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  • Heather Davis

Time Management is Rooted in Childhood Self-Control & Practice

Children are infamous for their shameless distortion and unapologetic indifference to time.

Not yet ruled by the clock and calendar, any adherence to a schedule is regarded as a nonessential interference to their daily lives. They are the lucky ones: still naively and brilliantly living in the present.

Temporal awareness develops slowly during the childhood brain maturation process.

The ability to accurately judge time is part of a greater set of executive functioning skills, the evolution of which are key for academic achievement and also for success later in life.

Time management is life management.” – Robin Sharma

Self-directed executive functioning & time

Executive functioning skills are those fundamental building blocks required for learning.

These include goal-directed behavior; the ability to plan, problem solve and be organized; having self-control; and the ability to pay attention & focus.

Also critical is the ability to manage these variables within limited time resources, and to learn to value time: our own and that of others’.

Research has long connected these building blocks in childhood with later adult success.

Better three hours too soon than one minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

Teaching the value of time

Learning to value time begins early.

Teaching concepts of timeliness (doing things at the right time) and punctuality (the habit of being on time) impact success in all areas of life: in school, at work and in relationships.

Both are important and signal responsibility, dependability and a respect for one’s self and others. Chronic lateness impacts and shows a lack of regard for those around us.

Kids that struggle with punctuality also often wrestle with organizational skills. But before the nuggets of time management and organization, we have to address over-packed and over-structured schedules that can stand in the way.

Value of less-structured time for kids

Developing self-directed executive functioning works the same way as everything else – through practice.

Learning to manage one’s own time and schedule, requires kids first have available time and space to work with in order to exercise these budding skills.

Researchers Barker, et al. (2014) found that too much structured time works against children learning to manage and direct themselves. They found that self-directed, independent functioning was improved as less-structured time increased.

The opposite was also true: the more time spent in structured activities, the worse the self-directed functioning development.

Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don’t talk back.” – W.K. Hope

Time management skills are rooted in self-regulation

The ability to manage ourselves, our time and our goals are keys to self-efficacy.

At its core, time management is about the ability to be self-disciplined. It requires us to monitor our own behavior and pace to complete tasks efficiently and methodically.

Research has long-connected self-control in children with later academic, career, financial and even parenting success.

Duckworth and Seligman (2005) conducted two separate studies of eighth-graders and found that self-discipline predicted academic performance better than: intelligence (IQ), the school attended, study habits or time spent not watching TV.

In fact, the ability for adolescents to manage themselves and their time forecasted better grades, better attendance, higher test scores and even future acceptance into a preferred high school program.

If it’s the ability to self-manage and self-monitor that fuels progress, not only in school but in life. Procrastination has shown to do just the opposite.

It’s an existentially relevant problem, because it’s not getting on with life itself. You only get a certain number of years. What are you doing?” – Timothy Pychyl

Procrastination is lack of self-control

As many as one in 5 people may be habitual procrastinators, according to DePaul University professor and procrastination expert, Joseph Ferrari.

Procrastination is the voluntarily avoidance of doing what we know we should be doing. It’