Finding a balance between school, homework, a social life and family time can seem like an impossible task for many secondary school students. With never enough time in the day to get everything done, not to mention trying to maintain good grades, everything can feel overwhelming and disorganised. That’s why being able to successfully manage priorities is the key to having a balanced life and great grades. Here’s our top priority management strategies so students can thrive!
Define Priorities In Order
A great place to start is for students to list out all school work priorities as well as any other responsibilities they may have. Next, take the time to consider any deadlines for homework or other projects and add these in accordingly, highlighting them so they stand out. Once students can see a visual list of all of their priorities, they can start writing them out again in order of when they need to be completed by and considering how much time they may need for each task. For example, a 2000-word essay may need a few weeks to complete, so make a note of this. It’s also important to include general responsibilities too, such as a weekend job, as this will need to be factored in when making a monthly or weekly plan. Making this priority to-do list also creates a visual reminder or what needs completing first as well as acts as a physical obstacle that students can cross off once complete, which can increase motivation levels.
Break Down Large Tasks
When it comes to large homework tasks, it can often feel very overwhelming and daunting for secondary students. Instead break down large tasks, so they’re able to tackle them one step at a time. For example, if a student has a big presentation that requires about 6 hours of work, break this down into 6x 1 hour sessions or 3x 2 hour sessions, depending on how much time there is. Alternatively, students can identify specific steps for each stage of the task, such as researching their chosen topic, writing out the presentation and practicing presenting. Breaking the most daunting responsibilities down to smaller, more achievable goals makes any task doable.
Create A Weekly Or Monthly Plan
Once students have created an ordered list of priorities and broken down larger tasks, it’s a good idea to map out the next few weeks in the calendar. Mark in any daily or weekly responsibilities, whether this is being at school, a weekend job or an after-school sports club. Once this is done students can then start seeing their free time and adding in priority tasks according to their deadlines. Keeping this schedule handy or somewhere where they’ll see it every day is also a great visual reminder. It’s also important to be realistic when students are filling in their plans - it’s easy to get over ambitious and over plan each day, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. Instead stick with a few hours per day of priority school work, allowing for plenty of breaks and days off. Having this weekly or monthly plan will not only help make any project or task easily achievable, but starts building habits that will make managing priorities second nature in no time!
Plan For The Unexpected
Even though mapping out a schedule is an excellent way to manage priorities, it’s also important to plan for the unexpected too. We recommend always allowing for extra time when considering deadlines, just in case students need it or something out of their control happens. Planning for this and knowing extra time is there if needed is one of the benefits students will experience when they’ve taken the time to organise their priorities.
Have A Daily To Do List
If students don’t work well with having a busy calendar, a set daily schedule or feel overwhelmed easily, a great way for them to manage their priorities on an everyday basis is to have a daily to do list. Students can simply list the things they would like to achieve each day and highlight one or two tasks that must be completed. It’s a good idea for them to have this list with them at all times and remember if they only get the daily priority tasks done each day, they’ve still done a great job!
Get Rid Of Distractions
Often students find it difficult to make time to study or work on their priorities because of all the distractions they’re faced with each day. Whether it’s a TV, phone or laptop, removing them and working in a calm, quiet space will mean students are much more efficient and focused. It’s also important for students to remember the value of their time and that being productive in the session they have mapped out for studying is how they will be able to stay on top of their priorities. Often distractions can get in the way of this, meaning priorities aren’t getting the time they require to be completed on time or get the level of attention required to produce excellent work.