Managing your time

To be healthy and happy you need enough time to

  • do everything you have to do
  • do some of the things you want to do
  • rest.

As you go through your teenage years, you will become gradually more and more responsible for managing your own time rather than relying on parents, carers or teachers to do it for you. To manage your time as effectively as possible, you need to:

  • make plans
  • avoid wasting time.

Make plans

Start by getting yourself a planner that works for you. This could be an online tool on your phone, tablet or computer, or a traditional diary or wall calendar. Try to find one which:

  • you can find easily
  • you enjoy using
  • lets you see days, weeks, months and years ahead, as this makes it easier to visualise your plans as a whole

and stick to it. Using different diaries or different systems will make it much harder to be in control. Write down all the appointments you know about. Set aside a couple of hours to work out for the next year, then month, then week, then day

  • what you have to do
  • what you would like to do

and then write it all down. Once you have made your first plans, set aside some time at the end of every year, month, week and day to plan for the next year, month, week and day.

In each planning session:

  • Check what appointments, reminders, notes, etc are already there.
  • Fill in any new dates or appointments as far ahead as you know them.
  • Think about what else you need to do during that time period; work out when would be the best time to do it; put a reminder in your planner.
  • Think about what you would like to do or achieve during that time period; work out what you need to do to achieve this, and when would be the best time to do that; put a reminder in your planner.

Remember:

  • Be realistic in your expectations.
  • Unexpected things can upset plans, so don’t be too rigid.
  • Always check that you have enough time for rest and relaxation.
  • If your day or week looks very busy, see if there is anything you can cancel or postpone.
  • If not, make sure that you will have time to catch up the next day or week.

If your days or weeks follow a regular pattern, you can set up a daily or weekly routine; knowing what you are supposed to be doing at any given time can make you more efficient. See some suggestions for a style and beauty routine here. But, again, be realistic and flexible. 

If you are planning for exams and revision, see our tips here.

Avoid time-wasting
A certain amount of time-wasting is a vital part of growing up, and in fact life. Everyone needs time to do nothing in particular, to rest and to let their thoughts collect and settle. But too much time-wasting will make you feel depressed.

  • Work out when you are most productive and aim to do most of your work and studying then. Some people work better in the mornings, some in the evenings.
  • Mix up your activities. You can do something useful like ironing or cooking at times when you’re tired of ‘brain’ work. Or do some undemanding reading or writing when you’re tired after physical activity.
  • If you set up a daily or weekly routine (see above), you can just get on and do what you need or want to do every day or week, without wasting time working it out from scratch every time.
  • You already know this, but try to put aside your phone or tablet when you are supposed to be working or concentrating on something else. It is too easy to convince yourself that you are busy and productive while you are staring at a screen. If you’re staring at a blank piece of paper or through a window at least you know you’re not achieving anything.

Most people waste most time when they are putting off doing something they don’t really want to do (procrastination). This becomes even worse when they start worrying about that thing. It is almost always better to get on and actually do that thing rather than worrying about doing it. Most things are not as bad as you think they are going to be. (And if you do struggle with any task, there is generally someone who can help – see the different sections of this website for suggestions about help with all the various aspects of your life.)

Also read our pages on:

Looking after your mind
Look after your mind
Being organised
Manage your possessions
road-sign-798177_640
Managing your schoolwork
arm-1284248_640
Managing your future plans
park-1566791_640
Switching off