How Can I Manage My Time?
How many more hours could you use in a day? ․․․․․
What would you use the extra time for?
□ To hang out with friends
□ To sleep
□ To study
□ Other ․․․․․
TIME is like a spirited horse—if it is to work for you, you must learn to control it. Control your time, and you will likely reduce your stress, improve your grades, and gain more trust from your parents. “Sounds great,” you say, “but it’s easier said than done!” True, you will face challenges. But you can overcome them. Let’s take some examples.
Challenge #1: Making a Schedule
What might stop you. Just the thought of scheduling makes you feel trapped! You like to be spontaneous, not tied to a plan.
Why do it anyway. King Solomon wrote: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.” (Proverbs 21:5) Solomon was a busy man. He was a husband, a father, and a king. And his life likely got busier as he grew older. Similarly, your life is busy now. But it will probably become more hectic as you grow older. Better that you become organized sooner rather than later!
What your peers say. “About six months ago, I started planning my schedule regularly. I was trying to make things easier, and having a schedule seemed to do the trick!”—Joey.
“Lists help keep me on track. When I have an extra-heavy load, my mom and I write it all down to figure out how we can help each other reach our goals.”—Mallory.
What will help you. Look at it this way: Suppose you’re going on a road trip. Each family member randomly throws his or her bags into the trunk of the car. It looks as though there won’t be enough room for everything. What can you do? You might start again, putting the biggest bags in first and fitting the smaller bags into the remaining space.
The same strategy can be used to manage your life. If you start filling up your time with smaller things, you risk not being able to fit in the important things. Make space for the big things first, and you’ll be amazed at how much more time you’ll have for the rest!—Philippians 1:10.
What are the most important things you need to do?
Now go back and prioritize—number the things you need to do in order of importance. If you get the big things done first, you may be surprised at how much time you’ll have left over to take care of the little things.
What you can do. Get a pocket planner, and prioritize what you need to do. On the other hand, perhaps one of the following alternatives below would work for you.
□ Cell-phone calendar
□ Small notepad
□ Computer calendar
□ Desk calendar
Challenge #2: Sticking to a Schedule
What might stop you. After school you just want to relax and watch TV for a few minutes. Or you plan to study for a test, but you get a text message inviting you to a movie. The movie won’t wait, but you can put off studying until tonight. ‘Besides,’ you tell yourself, ‘I seem to do better under pressure.’
Why do it anyway. You may earn a better grade if you study when your mind is more alert. Plus, don’t you already have enough pressure to deal with? Why add to it by cramming for a test late at night? What will the next morning be like? You may oversleep, feel more stress, have to rush out the door, and possibly be late for school.—Proverbs 6:10, 11.
What your peers say. “I love watching TV, playing the guitar, and being with friends. These things aren’t wrong; but sometimes they push the more important things back, and I end up rushing.”—Julian.
What will help you. Don’t just schedule things you have to do—schedule things you enjoy. “It’s easier to do what I have to, knowing I have enjoyable things planned later,” says Julian. Another idea: Have something to aim for, and then set little goals along the way to make sure you’re still on track.
What you can do. What are one or two realistic goals that you could achieve within the next six months?
What is a realistic goal you could achieve within the next two years, and what do you need to start doing now to reach that goal?a
Challenge #3: Being Neat and Organized
What might stop you. You’re not sure how being neat and organized has anything to do with managing your time better. Besides, being messy seems so much easier. Cleaning your room can be done tomorrow—or not at all! You don’t mind the mess, so it’s really not a big deal. Or is it?
Why do it anyway. Having everything neat and orderly will save you time when you are looking for your things. This will also give you much-needed peace of mind.—1 Corinthians 14:40.
What your peers say. “Sometimes when I don’t have time to put my clothes away, things I need find a way of getting lost under all the mess!”—Mandy.
“I couldn’t find my wallet for a week. I got pretty stressed over that. I finally found it when I cleaned my room.”—Frank.
What will help you. Try to put things back in their place as soon as you can. Do it regularly rather than waiting until clutter gets out of control.
What you can do. Try making neatness a habit. Keep everything neater, and see if it makes life easier.
Time is the one asset that you, your peers, and your parents all have the same amount of each day. Waste that asset, and you will suffer. Manage it wisely, and you will reap the rewards. The choice is up to you.
Are you the child of immigrant parents? Do you feel that you don’t fit in either at school or at home? Learn how to turn your circumstances to your advantage.
a For more information, see Chapter 39 of this book.
“Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.
Don’t try to apply all the suggestions made in this chapter at once. Instead, over the next month, apply just one of them. Once you’ve mastered that skill, choose another to work on.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Scheduling too many activities into a day will cause you stress. If you set priorities, you will know which activities to pursue and which to drop.
The activity I can spend less time at is ․․․․․
I will use the time I gain to do the following ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● How will learning to schedule your time now help you to manage your own home in the future?
● What lessons in time management can you learn from your parents?
● If you already use a schedule, what adjustments could you make for it to become more effective?
[Blurb on page 154]
“I overheard someone joking that if you wanted me to be somewhere by four o’clock, then you should tell me to be there by three. That’s when I realized that I need to manage my time better!”—Ricky
[Box on page 155]
Where Does My Time Go?
In a week’s time, on average, youths between the ages of 8 and 18 spent their hours this way:
with their parents
watching TV, playing video games, instant messaging, and listening to music
Add up the hours you spend each week
watching TV ․․․․․
playing video games ․․․․․
using the Internet ․․․․․
listening to music ․․․․․
Hours I can easily use for more important things ․․․․․
[Picture on page 153]
Time is like a spirited horse—you must learn to control it