Teens, Time Management and the Art of Bedmaking

I’m a very self-driven sort of guy, able to juggle a lot of things simultaneously. Heck, on any given day I might be tackling a dozen different projects, taking care of my children, driving to school appointments, and squeezing in time to hit the gym too. It’s an essential skill for any entrepreneur and probably for any human being if they have more in their life than a single task or person to focus upon. And who has that luxury in our modern, complicated world?

unmade bed
Is it so hard to make your bed?

And so I just assume that the people around me also have decent time management skills, ranging from an ability to be punctual to the ability to get more than one thing done at a time. And yet, it’s a very common occurrence that I’m the only person who shows up prior the start time of a meeting or lecture or I’m the one sitting at Starbucks or a restaurant, wondering where my colleague or friend has gone. Five, ten, fifteen minutes late, it can be quite frustrating.

Meanwhile there are changes in my childrens lives that require them to get much better at time management: not only is my 18yo still enrolled in an online school but we’re letting my 15yo son switch and finish up his 9th grade coursework online too with the same California-based online program. The wrinkle is that any online program requires a laser-focused time management skill because once you start falling behind, just like owing money to the local loan shark, you’ll find yourself getting further and further behind before you know it.

And so it’s both frustrating and liberating, in a weird, zen sense, to watch my 18yo have a difficult time managing her time and trying to help her avoid falling too far behind in both her coursework and her life. Even something as simple as making her bed in the morning (a house rule I have: everyone makes their beds in the morning) can take hours. And what’s she doing? What every teen is doing: finding that the siren song of the Internet, of Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat are luring her onto the rocks, to capsize and, well, let’s just say it rarely ends well.

But at 18, a child is no longer a child. They’re an adult and I believe ready to make their own decisions and travel through their day and their life based on their own motivations and desires. I can comment, I can assist, I can offer suggestions on other ways to do things, but I can’t force anything to happen or not happen. I could block Instagram at the house wifi router, for example,  but then she’ll just use her phone as a wifi hotspot and go online through that instead. The point is, as a young adult, things have to be internally motivated, not external.

That’s the great challenge of adolescence, and at times I feel we let our children launch too late. My Dad constantly talked about how he was out of school and working at 14. Maybe that’s a bit too young, but really, what 18, 19 or 20 year old needs to still be living with their parents instead of stepping into their own lives, successfully or otherwise. Growth comes from experience, after all, not movies, TV shows, books or blog posts.

And so, finally, the bed was made this morning. But progress on the academic front? All I can do is hope…

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