Do you find yourself rushing to complete your homework assignment at the last moment? Are you always starting your homework when you're supposed to be going to bed? The root of this common problem may be time management.
This easy exercise will help you identify the tasks or habits that take time away from your studies and help you develop more healthy homework habits.
Keeping Track of Your Time
The first goal of this exercise is to get you to think about how you spend your time. For instance, how much time do you think you spend on the phone per week? The truth may surprise you.
First, make list of common time-consuming activities:
- Talking on the phone
- Listening to music, lounging
- Watching TV
- Playing games/surfing web
- Spending time with family
Make a Chart
Using your list of activities, create a chart with five columns.
Keep this chart on hand at all times for five days and keep track of all the time you spend on each activity. This will be tough sometimes, since you probably spend a lot of time going rapidly from one activity to the other or doing two at once.
For example, you may watch TV and eat at the same time. Just record the activity as one or the other. This is an exercise, not a punishment or a science project. Don't pressure yourself!
Once you have tracked your time for a week or so, take a look at your chart. How do your actual times compare with your estimates?
If you are like most people, you may be shocked to see how much time you spend doing things that are unproductive.
Does homework time come in last place? Or family time? If so—you're normal. In fact, there are many things that should take more time than homework. But surely there are some problem areas that you can identify, as well. Are you spending four hours a night watching TV? Or playing video games?
You certainly deserve your leisure time. But to have a healthy, productive life, you should have a good balance among family time, homework time, and leisure time.
Set New Goals
When tracking your time, you may find that you spend some time on things you just can't classify. Whether we're sitting on the bus staring out the window, waiting in line for a ticket, or sitting at the kitchen table staring out the window, we all spend time doing, well—nothing.
Look over your activity chart and determine areas you could target for improvement. Then, start the process over again with a new list.
Make new time estimates for each task or activity. Set goals for yourself, allowing more time for homework and less time on one of your weaknesses, like TV or games.
You will soon see that the mere act of thinking about how you spend your time will bring about a change in your habits.
Suggestions for Success
- Don't work alone. Some of us need support to stick to something. A little competition with a friend always makes things more interesting. Work with a friend, compare notes, lists, and charts. Make a game of it!
- Include your parent. Get your mom or dad involved and have them keep track of the time they waste. Not that might be interesting!
- Negotiate a reward system. Whether you work with a friend or a parent, work out a system for rewarding yourself for progress. If working with a friend, you could agree to provide lunch or dinner for the time-saving winner each week.
If working with a parent, you could negotiate an extended curfew for every increased minute devoted toward homework. Perhaps you could even substitute dollars for minutes. The possibilities are endless!
- Have a party for reaching a goal. Even if you're working on your own, you could promise yourself a party as a reward for reaching a specific goal.
- Make it a class project. This would be a great project for an entire class. The teacher or group leader could keep track of progress with a flow chart. When the class reaches a goal as a group—it's party time!