In the grand scheme of things, every hour is but another hour. Imagine, though, what you might accomplish in your finest hour. Any hour can be your best if you apply our 12 Days of Time Management for Teens:
Only Think When Necessary
Have you ever felt so brain-dead that you wanted nothing more than to collapse on a couch and watch your favorite movie? Do you feel that way every day? Maybe you’re thinking too much!
Cognition and mental processing are ultimately physical functions. Pushing too hard physically exhausts a person. If you’ve ever taken a really long standardized test, you know how draining that experience can be as well.
When you take the time to think about it (not too hard though), our brains are greedy. Though they account for less that 2% of our mass, brains consume far more energy than any other organ, just about 20% of our daily expenditure. Just as you wouldn’t want to push a car past its limits until it overheats, you want to manage your brain’s cognitive load by managing tasks judiciously.
Separate everything you need to accomplish in a given period into two categories. The first category — “Requires Thought” — should include all important academic assignments along with any other tasks that demand attention and judgment. All other tasks, such as answering emails and texts or performing routine chores, can be assigned to the “Requires No Thought” category. Then commit to taking care of tasks in the first category (and only that category) until your brain needs a break. Spend five or ten minutes polishing off brainless tasks until you’re ready to get back to the tough work of thinking.
Luminaries of productivity learn when their mental faculties are at their peaks, then take advantage of that time to knock out essential tasks that require thought. You can do the same. Focus on what matters when you are most capable and save the mindless work for when your mind inevitably needs a break.
The 12 Days of Time Management for Teens is inspired by and draws liberally from Etienne Garbugli’s excellent Slideshare presentation, 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20. Obviously, we think this advice is valuable even for students younger than 20!