Does your teen wish they had more time?
More time to prep for their exams.
More time to hang with friends.
More time for whatever they want in life.
Do you wish they had more time so they have a better life balance?
Or, so they could do the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program to become more efficient and effective in their study so they spend LESS time studying and get MORE marks along the way? ;)
(Or maybe just put away their laundry?!)
In this episode
YOU WILL DISCOVER:
5 ways to create more time.
How faster can also mean higher quality and more marks.
Why 'having too much to do' is NOT the cause of stress - and what IS.
The skills and actions that will have your teen feeling calm and in control of their study.
You’re listening to the Parents of Hardworking Teens Podcast, episode 42 - how to create more time, so your teen can get a better life balance, be more organised, more in control, have more time for the things they want and be more intentional in how they are spending their time. And enjoy their free time without guilt that they should be studying. Plus, I’ll let you into a personal secret of an ongoing time battle I have in my own head almost every day - just in case it might be happening for you or your teen too.
Hello my Very Important Parents! I am so happy to be recording this podcast for you today because number one, I love all things planning and efficiency, and number two it is the perfect introduction and lead in for my upcoming webinar, - Get your Busy Teen Organised and Efficient in Their Study. It’s a live webinar on Thursday 30th March at 7pm AEST, so that’s 8pm for all of you on eastern daylight savings, 5pm in WA, 10pm New Zealand.
If you haven’t yet registered, you can go right now if you’re listening to this before or even on the 30th March, to www.gradetransformation.com/organised. I’m making this webinar for parents and students, so have your teen watch with you or instead of you if they’re up for it, or if you can bribe them to. Usually my webinars are aimed at parents, all my trainings and coaching are for students, but I like to share a lot of the concepts and strategies behind it with parents, so this will be a little bit different and I’m super-excited about it.
Now, there are lots of reasons I decided to create the webinar - and in particular this episode - which is more focused on how to create more time. Firstly, it’s because I see so many students being busy, telling me how busy they are, feeling stressed because of how busy they are. And I get it. I often feel the same myself, and I’ll tell you more about that in a moment.
Another reason is because one of the most common issues parents tell me about when they want to enrol their teen in the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program, is that their teen feels like they don’t have time to do it. They’re already busy with homework, a part time job, hobbies or clubs, extra-curricular, community or family commitments. They’re overwhelmed and stressed already and they just can’t face having another thing on the to-do list. So it’s a Catch-22 situation: you don’t have the time to learn the skills, strategies and techniques that will have you completing tasks more easily, faster and to a higher standard, which will therefore give you more time. Time you NEED to be able to get those skills. And without them, you’ll keep working in ways that mean you don’t have enough time. Something has to happen in order to break that never-ending cycle. I’ll share some ways to make that happen in this episode.
Now, secondly, another reason I really want to share this is that many of the ways to become more efficient and productive, also have students up-leveling the actual quality of their work, have them achieving higher grades and results at the same time. Because when they are more strategic in their decisions and more skilled in the way they study, speed no longer comes at the expense of quality. They speed up AND their marks go up.
The third reason I want to share this is to hopefully help with any stress and overwhelm that your teen may be feeling around having too much to do, or not enough time. Because I want to offer that stress and overwhelm is not caused by the number of things on the list. It’s caused by your teen not knowing how they’ll get it all done. Not having a clear plan or a proven strategy to get it all done in the time available. We can have a lot of things to do, but if we know exactly what we’re doing and we know how to do them within a given time frame, that isn’t stressful. It’s not the things and it’s not the time. It’s not knowing HOW - and you know I love the how.
So that’s what we’re going to get into today. HOW to be more efficient, feel more in control of time and actually create more time.
Now, here’s that secret I promised you. And this is another reason I’m really keen to talk about this with you today. My most recurring, unintentional mantra that runs through my head most often when I have a lot on, (which is most of the time) - is ‘I don’t have time for this.’
As soon as something goes wrong or doesn’t go to plan, or I have something added to my list I wasn’t expecting, my immediate thought is almost always ‘I don’t have time for this’ - for this to not be working, to have to figure out another way, to have to google how to fix something, to have to do it all again.
And so ironically - and some might say perfectly fitting - this literally happened to me as I was sitting down to plan out this episode.
We’ve been moving a lot of the business set up and work systems over to Google Workspace and basically, I couldn’t find my podcast planning file in either the old folder OR the new drive. I kept searching and looking through everything, went through the trash folder and the bin. Went back through everything over and over. Typing in file searches, even typing in names I knew the file wasn’t called, looking in folders I knew it would never be - you know, all the things we do when we start to get desperate. And with every search, with every scroll, louder and louder in my brain was going ‘I don’t have time for this, I don’t have time for this.’ Because, of course, I had a string of other tasks all scheduled in afterwards.
