Organization is a Skill, Not a Talent

I found myself saying this to my son last night, as he was plotting how to get a better handle on being proactive with his responsibilities. He wants to be very on top of things, but he doesn’t have the skills yet.

You can have an inclination for being organized, but in the end it comes down to building habits.

I am more organized today than I was a year ago, to say nothing of ten or twenty years ago.

As a teacher and parent, I think it’s one of the most important skills I can help build in my kids. Here are a few things we can do to help.

  • Help craft a daily schedule/plan. If you’re having trouble, I will sit with you and plan your hours (like a mentor did for me).
  • Make it visible. Maybe the student or child has trouble seeing the calendar in their mind. No wonder deadlines creep up if you can’t visualize a week.
  • Show the big picture. This one is important. Give students the whole-year calendar in advance, and expect them to own it. A teacher can give the entire semester’s schedule ahead of time, so students can manage their time in planning big projects and outside tasks.
  • Expect and check the use of a calendar system. (Uh-oh, this might mean a necessary use of phones in rehearsal)
  • Encourage communication with everyone. “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith? I see you have a big essay due March 11 but that’s the opening night of the musical. Can we talk about either extending the deadline so I can have the weekend to finish, or else giving me the topic early so I can work ahead while I have more free time?” I can guarantee that 99% of adults jump for joy at that kind of communication. Feed that line of thinking to your students.

Time management is the key to so many doors; if we don’t actively talk about it and help our young people develop the skills, it will take them a lot longer to develop them (if they ever do).

Here’s what it comes down to: no one else is going to teach your students the skills of time management: it’s on you. That goes double for your own children.