School is back in full swing. Whether your child is back to in-person learning or still doing virtual, I’m sure they’re already feeling the pressure of the workload. None more so than teenagers who are also dealing with the added pressure of applying to colleges and pampering their transcripts. If your teen is feeling overwhelmed, this post is for you. Today, I’m talking about organizational skills you can teach your teen.
Teenagers want to be independent. They want to do things on their own, but sometimes they need a little assistance. One of the best things to teach them is how to organize and prioritize the important things in their lives. This can pertain to school assignments, tests, projects, work schedules, and more.
When your teen can properly organize and prioritize their day, they’ll feel more independent and prepared. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?
One of the first things you need to do is have a conversation with your teen. These types of serious talks can make a teen go on the defensive, so make sure you keep it light. Ask them how their organizational skills are. Is there anything they want to improve on? Share some positive lessons you’ve gained through organizing and prioritizing.
Remember that what works for you may not work for your teen. We all plan and organize differently so you need to learn what works best for them. Are they more visual or analytical? Are they a to-do lister or a project-based checklister? Once you know their strengths and weaknesses you can give better suggestions.
Multitasking is a one-way ticket to overwhelm. Despite what you’ve heard or been told, multitasking doesn’t work. It actually works against productivity. Instead of teaching your teen to multitask, teach them to divide and conquer. This includes breaking large projects or assignments up into smaller, more manageable tasks.
You can also teach them reverse engineering, which helps them learn time management. When your teen understands the importance of focusing on one thing at a time rather than on four things at once, they’ll produce better work.
In the height of the pandemic and virtual learning, parents realized the importance of having a dedicated workspace for them and a study space for their kids. An area with no distractions. Now that schools are back in person, you should still have your teen create a personal study zone.
This can be in their bedroom or in another room entirely. Encourage your teen to create it themselves. Show them some organizing tips like grouping similar items together. If you’re short on space buy a rolling cart and make it their portable study zone. This way they can move it anywhere they want to study.
Make sure the space promotes focus. Allow no phones or other distracting gadgets unless needed for the assignment they’re working on.
I mentioned independence earlier in this post. This is perhaps the one thing teens want more than anything. Giving them their own planner is a major step to implementing these organizational skills.
By allowing your teen to have their own planner, you’re putting responsibility in their hands. This is their space to keep track of everything. But remember, what works for you and your planner may not work for them.
Encourage your teen to try different tactics. A to-do list one day, an hour-by-hour breakdown the next. By letting them try different options, they’ll find what works best for them in no time. Once they do, have them do a little research. Read articles, watch YouTube videos, or visit Instagram profiles of people who do a similar planning method. The more inspiration your teen gets, the better they’ll use their planner.
For the visual teen, teach them the power of color-coding. They can color-code their notebooks, folders, and even the tasks in their planner. Have them create a master list of colors and their codes so they don’t forget. For example:
Put this information on a sticky note at the front or back of their planner. This way they have an easy way to reference it.
If your teen isn’t a visual person, try and have them use different symbols for assignment importance. Such as a star for projects due soon, an exclamation point for an upcoming test, and more. Signifying important dates and tasks will help them prioritize what they need to study for or work on when at home.
Teens nowadays grew up with technology. They’ve probably had a cell phone or tablet in their hands since before they could walk. This means they know all the ins and outs of what technology offers. Use this to your advantage. One of the best organizational skills for teens is right there in their hands.
Teach them to utilize apps to remind them of important dates or tasks. Most phones come with a pre-loaded Reminders app and a calendar that you can use to schedule appointments and remind you of them. And since they sync with any device, your teen will have constant access to their calendar. You can also download task apps like Productive, Todoist, Any.do, or Google Tasks.
Organizational skills include more than just organizing and prioritizing. It also requires time management. You can’t hope for your teen to be successful if they don’t know basic time management. The Pomodoro Technique is a powerful time management tool to learn.
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Your teen is to work on one specific task or assignment for that 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, they get a 5-minute break. Then they do another 25 minute round. They can either continue the same task or assignment or move on to a different one.
Once they complete four 25 minute sessions they get a longer break or they can call it a day. This technique teaches them to focus on one thing at a time. It also teaches them to avoid distractions — like a chiming of a phone. It’ll take a little discipline but encouragement goes a long way when learning this method.
Consistency is one of those organizational skills we don’t teach enough. When I say consistency, I mean consistency with planning. Your teen can’t hope to plan one day and be done with it. They need to consistently re-evaluate their plan.
Encourage a weekly planning session. Sunday nights work best. Make it a family affair. For thirty minutes to an hour every Sunday night, each member of the family sits down and plans their week. This can include updating project due dates, migrating any tasks not completed the week before, and crossing off anything that is no longer relevant.
These organizational skills are more than just giving teens the necessary tools to succeed. It’s giving them the necessary tools to carry with them throughout their life. Imagine them taking these skills with them into college, the workplace, and beyond.
When you feel confident in your ability to organize and prioritize your day, you’re going to get through things a little easier. That’s why it’s important to teach these skills to your teens now. Once they see how beneficial these skills are, they’ll be willing to learn more and adjust them to better suit their lifestyle.
Is your teen a naturally organized person? What above-mentioned skill could they benefit from? Were you an organized teen or did you learn organizing skills later in life?
Photo by: Matt Ragland
September 3, 2021