And after ranting and stressing to myself, I shared this status update of ‘can’t find this really important file’ in a totally not calm way with my husband, and as he went through the google support or help or whatever, of course we found the file and I got quietly and sheepishly back to planning the podcast. And so I just want to tell you that I get it. And I’m here sharing these things with you not as an expert in calmness and having time totally managed - because remember, we can't manage actual time - we can only manage ourselves and our tasks - annoying, I know. I’m sharing this more as an expert in often feeling like I don’t have enough time and sharing with you the strategies that have helped me and that I train students in that have helped them.
So that if you use them with your teen, they have more time for other things in life aside from study, so they can do the 10WGT if they want to but haven’t had the time before now, so they can feel calm and in control of their study. Not that everything will go perfectly and smoothly all of the time, but even if they worked at a 50% level, if they even HALF worked- what would that mean for your teen’s amount of free time, for their life balance, for their confidence, their mental health and stress levels?
Okay, the first and in my opinion, the most important strategy is to PLAN.
Plan your time and tasks, and plan the exact steps that need to go into completing that task. Now, planning what you will do and actually produce in a given amount of time is what I call ‘Scheduling Outcomes’. I talked about this in detail in episode 5 of the podcast so I’ll link that up in the show notes, and it’s what I train students to do in Catapult 2 of the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program with the Throw Out the To-Do List system.
What I see so many students doing, and what I used to do years ago was make a big, long to-do list which does go some way to helping as it gets everything out of our head and onto paper, but then what tends to set in, is the stress and overwhelm of now having paper evidence of everything there is to do. We just transferred the stress from brain onto paper. And this is the same if your teen puts it onto a wall planner, into a diary, whatever.
There is another step needed after this. The key is to break down those items into steps that will actually get each thing complete and then schedule when they’ll get done and give each one a time frame. This is why it is so important for your teen to know HOW to study, HOW to tackle tasks, HOW to dissect a question or essay title. If they just have ‘write English essay’ on a to-do list or deadline planner, it doesn’t mean they know HOW to do it or how long they’ll spend on it. So, they need to know not just what they have to do overall, but also exactly what steps are involved, how to do them and then exactly when they’ll do them, in what time frame.
And as all of my Next Level students will tell you, if you feel like you don’t have time to make a plan, that is the exact time you MUST make a plan. Like when students have to write an essay under timed exam conditions and they feel like they just need to start writing their answer, that they don’t have TIME to write a plan. But, even though it goes against our natural instincts, a plan will make everything else faster, smoother and very likely, better quality too. It’s the same for homework, assignments and any other study.
If we plan out everything in absolute detail, so there is no room for confusion or tangents, it might take 15 mins of planning and 45mins to get it done. If we just try to work on something and figure it out as we go, it could easily end up taking us two hours to get it done. I know from talking with so many of you, you see this happening for your teens all the time. They end up taking twice as long on something as it could or should take, just because they aren’t working as effectively or efficiently as they could be.
Now, what if they get stuck? What if there’s something they DON’T know how to do?
This is the beauty of making the plan. They will see this within those first 15 mins. Not when they are hours into it and then potentially going to have to back-track or realise their investigation isn’t quite on focus or what have you. They can address any issues from the start. And do that strategically too.
In fact, in the webinar I’m running - Thursday 30th March - I have a special attendee gift for everyone who attends live. It’s my ‘6 Steps to Getting Un-Stuck’ flow chart resource. It literally says - have you got this, do you know this, can you find that? If so - go to the next step, if not, here’s how to get it or find out. Here’s the exact question to ask your teacher. So definitely come to the webinar to get your free copy of that: My 6 Steps to Getting Un-Stuck.
Now, the next thing is, let’s say they have the plan, they have all their outcomes scheduled. Here’s what will happen next. There will be some things they just don’t feel like doing. It’s 7pm on a Wednesday and they are supposed to be writing the 3 body paragraphs for their essay. And even though they know how to do it, (I’m presuming here that they know the HOW for these things - if they don’t, then get them into the 10WGT where I give them HOW to analyse, how to write summary notes, how to revise effectively, how to identify command words, how to actually evaluate, all the HOW’s) but even if they know HOW to do it, they maybe won’t feel like doing it.
Some of you have teen’s who are great at this. They can get themselves motivated, they have a strong work ethic. And for some of you, this may not be your teen’s strong suit. Now, I’m not a motivational speaker, I’m not a teen mindset coach, but here’s what I do tell students, often when I’m in class with them when I’m doing relief teaching rather than coaching, I tell them: Training yourself to be able to do things you don’t really want to do - when they are things that will produce a positive outcome, I’m not talking about succumbing to peer pressure here or anything like that - is one of the greatest skills in life. If you can build that skill then you’re setting yourself up for success.
One way to help with this is to make sure that within their planning, they do plan in some breaks. A brain break after 45 mins or an hour. Some dedicated time to scroll on their phone. Some down-time before bed. Don’t just have back-to-back study, because then there is no reward or respite when they do get the task done. And then it also means that because it is part of the plan - they can actually enjoy that time guilt-free.
