How to Help Your High School Student Manage Their Time

Following months of remote or hybrid learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, high school students across the country are finally returning to the classroom.

This unprecedented last year has been hard on everyone—with teenagers, in particular, struggling with mental health challenges. On top of the worry and grief we’ve all felt, high school students have had to adapt to entirely new ways of learning during what’s already a very stressful time in their lives.

Teenagers have demonstrated remarkable resilience through the many pandemic-related challenges they’ve had to face. But change is never easy, and as they transition back to in-person learning, they may find themselves struggling to manage their time.

Time Management for High School Students

All of us only have a finite number of hours each day. When you’re in school, fitting the right activities into the right time slots can feel like a game of Tetris. If you play the game well, you have time for everything, with room to spare. If you don’t manage time well, those demands keep piling up . . . and it’s game over.

Playing the time management game doesn’t have to be hard. These tips can help your high school student stay focused, reduce stress, and be more efficient as they make their way back to the classroom:

1 . Keep a written record of their schedule and assignments.

Between school hours, team practices, homework, a part-time job, long-term projects, and fulfilling social life, high school students have a lot to keep track of! Without a dedicated system for organizing their schedule, it’s nearly impossible to remember everything.

Whether your student uses a paper or digital system, make sure it’s comprehensive enough to include a calendar feature and a task feature. Each morning, they should review their calendar and prioritize their tasks so they know what needs to happen.

2. Set realistic long-term and short-term goals.

Goal-setting is an excellent way for your high school student to focus their energy toward a tangible outcome. The key, of course, is for their goals to be reasonably attainable so that they’re poised for success from the get-go.

We recommend setting separate short-term goals (1 day to 2 weeks) and long-term goals (2 weeks to 1 semester). Having short-term goals is important because it inspires a feeling of accomplishment, which in turn helps keep students motivated to complete their long-term goals.

3. Take frequent breaks.

With all that hard work your high school student is putting in, they need (and deserve!) time to relax and turn their brains off. Taking breaks, even as short as five minutes, is a critical part of an effective time management plan.

It may seem counterintuitive, but people can actually get more done in less time when they allow themselves frequent breaks. Encourage your high school student to schedule a break at least once an hour to refresh their mind and sharpen their focus.

Along these same lines, it’s also important for your teenager to get a good night’s sleep. They can even put their bedtime right on their calendar so they get a reminder not to stay up too late.

4. Avoid over-committing.

High school students often feel pressured to bite off more than they can chew—especially when they know college applications are on the horizon. But good time management involves identifying when you’re at capacity and having the courage to say “no” to another extracurricular activity, another late shift at work, or another gathering with friends.

As your high school student eases back into the classroom, empower them to set boundaries for their own time management and mental health.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If your high school student needs additional guidance managing their time after returning to the classroom, know that help is available. Signet offers academic coaching services to help students overcome challenges in their academic and personal lives.

These sessions give students the tools they need to reduce stress and strengthen the key pillars that lead to academic success.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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