Teens aren’t exactly known for their time management and organizational skills. They are often forgetting things, losing things, missing things, not hearing things. In addition to that, their spaces are often messy, disorganized and often stinky. Teens may claim they know where everything is, and maybe they do; but it’s not ideal for them to adapt to living in chaos and disorganization.
That’s not to say teens have to be on time ALL the time, or so organized Marie Kondo would be jealous. I tell parents to encourage their teens to aim for a 70/30 split. 70 percent of the time they are on time and organized and 30 percent of the time they don’t know what planet they’re on. Sometimes this slips to 60/40 and sometimes it creeps up to 80/20; either way it’s best to aim for a 70/30 split.
Adults know perfection is unattainable, we’ve had plenty of years of experience to realize this. Okay, maybe not all adults have realized this, but that doesn’t make it less than a fact of life. Perfection is an illusion; it’s best to let teens know that now before they spend a lot of time and energy thinking they can become a perfect person.
Here’s 3 quick ways to help your teen manage their time better and be more organized:
Get used to repeating yourself
Accept it. You’re going to repeat yourself a lot. I know it’s annoying always having to give reminders, checking in and making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing and following up with others to make sure they followed through!
Trust me, your teen isn’t forgetting to purposefully piss you off; even though it feels that way. They also aren’t forgetting or lagging because they want to anger you to the point you are yelling at them. I’ve never met a teen who enjoys having their parents yell at them. Your teen is experiencing the adolescent stage of development. Which means they are literally losing half, HALF of their brain! Their left brain is busy rewiring its entire neural network and the prefrontal cortex (in charge of time management and organization) is going through a MAJOR update. They are operating with half a brain. Make sense?
Because of this brain developmental stage, teens are going to forget things and not always remember to be aware of time. Sorry to say, but by forgetting and being late everywhere, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They are ‘normal’.
So, get good with reminding them. The reminders you give actually help their brain develop in a healthy way. I will warn you, they are going to need LOTS of reminders; some more than others, so relax, chill out and try to speak in a calm voice as you repeat yourself 7,892 times a day.
Try different tools
Pull out your smartphone and sit down with your teen and google some different organizational tools together. Maybe an online calendar is not helpful to them and they would do better with a paper calendar. It’s better for their developing brain to write things down by hand anyway. And they can personalize it with doodles and stickers. To be able to look at an entire week or month at one time is helpful for them.
Set alarms. Lot’s of alarms. Egg timers are great…smartphones are convenient but distracting. It’s too easy to get lost in Snapchat or Instagram if they are setting timers on their smartphone, that is if you have let them have a smartphone. Which they will remind you of several times a day.
Instead of relying solely on verbal reminders, get a bulletin board and/or post it notes and leave them little notes around the house. A central location for a community board is helpful, as long as they remember to check it!
Use some stories you hear from other frustrated parents to ‘role play’ or problem solve scenarios that are not personal to you or your teen. When both of you are not emotionally activated about a situation it’s much easier to have a conversation about it. Go through the situation and discuss how it could have been handled better. Ask your teen what they would have done differently or where they think the person failed in the situation.
Teens are great at problem solving, when it’s not personal and when they are in the mood to do so. Capitalize on the moments they are in the mood and try and allow them to do most of the talking! Ask them things like ‘What would you have done?’ ‘Where did they make a wrong move in this siuation?’ ‘How do you think that person felt about them being so late?’.
Try to avoid using shame and embarrassment when teaching and modeling great time management and organizational skills. If you would like more detailed information, ready made scenarios, tools and activities, and additional practical help in teaching time management and organization to your teen download the best resource to help you do that: