When you hear the words “organizing,” “productivity,” or “time management” you tend to think about yourself, a spouse or colleague, or a work scenario.
But it is just as important to teach children to manage their schedules and priorities. From parents to aunts, uncles, and teachers, there is so much we can do to help put young people on track for a great future by showing them simple skills.
A lot of effective time management comes down to developing the right habits and sticking to them. Teaching children about organization and productivity can be even more important than instilling those same ideas into managers and executives. That’s because, even though young people might not have board meetings to manage, the habits they set in their school careers can last a lifetime. Those behaviors are easiest to set when we are still young.
Here are a handful of tips for helping your children develop productive habits:
• Set a good example. If your children see that you are calm, relaxed, and always working steadily toward your short- and long-term goals, they will be likely to imitate those behaviors in their own lives. On the other hand, if you feel constantly rushed and disorganized, and are always having trouble keeping up with your commitments, they stand a high chance of following that example, as well.
• Teach children about prioritizing. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to time management and productivity is setting (and sticking with) different priorities. Naturally, you’ll probably have to help children set the right priorities — schoolwork has to come before video games, and so on — but the more you can help them understand the importance of doing necessary things first, the easier time they’ll have developing the discipline needed to keep strong productivity habits later.
• Let your children have a say in their goals. Although you’ll want to help children set their priorities, you don’t necessarily want to give them their own goals. Instead, start with things that are negotiable (school, maybe chores), but then ask what kinds of activities they feel are worth their time. Just like adults, children have an easier time being productive if they like what they’re doing. So, if certain sports, clubs, and other activities are sapping their energy and enthusiasm, it might be time to make a change.
• Show them how to take advantage of lists and other tools. You probably don’t need to give your children complicated apps and other productivity tools, but showing them the value of simple things like lists and schedules is a good idea. Not only will it help them keep better track of obligations like homework, but also make it easier for them to adopt more complex productivity systems later.
• Make your children accountable. Finally, you want to ensure that the lessons you teach your children about time management and productivity aren’t simply a one-time lecture. Once you have agreed on different schedules, tasks, and priorities together, make them accountable for following through. Allowances for spending money, television and video game time, and other rewards can be a good way to reinforce the concept of accountability. The more children understand the relationship between organization, doing what’s necessary, and earning rewards in life, the easier time they’ll have as students and eventually working adults.
Giving your children productive habits does not have to be difficult. After all, they don’t have many bad habits to break, as we often do. Just follow these simple steps, keep up the good example, and watch them take what you’ve taught them and use it to succeed.
Valley resident Denise Landers is the author of “Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey.” She is a national speaker, trainer, consultant and coach providing conference sessions, corporate training, and individual assistance to improve daily work flow and time management skills. For more organizing resources, go to www.keyorganization.com .