Students are busy. In addition to their academic obligations, active teens are often involved in extracurricular activities such as music,dance, team sports or, community service. These activities may demand two or more hours per day, every day. Considering that most high school students start their school day before 8 o’clock, that grueling schedule doesn’t leave much discretionary, or leisure time. For those applying to college, the additional burden of college exams and applications can become overwhelming. If students lack an appropriate organizational method, they endure a great deal of stress that can lead to depression and anxiety. Learning how to prioritize can be a step in the direction to alleviating some stress.
One method that I share with my students uses the acronym, STING. Practicing this method consistently in conjunction with a “time activation” strategy can be useful not only for students but for anyone who has too much to do with too little time. Make a “Things to Do” list. Use a calendar, planner, or task sheet to record the day’s objectives.You will feel very gratified as you cross out or check off each item.
Apply the directions below, which are general enough for most types of activities.
1. SELECT a task. Pick the most important, or difficult or time -consuming chore first. Get it out of the way.
2. TIME yourself. Estimate how long that task will take. If longer than 45 minutes, break it into segments.
3. IGNORE everything else. Turn off the electronic distractors–no e-mail, phone, computer, etc. Work during this work time.
4. NO breaks. During this work time, Finish what you started, but not for longer than 45 minutes.
5. GIVE yourself a reward!. Once you’ve finished that task, take about 5 minutes to enjoy a reward such as a cup of tea, a BRIEF call to a friend (if possible) before beginning the next task.
Continue this process until you’re satisfied that you’ve made some headway on your daily list.
(PS. I adhere to my own advice, as I applied this strategy to this blog entry.)