Time Management for Teens: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

It's stressful to feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Spending a lot of time on things that aren't important to you also leads to stress. Time management can help you feel more in control of how you spend your time. When you feel in control, you reduce your stress.

Time management helps you find the time for all the things you want and need to do. It helps you decide which things are urgent and which can wait. Learning how to manage your time, activities, and commitments can be hard. But it can make your life easier, less stressful, and more meaningful.

To make the most of your time and reduce stress:

  • Prioritize tasks and activities. This means you decide which tasks are most important to you.
  • Control procrastination. Procrastination is putting things off until the last minute or missing deadlines because you have waited too long to start or finish something.
  • Manage commitments. A commitment is a promise to do something. To manage them, you need to be able to say "no" to things that aren't important to you.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Prioritize

  • Make a list of all your school, home, and social tasks and activities for the day or week. Then rate these tasks by how important or urgent they are.
    • Unimportant tasks are ones that don't need to be done or that aren't important to you, your parents, or your school.
    • Important tasks are those that are meaningful or important to you, such as doing well in school, playing computer games with your friends, or practicing guitar. Important tasks are also tasks you must do for others, such as getting your homework or house chores done on time.
    • Urgent tasks are those that must be done right away to avoid a major problem. For example, if you have not studied for a big test, you must study now or you might fail the test. Many urgent things are important things that you put off doing. When things become urgent, they become stressful.
  • After you have your list and have rated the items, think about how you spend your time. Do you spend a lot of time on things that aren't important? Do your important tasks often become urgent? What can you do to change things? For example, if you study for 30 minutes every night for a few days before a test, you won't have to cram for the test the night before.

Control procrastination

When you wait until the last minute to do things, you are more likely to stress out. Try these tips:

  • Use your list. You've made a list of what's important to you. Now get a day planner or notebook to plan your day or week. Write down the important and urgent things you need to do. Write down when you'll do them and how much time you think they'll take. Just writing down what you have to do and seeing it can help you get things done.
  • Find out how long larger projects or tasks will take. List all the steps you'll need to take to finish the project and how long each step will take. See how much time you have every day for the project. Then count backward from the due date. This is when you'll need to start.
  • Break up large tasks. Some things take a long time, but you don't always have to do them at one time. For example, if your parents want you to wash and vacuum out the car, wash it one day and vacuum it the next. Or if your teacher gives you three chapters to read by the end of the week, read a chapter every day.
  • Know yourself and your habits. If you know a little about yourself, you can plan your time better. For example, if you can't focus until later in the morning, don't plan to study early in the morning. To get started, ask yourself questions like:
    • What time of day am I at my best? When do I focus well and feel alert?
    • How long does it take me to get ready for school?
    • How long can I focus on one thing?
    • What grabs my attention? If I study with a radio on, will I be able to do a good job?

Manage your commitments

You may have a lot going on: school, sports practice, a job, family, and friends. But too many commitments can result in stress.

  • Let go of some commitments. This doesn't mean giving up. It means that you are learning what's important to you and that you can't do everything.
    • Don't commit to things that are not important to you. If you're no longer interested in a certain activity, it might be time to let it go.
    • When you want or need to let go of something, imagine tying it to a helium balloon, releasing the balloon, and watching it float away.
    • Accept that your life is a "work in progress." You don't have to finish every project or meet every goal in your life by tomorrow or even next week. If one of your goals is less important, you can work on it later in your life.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your school or job performance is getting worse.
  • You feel very stressed or anxious.
  • You have a hard time getting through the day.
  • You are using alcohol or drugs to deal with your stress.
  • You want to talk about your stress or how to manage it.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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