Time Management Tips and Tricks

5th Grade Boys’ Lunch Update: Time Management Tips and Tricks
-Will Piper, Dean of Students Grades 5-6

Based on feedback from parent-teacher conferences, I decided to focus this quarter’s boys’ lunch for fifth grade boys on “tips and tricks” re: time management.

Listening to the boys, it is clear that students here at USM live very busy lives.  Most of the boys cited being involved with multiple extracurricular activities, both in and out of school.  Many have music lessons, sports, outside activities, and religious classes on top of their school work.  My charge to the boys was to focus on ways to do your homework more efficiently.  I also challenged students to think about how they learn and work best.  Not everyone works or thinks the same way.  From our conversations, I solicited tips from the boys, and added some research-based ones of my own (many thanks to Paul Salerno).  While not all of these tips and tricks will work for every student, I hope that students and parents will find them beneficial in terms of helping empower students to be better time managers when doing their work.

“Time Management Tips For Fifth Graders:”

  • Do your homework as soon as possible after school:  Research shows that your brain is “fresher” at this time and that you are still in “school mode.”  This also allows you to get work out of the way and then have more time for other things.
  • If at all possible, do homework before late extracurricular activities: If you wait until you get back from a late activity to start your work, you will most likely be tired and groggy when doing it.  This might cause it to take longer, be more difficult, and also, at times not get done.  If at all possible, do work before late sports, music or other practices.
  • Avoid video games until work is done:  Video games have their place and purpose.  Many of them provide wonderful creative outlets and the ability for students to use problem-solving skills.  However, when students are engrossed in a “game world” it is harder for them to focus on the “real world,” especially homework, immediately following a session of gaming.  I strongly advise students NOT to play video games until after all of their work is completed.  This is the same reason why we ask students not to play games without teacher permission and supervision from 8:15-3:15 during the school day.  Several students shared personal stories of having a difficult time going from playing a game to doing homework, and homework taking longer after a session of gaming because they had a hard time not thinking about the game and “getting to the next level.”  (Note: I, too, had the same problem at age 10 when I was playing the original Legend of Zelda for the 8-bit Nintendo).
  • Tackle what’s hardest first: Start off your homework session doing what’s most difficult for you, as it will take the most mental energy.  Then go on to what’s second hardest, third hardest, etc.  Save your strongest, easiest subject for last as it will require least amount of mental energy.
  • If you have a tendency to dawdle or daydream, set an alarm: Most daily homework assignments in fifth grade are designed to be completed in 20 minutes or less.  If you are a student who has a tendency to daydream or let your mind wander, try setting an alarm for twenty minutes.  This often times can help focus you if you are a daydreamer.   If you are spending more than 20 minutes a night on a given subject, I suggest that you talk to your teacher and find out if she or he can help you be more efficient with the work. (Note:  if you are a student who gets nervous when you are “timed,” don’t use this tip as this will be less beneficial as you’ll worry too much about the timer going off).
  • Start studying for a test in advance: Do not put off test preparation until the night before.  Most of your teachers will give you multiple days notice when you are having a unit test.  Start preparing a little bit each night, and focus on the study guide as a learning tool if one is provided.
  • Reward yourself when you are finished.  Perhaps a food  treat, a chance to play a game, or better yet, some quality time with the family pet might all be good ways to reward yourself when your work is done.
  • You need your rest:  Do not have screen time a half-hour or more before you go to bed.  This helps your brain relax and turn itself off.  Also, limit “adventure” books at this time, as even reading cause your brain to get overly stimulated and make it harder to sleep.

I hope that this list provides some useful strategies to assist students in working more efficiently and managing their time better.  As always, please feel free to contact your child’s advisor, Laina Uttech, Middle School Guidance Counselor, or myself if we can be of assistance.



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One thought on “Time Management Tips and Tricks

  1. Kathy Scherkenbach December 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm Reply

    This is awesome information!

    Good for you for posting it.

    Now, if we could only get the parents to dump some of the extracurricular.

    I’ve never over scheduled the kids and both they and I are often found smiling and communicating at the dinner table almost every night!


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