Teachers, are you concerned about an increasing number of students who seem super overwhelmed at this time in the semester…and do you wish there was something that you, as a classroom teacher, could do about that overwhelm?

 Students, maybe you are feeling that overwhelmed–there’s just too much you have to try and juggle right now…and you have no idea how to do it?

I have been having this one conversation with a number of different students at a new school where I’m consulting right now. Sometimes, the conversation lasts only  five minutes and some of the students’ eyes get big and they feel so much relief. So I want to share the exact words I use in that time management conversation here with you. Educators, I invite you to try it out with your classes. You can lead it as a whole group discussion or one-on-one students. 

Whether you’re a student or an educator, I invite you to get out a piece of paper and Lead yourself through this conversation right now, and let’s just see if there’s a little bit of extra ease that comes after we do this.

The first thing that I do when I’m leading this conversation (so far I’ve only led it one-on-one), is I get out my whiteboard or a piece of paper and I write: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday across the top. I tell the student we are going to map out your week; we are going to make time visible. Then, I ask a very simple question which is: when, on each of these days, do you have time to devote to schoolwork,  and then I just wait and hear what they have to say.

Everyone’s different! If you’re a high school or middle school student, probably most of the time available for you is in the evenings, though there might be a study hall or two during the day. The particular students I’ve been talking to all have times during the day because they are young adults at a medical school. 

So let’s just look at some of the kinds of answers they’ve been telling me. For example, one student: 

  • on Monday had between 8 A.M and 11 A.M available
  • Tuesday she didn’t have any time until the very end of the day, between 8 to 10 pm  
  • Wednesday, she actually had most of the day free 
  • Thursday she had the same class schedule as Tuesday, so had the same late night chunk from 8 to 10 pm
  • Friday most of the day was free

We simply mapped out the times that were available for studying. That’s all we did. There’s more you can do that we’ll talk about in a moment, but with this one student, this is all we did. She came into the conversation thinking, “there is no time to do anything, and I’m tired and overwhelmed all the time.” But when we mapped it out–when we actually made time visible–her eyes got big, and she thought, “Oh, there’s more time than I thought!”

For this student, it was true, there was more time available than she realized, but–and this is what was really key–the bigger problem has been that she’s been staying up too late trying to get work done…and not getting it done and then sleeping through some of these daytime chunks so she isn’t able to take action then.

So, once we had arrived at the crux of the problem, we brainstormed ideas for how she can get to bed earlier. Will it work for her? Well, I don’t know. She has to go experiment with a number of the ideas we came up with…but the more important thing is, she got a little space from the overwhelm. She realized she has more time than she thought, and she felt hope! Sometimes, hope is all we need. We can’t actually get motivated, but maybe we can have some hope. And what I am learning is that most students really get that hope when we make time visible. 

So, educators, I highly recommend you lead this conversation with your students.

Students, I highly recommend you map out your time like this to see what’s available for you.

This particular student actually texted me later and said, “Gretchen, can you send me my making time visible chart because I’d like to see it to be reminded what I said.” So I texted her a picture of it. Having the picture was super helpful for her.

Whether you’re an educator or a student, if you have any questions for me, I have a free office hours session that I host once a month where I’m happy to support you in finding the answers you need. You can sign up here  to get the link and even submit your question in advance so you’ll get the answer on the replay if it turns out you can’t attend live.

Also, you can download my free time management guide for educators and students!

When you try this, I’d love to hear how it goes for you! Please leave a comment below or send me an email at officewiz@gretchenwegner.com and let me know the insights you come up with!