Are Your Homework Plans Realistic?

Do you should on yourself when making plans?

During most of my coaching sessions with teens, we spend at least some of our time making plans for the next week. We break big projects down into smaller parts; we decide what study tasks will be done on which days before the test.

However, invariably my clients will make plans that they can’t keep! They tell me what they think they SHOULD say, rather than what they can realistically accomplish.

Here’s one way I handle that during our sessions:

Hey, don’t have time for the full video? I’ve got your back, here is a quick summary:

As you can imagine I do a LOT of planning with teenagers. Close to, if not more, than half of my sessions are planning out the next week or month based on what homework they’ve been assigned. Typically we look at what assignments they have upcoming and then planning backward to figure out what they should be doing each day/week/month as necessary.

During these planning sessions, quite often we’ll make a plan and my clients will say, “Sure I’ll do that”, or my personal favorite, “Sure I’ll do that Friday afternoon.” The vast majority of my clients and students I know, don’t want to do ANYTHING after school on Friday, even as a teacher I don’t. They are saying what they think they “should” say, instead of being realistic and making a plan they will actually follow through on.

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Homework | Plans | Planning | Clients | Assignments |

The way I handle this is by asking them, usually a few times, “Are you “shoulding” on yourself? Are these plans actually realistic?” I try to make sure they understand they don’t have to “should” on themselves. It won’t benefit them to make a plan they know they won’t follow through on, or that they will just end up procrastinating for later. So we revise the plan using my triangle, “tools, team, and routine”, to make a more realistic homework plan.

If you want to know more about the triangle, “tools, team, and routine”, you can find it in the “Overcome Procrastination” section of the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

A Handy Tool for College Students to Start the Semester

I’m excited to share with you a handy tool for college students.

This was taught to me by a real live student (shout out to Harrison!). He is a sophomore in college and interned with me over the summer.
I LOVE this tool that he makes for himself, and I wanted to share it with you all — including a tweak or two that I’d make to it.

Check out the video, and then PLEASE forward it to any college students you know could benefit from this handy little one-page organizational tool.

For more time management and study solutions for students, parents and educators, please sign up for the Anti-Boring Approach to Successful Studying Course HERE

Tips to Wrap Up the Summer without Stress

Tips to wrap up the summer without stressThe beginning of the school year is always crazy and stressful for families.

But if you follow these tips for wrapping up the summer, you’ll save yourself some stress later on.

It’s an investment of time that’s well worth it. 

Here’s the basic checklist:

  • Update your resume
  • Get basic school supplies before stores run out
  • Finish the summer assignments
  • Make appointments to talk to people from school
  • Put all the dates from the school’s calendar into YOUR calendar
  • send thank you’s to anyone who helped you
  • Ask for recommendation letters
  • Attend orientation
  • Write goals for the year

Now listen in so that you can hear Megan and Gretchen’s commentary about each one!

Stop Making This Mistake When You Write in Your Planner

Planners: students love them or hate them. Which one are you?

I try to make sure that all clients who work with me have some method of what I call “making time visible,” even if you’re the type who hates planners.

However, there is a common mistake students make when they write their assignments down, and I rant about it this video:

Got any other ideas about alternative words to use in your planner in place of “study”? Or questions? I’d love to hear from you.

A Sneaky Trick for Getting Your Teens to Use Their Calendars

Every year when I meet with new coaching clients, parents complain that their kids don’t  manage time well. I often ask: how do you model time management to your teen?!

Parents can usually tell me what their personal  method of managing their calendar is like. They often have a family system for consolidating appointments in one place, like a calendar that hangs in the kitchen. However, usually the parent is the one managing everything, and the teen is a passive recipient.  Rarely can parents point to an established process for doing calendaring alongside their teen.

 

Family Meeting to the Rescue

Every year I suggest that families have a family calendering meeting once a week. Many families I work with tell me that it’s too difficult to get everyone together for this kind of a meeting. However, I contend that if you can’t prioritize time management for your whole family, how can you expect your child to do it for school? I honestly believe that, if families took me up on this suggestion, it will totally transform their ability to plan efficiently together…and simultaneously build a strong time management habit in their teen.

Here’s one way to conduct your meeting:

Every week at the same time, ask everyone to bring their planner (or blackberry, iphone or laptop) to the meeting. The sole purpose of the meeting is for everyone to share what is on their calendar during the upcoming week, to record any appointments that effect them directly, and to problem solve any calendering conflicts that emerge.

I highly recommend that this meeting is a collaborative effort. It is not a time for parents to be the authoritarian controlling the calendar. Rather  it is a time for everyone — parents, teens, and younger kids — to share what is going on in the week, and make sure that anything that effects them is noted in their planner.

Here’s an example:

Parent #1 might note that (s)he will work late on Tuesday, and so Parent #2 writes that down in his/her calendar. Pre-teen Sister notices that this means that she won’t get picked up  on time from basketball practice, and so asks Older Brother if he can pick her up instead.

Then Parent #2 reminds Older Brother that he has a dentist appointment on Wednesday at 10:30am; when he writes it down, he notices that he has a Spanish test that day. He makes a note to talk to his teacher about an alternate time to take the test. Pre-Teen sister reminds the family that she has a project due on Thursday, and will need a ride to the library on Monday night. Parent #1 offers to drive.

Everyone writes everything down in their own calendar.

Why is this a magic solution to family calendaring?!

The family meeting:

  • Models effective time management, as well as collaboration and peaceful conflict resolution when issues come up
  • Helps kids and teens build a personal habit in the context of a family habit. After all, if the family can’t be organized enough to refer to the planner once a week, why should the teen be that organized on on his or her own?
  • Gives a time for kids to think ahead about school projects (which many are not naturally inclined to do on their own)
  • Requires that kids (and parents!) actually have a planner, refer to it, and write in it (another habit that teens aren’t likely to do on their own).
  • Expects that family members come to the meeting already knowing what their week will look like. That means keeping up the calendar in between family meetings!
  • Models a great technique teens can use later in life, in roommate situations or community living.

Finally, a common complaint I hear from teens is that, “My parents didn’t tell me I had to go to Grandma’s house on Thursday night, so I couldn’t plan ahead!” or “My parents didn’t tell me I had that dentist appointment, so I couldn’t plan ahead with my teacher.” Of course, it’s highly possible that the parents in question DID tell the teen, but he or she didn’t HEAR them. However, it’s also possible that mom or dad totally forgot to tell the teen what’s coming up. The family makes both these possibilities a moot point by providing a time to get everyone on the same page.

Have you experimented with family meetings for calendering? Does your family have another method that works for you? Please comment below and tell us your story!

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Take Time Out To Slow Cook

20110826-100823.jpgEvery year I encourage my academic coaching clients to decorate their planners (otherwise, time management can be so uninspiring). Because I practice what I preach, I made a collage too. Can you tell what my intentions for the school year include? The poem (made of found words) sums it up:

True Vitality:

calm minds take time out
to slow cook.
break free!
the pleasure of not being perfect.
double your salary of possibilities
and live lighter
(yes, you can!)