And So the Time Flew – A Time Management Story

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I have plenty of time! …said every teenager who ever lived, especially when dealing with less enjoyable tasks such as unappealing study topics. The constant practice of procrastination typically turns young adults into lazy, full-grown adults who no longer have the endless supply of time they once boasted.

Hour glass and calendar concept for time slipping away for important appointment date, schedule and deadline

And it’s not just this age-old character shortfall that sits at the root of the problem. The teenagers of today are surrounded by an ever-growing number of distraction sources:  smartphones, laptops, tablets, social media and so on; imagine how easy it is for younger minds to get absorbed in this sea of interesting things.

The fact is largely debated in online (and offline) articles, by so many voices, that it gradually starts to look like a rising ‘ignore education’ epidemic. Frustrated parents publicly scold their offsprings for their lack of interest and enthusiasm for academic knowledge. Vocal teachers feel compelled to join the conversation and frequently end-up presenting one-sided perspectives. As usual, everyone thinks they hold the moral ground and, as usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

New Age – Adaptation Required

Of course, it’s pretty easy to criticize. It’s even easier to tear something down, than bring alternative solutions to the table is. When opinions start flying, the conversation rarely circles back to the flaws that still affect our education system.

The insufficient number of educators, outdated study curricula or teaching methods/tools, the ‘workload’ a student has to cope with daily, the lack of early education related to ‘life-required’ skills such as communication methods, time management, money management etc., these are but a few of the examples.

The faster we recognize the blank spaces in our education model (and implicitly, ourselves) the higher our chance to actually start working on some much-needed upgrades. Chalky blackboards and paper attendance lists are a thing of the past; understanding and exploring the new reality is how we move ahead.

Time Management – the Lost Study Object

As our lives’ rhythm changed, time management became a really trendy topic. Parents in particular try to teach their kids the importance of being organized by assigning them chores with daily deadlines. They hope the youngsters will learn the importance of having an action plan and taking responsibility for the outcomes.

Practicing the time management fundamentals so early in life, would help them later, when the necessity of a life management system pops up. You might think that’s just an exaggeration feed by overbearing parents but, this time, they’ve got it right.

When properly done, time management helps everyone get their tasks done against all deadlines and without stressing over the consequences of delays.  Mission (successfully) accomplished.

Efficiency as a Life Principle

Time management is all about efficiency. Students today have to juggle lots of tasks and expectations – at times, the 24 hours day is simply insufficient. As a result, they have to constantly prioritize acquiring new information, against writing essays, against attending lectures on the importance of things that have little chance to ever be used in aconcrete life situations against completing ‘small fish’ chores that are important nonetheless and the list can go on.

And since we’re talking about (in)coherent systems, let’s add another pain point to the mixture:  placing a significant number of students in a study group limits the possibility of teachers providing personalized guidance/assistance to their students. When dealing with a whole group, a teacher will find it difficult to dedicate sufficient attention to individual needs – in most cases, they will resort to using generalist, inclusive approaches.

Therefore everyone gets the same information feed, through the same transmission method – despite the differences between receptors (think analytical minds vs. creative minds) – and are attributed to the same assignment. So, should we really be surprised or frustrated that students eventually decide to focus on something other than going to class?

Conclusion

A clear bottom line emerges: young people today are less and less willing to spend time on topics and formal contexts that don’t fit their interests. The length limitations of this article will not allow a detailed list of highly accomplished individuals that chose to quit school and focus on more passion-driven/more productive activities but they are out there today, still capitalizing on that one decision.

That’s not to say ditching academic education is sure to lead you to your success; in fact, it might just be the riskiest of all recipes. It does, however, serve as food for thought for all the young people still struggling to find their way and all the parents and mentors who should guide their efforts.

Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.

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