The Art of Prioritizing Your Workload:
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“tricks of the trade”[/pullquote]
Children and teens these days face challenges of focusing and staying on task that might be difficult for even veteran professionals to manage. So how can modern kids stay focused, prioritize their workloads, and succeed?
A strong support network is an excellent start. Beyond that, utilizing the very platforms and technologies that can distract us can be a great strategy for success.
And finally, learning the “tricks of the trade” as well as the importance of acknowledging the direct correlation between effort and reward will start our kids on a proven path to successfully managing their work — and ultimately, to success.
Develop a Support Network — And Use it!
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Before one even begins to prioritize their workload, they must first think about their support network.[/pullquote]
Before one even begins to prioritize their workload, they must first think about their support network. A support network can include parents, your teachers, tutors, friends and siblings. It can also include Internet sites such as the Khan Academy which are set up to help support students in learning.
The key to developing a healthy support network lies in understanding that it is there solely to support the individual and their needs. As you seek help and support from various people and sources around you, take note of how successful each interaction is. There is no blame involved here, but some sources of support will be better suited to your needs in different situations.
Consider Khan Academy. Some kids love Sal Khan’s calm voice and the stripped down basic way he explains subjects. Others don’t feel supported by his teaching methods. For them, insisting on using Khan Academy would be an inefficient use of their time and a poor way to develop support.
It can be tricky to navigate this area in personal relationships, because a lot of well-meaning people want what’s best, but in the same way, a one size fits all approach does not work. Begin to know who you can rely on for support and who explains things to you in a way that makes sense.
Tools of the Prioritizing Trade:
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Keeping track of what needs to be done on a calendar is an important first step.[/pullquote]
Students these days are busy. Life is full of sports, music, friends, and a whole host of distractions both “in real life” and on the Internet.
Keeping track of what needs to be done on a calendar is an important first step. Whether digital or a paper appointment calendar, keeping your calendar up-to-date is crucial in prioritizing your workload.
For digital calendars, consider Google Calendar or Apple Calendar. If you prefer paper appointment calendars, find one that is distraction-free and has been made with students in mind.
A well-kept calendar does a few important things:
- Aids in communication. When you notice that you have an out-of-town sports competition coming in 3 weeks, and your history teacher has posted a due date for an essay the day you are due to arrive back, you can (and should) communicate with your teacher early. Teachers appreciate this advance notice and can often help with scheduling conflicts.
- Allows you to see patterns. You will begin to notice that, perhaps, Mondays are always full for you. Knowing this, you can begin to take time on Sunday evening to prepare for Mondays, making sure you have everything ready for that extra-busy day.
- Helps you “triage” your workload. When you have everything written on a calendar, conflicts become apparent immediately. There are going to be times that you will have to choose to stay home and study, or miss an event. When you plan for these times in advance, there is less chaos and confusion. Yes, you may be disappointed, but the advance notice can help you manage these times.
Try colour coding your calendar, using different colours for different types of activities. For example, red for sports, green for friends, and blue for tests. That way, you can easily see what types of activities tend to take up much of your time. You can also see, at a glance, when conflicts arise.
To Do Lists:
Also consider using to-do lists. Again, either a digital to-do list or the tried-and-true pen and paper method can work. Consider this great annotated list of apps to use as to-do lists. Whichever method works for you, beginning to take the time to write down your lists each day will help you to see what you need to do and what can wait.
Urgent Versus Important: Learn the Difference:
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Your support network will help you stay calm and focused as you break down those big important tasks into smaller, easy to digest chunks and work through them.[/pullquote]
One key to successful prioritization is to learn the difference between things that seem urgent and the tasks that are truly important.
And to do the important things first.
It’s not always easy to know the difference, but urgent things will feel like you must do them now, while the important things are often the nagging things that you know you should do…but just can’t seem to get started.
An easy example of urgent versus important is social media versus your final exam. Obviously the exam is the priority, but social media seems so, well, urgent. It’s immediate, it demands your attention, and there’s always just a bit of drama there.
Other times the distinction is not as simple. Studying for that final exam can quickly become urgent if you leave it to the last minute.
It’s a process that we learn throughout our student years, but taking small steps early to complete an important task reduces the amount of unnecessary urgent things you must do now.
This is where both your support network and your calendar will come in handy. Your calendar is there to show you, clearly, the important things that are coming up, so that you can plan for them. Your support network will help you stay calm and focused as you break down those big important tasks into smaller, easy to digest chunks and work through them.
Effort Equals Reward:
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Better grades, better sleep habits[/pullquote]
Once you begin to set your priorities and work toward important goals, you will see that your effort results in rewards. Better grades, better sleep habits, and less anxiety are all things that can come from taking the time to set your priorities and work toward the important things in your life.