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Must-have skill for children #4: preventing procrastination
According to data collected on studying habits, students who started studying two weeks before an exam scored an average of 95%. Students who started studying one week before scored an average of 81%. Students who started studying mere days before the exam scored an average of 71%. What does this tell us? It tells us how important a firm understanding of time management is for students.
Parents believe procrastination is the root problem, but it is actually one of the side effects of poor time management and it is becoming increasingly pervasive. The American Psychological Association revealed that 80 to 95% of college students procrastinate. On top of that, the number of people who consider themselves procrastinators has increased from 4-5% in the ‘70s to 20-30% today!
To protect your children from this epidemic, you need to teach them at a young age the importance of time management. If they manage their time better, it is less likely they will procrastinate on tackling important tasks for school. This will also improve many other areas of their lives, such as…
Contrary to belief, many people put things off because they have high expectations for themselves that they do not think they can actually meet. This is a sign of a debilitating characteristic known as perfectionism. However, good time management skills will make the task at hand more achievable. In particular, putting a task into a calendar and assigning it a time frame (such as 30 minutes) will get children moving just to get the task done. Less emphasis will be placed on the outcome.
Children will have to prioritise certain tasks depending on the importance and amount of time available. This is an important skill. Many procrastinators check off the easiest things on their to-do list, then call it a day with a false sense of productivity while the important things fester in the background. Children have to realise that if they do not get a start on that big project looming in the background that is worth half the term year, the little assignments they do along the way will not even matter.
On the other hand, if they only have 30 minutes between school and football practice, that would be the perfect time to schedule in that maths worksheet they got for homework. Take advantage of whatever time they can find! Plan accordingly!
Having said that, it is important that children also know when to prioritise self-care. Time management is not only for productivity but also for making sure there is still fun in their lives. They will realise that when they have time to themselves, instead of wasting that time idly by scrolling on social media, they could take full advantage of it to unwind.
You know the saying “work hard, play hard”? Sadly, many children do not let themselves fully immerse in the fun part of their day; as a result, they do not immerse in the working part of their day, either. The whole time throughout, they are distracted, unfocused, and restless. Nothing gets done. They waste a lot of time this way by thinking or wishing they were at another point in time. When playing, they think they should be working. When working, they wish they were playing. Let them pencil in some time to fully play with no concerns and to socialise with friends. Managing time the right way will help them have fun when they can and to get things done when they need to.
Time is extremely valuable, even more so for how irrecoverable it is. Many people do not understand how much time a task will take, so instead of starting early, they put it off until they are overwhelmed by the task. They cannot get all that precious time back.
Help children learn that certain things require more time than others, such as reading a book or writing an essay. By managing their own times for tasks like these, children will learn how to better estimate and manage time for other big undertakings. It will also teach them to be reliable when it comes to meeting deadlines or people on time.
As previously mentioned in the Must-Have Skill for Children #3: Goal Setting, children need to take responsibility for whatever goal they want to reach--and they can do that by setting clear timelines. If they do not do this, they will never reach that goal because there will be no time constraints pushing them forward. It is not only about deadlines but also about getting something--even a little bit--done everyday that will get them that much closer to what they want. Setting aside portions of their schedule for a specific purpose, particularly long-term goals, is a huge part of time management.
Dr. Ferrari, a professor of psychology, once told American Psychological Association, “Non-procrastinators focus on the task that needs to be done. They have a stronger personal identity and are less concerned about what psychologists call ‘social esteem’—how others like us—as opposed to self-esteem which is how we feel about ourselves.” Managing time provides your children with better self-esteem in just this way. They feel more responsible for themselves and in better control of their lives, both of which result in confidence!
One tip for parents is to not take over children’s schedules but to trust them to build their own. Of course, children cannot be given full autonomy--especially from the beginning--but you could start to loosen up the reigns. You could set aside a certain period of time everyday for children to decide on their own schedules, as well as ask for their opinions.
Another tip is to reward rather than punish children if they fail to meet a goal or deadline. Punishing will actually breed more procrastination and reluctance to use time wisely in the future. Highlight how much they did manage to accomplish and help them to adjust accordingly in the future to complete the same task. They need the experience to learn how much time they need for various activities; and therefore, they should not be punished for the learning process.
Now that you know the importance of time management and how to go about helping children learn this must-have skill, your children are already one step closer toward mastering the JEI Self-Learning Method®. Looking for more fun and helpful activities to pencil into your children’s schedule? Check out our JEI programmes here!