource for executive function information, offering a detailed explanation of time management, tips for parents, and activities to improve this skill.

University of Florida: This site provides comprehensive tips for helping your child with developing positive time management skills. It will help with time management in areas from waking up in the morning, to after school activities, to a bedtime routine.

ADDitudes: This article focuses on how to instill time management skills in children with ADHD in the classroom. Many of the same techniques can be applied within the home.

New York Kids Club: This blog is a great way to learn some new ways to help your child with time management, providing five distinct ways to go about achieving this executive function.

Books on Time Management

A Teens Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Jennifer Shannon, LMFT.  (Ch. 7,13)  “In this fun and illustrated guide, author Jennifer Shannon blends acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral strategies to help you recognize your procrastination habits, discover the strengths of your unique procrastination type, and find the motivation you need to meet important deadlines and reach your highest goals.”- Amazon 

Boosting Executive Skills in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Educators by Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Margaret Foster. (Ch.3)“A guide for helping students with weak Executive Function skills to learn efficiently and effectively” -Amazon

Executive Functioning Workbook by Melissa Mullin, PhD. and Karen Fried, Psy.D. (Unit 3)“This EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING WORKBOOK increases student’s ability to plan, start, and finish work independently. It identifies student’s aims and challenges, builds thinking skills, and provides tools to help build organizational strategies.”- Amazon

Executive Functioning Skills Printables Workbook: For Students Learning Life Skills S.B. Linton (Pg.19-24)“For teens and youth with special needs. These are Executive Functioning Skills Printables Worksheets for Students with Autism, Similar Special Needs, ADHD, LD and Executive Functioning Needs.”- Amazon

Executive Functioning Workbook for Kids: 40 Fun Activities to Build Memory, Flexible Thinking, and Self-Control Skills at Home, in School, and Beyond by Sharon Grand, PhD, BCN. (Ch.4)“Help kids grow their executive functioning skills with activities for ages 6 to 9!”- Amazon

Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens by Earl Hipp. (Ch.7)“Fresh edition of a popular title offers teens straightforward advice on stress management, anxiety reduction, and digital well-being.”- Amazon

Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens  by Barbara Oakley, PhD, and Terrence Sejnowski, PhD. (Ch.3)“Learning How to Learn teaches them about the importance of both focused concentration and letting their minds wander, how the brain makes connections between different pieces of information, the value of metaphors in developing understanding, why procrastination is the enemy of problem solving, and much more.” – Amazon

Learning to Plan and Be Organized: Executive Function Skills for Kids With AD/HD by Kathleen Nadeau, PhD. (Ch.8)“Featuring real-life advice, strategies, and tips, Learning to Plan and Be Organized is a practical guide that teaches kids with AD/HD how to enhance their executive function skills of planning and organization.” -Amazon

Organizational Skills Training for Children with ADHD by Richard Gallagher, Howard B. Abikiff, and Elana G. Spira. (Pt.2)“This indispensable manual presents an easy-to-implement intervention with proven effectiveness for children with ADHD in grades 3 to 5.”- Amazon

Playing Smarter in a Digital World: A Guide to Choosing and Using Popular Video Games and Apps to Improve Executive Functioning in Children and Teens by Randy Kulman, Ph.D. (Ch.16)“A book to help parents to make their children’s digital playtime educational”- Amazon

Scattered to Focused: Smart Strategies to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills by Zac Grisham  (Ch.9)“Set your child up for success with simple strategies to develop executive function in kids 4 to 12”- Amazon

School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools by Wendy L. Moss, PhD, and Robin A. DeLuca-Acconi, LSCW (Ch.6)“The book teaches students ways to reduce their anxiety, increase their confidence in school, and study more effectively.” – Amazon

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson, EdD, and Richard Guare, PhD (Ch.18)“Small changes can add up to big improvements–this empowering book shows how.”- Amazon

The Conscious Parent’s Guide To Executive Functioning Disorder by Rebecca Branstetter, PhD (Ch.7)“With the strategies and advice in this guide, you and your child will build sustainable bonds, develop positive behaviors, and improve executive functioning skills for life.” – Amazon

The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder: Strategies to help your child achieve the time-management skills, … needed to succeed in school and life by Rebecca Bransetter, PhD.  (Ch.8)“The vital skills children need to achieve their full potential!” – Amazon

The Organized Child : An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid’s Potential–in School and in Life by Richard Gallagher, PhD, Elana G. Spira, PhD, and Jennifer L. Rosenblatt, PhD.  (Ch.9)“Concrete examples, tips for strategically using praise and rewards, and practical tools (you can download and print additional copies as needed) help you implement each step of the program. Maximizing your kid’s potential starts now–here’s how.”- Amazon

The “Putting on the Brakes” Activity Book for Young People With ADHD by Patricia O’Quinn, M.D. | Judith M. Stern, M.A. (Pt.4)“Provides people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with suggestions, puzzles, and activities to help them understand and gain control over their condition and improve their study habits.”- Amazon

The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College by Stefanie Weisman. (Ch.2)“Stefanie Weisman, who was the Valedictorian of her High School, and received the Asher Green Award for having the highest GPA at Columbia University gives her thoughts on how your child can succeed in the higher levels of education.”- Amazon 

Train Your Brain for Success: A Teenager’s Guide to Executive Functions by Randy Kulman, Ph.D. (Ch.6)“Beginning with a test to determine executive-functioning strengths and weaknesses, the book then explores in detail eight distinct sets of skills, including planning, organization, focus, time management, self-control, , memory, and self-awareness.”- Amazon

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