The other thing that will likely happen is that they’ll get distracted. By notifications on their laptop, by picking up their phone, by checking emails (always the sneaky one that we tell ourselves is productive but is just taking us away from what we’re supposed to be doing), by doing anything else that isn’t the task they should be doing. It might even be unloading the dishwasher - if you’re lucky - just joking - or even starting on a different task. So, they HAVE to remove distractions. No excuses. Phone out of sight and out of reach. If they say they need it for something, get those files or info or whatever it is onto their device and then get rid of and turn off everything else. Put the ‘do not disturb’ setting on the laptop. Whatever it takes.
I promise that having a planned amount of time to spend on a specific outcome will be a big help here. If we are just working on that essay, with no end time in sight and no point at which we know we’ll get a break, that is when distraction is even more enticing. If we know, it’s just 45 mins for 3 paragraphs or whatever it is, then we have a specific end point to work to and can stay more focused in that time because it’s also a bit of a race against time. Especially if, after the 45mins, that is their time to watch Youtube for a bit, and they won’t want to go over into that.
Now, I just mentioned there about starting work on a different task. Something that, in the moment, feels like it will be more fun. Something they’re more in the mood for.
This is task switching. Or it might be a case of multi-tasking - which is also just task-switching but in micro-bursts of attention. There has been so much research done on how much time we lose by doing this, in terms of how much it takes for our brain to go from one thing and start getting in the zone of another. It’s sneaky but it’s crazy. So much so that I actually do a full example of this in the 10WGT. Over the course of a week, it easily adds up to hours. Multiply that over a term and it’s a ridiculous amount of time wasted - time that could have been spent on fun or relaxation, or having more time to spend on the essay instead of rushing it. Or of course, on that one hour a week for the 10WGT and getting all the skills that’ll make everything faster and easier too. Just saying.
So, schedule outcomes, break down and plan every task, remove distractions, don’t task-switch - and two more that I want to share, that are a little less obvious. Make strong decisions and be willing to say ‘no’. Your teen - if they are anything like me and think they can do it all, and can sometimes be a bit of a people-pleaser - is likely saying yes to a lot. To doing that extra shift at work when their boss asks, to playing for the team in that extra match, to going to that social event that they aren’t even looking forward to, or even… saying no to doing the fancy front cover for the Science report- the things that aren’t actually going to make any difference to their result, even though they usually like to do them. When things are busy, they need to know what is going to give them most bang for buck.
And they also need to know that none of this is forever. Saying ‘no’ might just be for a couple of weeks.
And then finally, I want to mention - making strong decisions. This means making an informed and strategic decision and sticking to it. Whether that is a decision on when they’re going to study, or what topic they’re choosing for their History inquiry. Make a decision based on sound reasoning and strategy and then stick to it.
We can’t make a strong decision if we’re uncertain about it in the first place. So again, knowing what is required and how to do it is important in this process. We waste time and brain energy negotiating with ourselves or being indecisive or even changing our minds after we’ve decided on something. If there’s no good reason to change anything (and not feeling like it is not a good reason), just stick to the plan. This could be in changing their mind about what they’re going to work on. Or, students start a project or an assignment or a story and then part way through, decide they would be better off doing it on a different topic. So they either have to edit what they have or scrap it and start again. Much better is to have the ability and skills to make informed and strategic decisions on what topic will best allow them to achieve the success criteria in the fastest, smoothest way, to their highest possible standard. Do that from the outset.
Which brings us full circle, back to the planning. Strategically planning tasks. If we don’t take the time to do that, there is a bigger chance that there’ll be a re-start, a lengthy tangent or some other time-consuming detour along the way. And of course, all of these things put together can have a huge impact. Definitely check out episode 24 - The Skill Web for more on that.
But here are the 5 skills we’ve talked about today: Planning so that tasks are clear and time-scheduled, sticking to that schedule even if they don’t feel like it in the moment, removing all distractions, not multi-tasking or task switching, making strong and strategic decisions about a task in advance, and saying no to some things, just for a period of time, all together mean your teen can create hours of time in their life.
And that’s not the only thing they’ll create. They’ll create a feeling of calmness, of being more in control, and they’ll create discipline and focus PLUS a greater awareness of themselves and their study.
If you’d like some specific, proven strategies on doing exactly that in their actual study- the practical HOW and real life examples and actions and actions and how all this can be done whilst also increasing their results, raising the quality and sophistication of their work, making things faster and more efficient without sacrificing grades (in fact it dos the opposite)- then make sure you or your teen or ideally both of you together come live to the webinar - Get Your Busy Teen Organised and Efficient.
You can get my special attendee gift: 6 Steps to Getting Un-stuck as well as the proven strategies and bonus advanced tactics I’ll also be sharing. It’s going to be super-practical and jam-packed. If you haven’t already registered, go now to www.gradetransformation.com/organised to save your seat for free. You only need to register once for you and your teen, if you’re on the same device watching together.
So that whatever it is that your teen would like more time for, they can create it AND achieve even bigger and better results too along the way. I really hope to see you at the webinar on Thursday and I’ll see you back here next week on the podcast, have a fantastic week and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye!