Time Management for Teenagers

a query asks: I am 17 and have just joined a job, but now my college timings and my job timings are clashing, and I am not getting time to study or be with my friends. Should I leave the job?

Hi a query –

What you’re dealing with is maybe the toughest issue for a 17-year-old: Time Management.  Your brain is still forming its sense of time (it’s the last part to develop in a growing human), which is why, normally, humans arrange for people of your age to live in strictly-enforced schedules (whether that’s at a school, the military, or entry-level job).  Because you’re being so hard-working and responsible, though, you’re having to struggle in this.  And that’s really tough.

The only answer I can give you is to spend some time (which, I know, you have none of!) writing down a really exact list of the time demands you have.  How much time do your classes take?  How much time does your homework take (and that includes the breaks you require).  How much time does your practical life take (sleeping, eating, washing, driving, laundry, exercise, everything you feel you need)?  And when you have all that down, add them up.

Whatever’s left is the room you have for social life.

(With one exception.  If those numbers add up to 408 hours a week or more, you are overscheduled already.  That’s all the time there is!  So you definitely have to cut something.)

But if they don’t, if they add up to, say, 400 hours, then you have to make a decision.  Is 8 hours of social life enough?  If so, then you’re fine keeping that job.  If not, maybe you need to cut some of your work hours, or drop a class, or even lose the job altogether if you can afford it.

Now, here’s a very likely issue.  You’ll add up and get a number, let’s say 380 hours.  And you’ll say “That’s great, I can totally keep everything I’m doing.”  Hmmmm…. Probably not.  Probably you’re actually miscounting some of your hours.  So I’d recommend spending a week writing down all the time you spend on anything.  Yes, I mean “Three minutes dental floss” or “Sixteen minutes helping Kevin with his homework.”  Everything!  And when that week’s done, adding those numbers again, and seeing what you have to do.

It may well end up that you don’t have to quit your job or give up your social life, but instead just cut out your habit of spending an hour every afternoon watching reality shows, or cut down your video game playing from two hours to a half-hour per day.  And if so, you might find this actually improves your life overall.

But if not, if you’re really just overstretched, then yes, something has to go.  And it’s not my place to tell you what that will be.  Rather, you’ll have to make a decision based on your overall priorities.  Which, again, isn’t something most 17-year-olds like to do.

But this is the age when you’re really on the edge of adulthood.  And making decisions like that is a huge part of being an adult.  So, while I know it’s no fun at all… you might as well get used to it!

And actually, you can enjoy the fact that, for the first time in your life, these decisions are yours!

Good Luck!



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