PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Time Management: Schoolwork

During the school day, your schedule is probably made up for you. Once the bell rings, though, it's up to you to take control of school-related Have-To's.

Write everything down. Put your homework assignments, test dates, and project due-dates on paper as soon as your teacher gives them to you. If you keep your Weekly Planner with you, all this info will be in one place rather than scribbled on random pieces of paper or in notebook margins.

Stay organized. Keeping your schoolwork and papers organized helps you manage time. Keep each class or subject in its own folder, or buy one of those multi-pocket folders that will hold the whole shebang. Try making a weekly homework and assignment chart and tape it to your folder each Monday, so you'll always have it right in front of you. We've made up a Weekly Homework Chart for you to print and use.

Avoid distractions. Stay away from TV, the phone, the Web, and all other distracting things while you're doing school assignments. If you're trying to read your English homework while American Idol is on, you'll probably spend half your time listening to the show, and it'll take you much longer to finish your reading. Consider this: get the assignment finished first, and then watch the tube. You'll understand your schoolwork better and enjoy the TV show more.

Set homework time. Set a regular block of time each afternoon or evening to do all your homework and studying. Make sure everyone in the family knows about this time, so that they can give you the space and quiet you need to concentrate.

Think about space as well as time. Try and create a regular quiet space, either in a bedroom, spare room, or office, where you keep your school stuff and work on assignments. The kitchen table is not usually the best place to do homework, since all the distractions can slow you down and make your work more difficult.

Get your family involved. Show your parents or guardian your school assignments and responsibilities every day and week. They can help you plan out your schedule, set aside time, and remind you of upcoming deadlines.

Don't underestimate assignments. Many of us look at a school assignment and think "I can get that done in a few minutes," then find out that it really takes an hour. Before you put an assignment into your schedule, make sure you have a realistic idea of how long it will take to complete it. When in doubt, ask an adult. It's also a good idea to ask your teacher, "How long should this take to finish?" when he or she hands out the assignment.

Break up big assignments into smaller chunks. Some homework is long-term research or study projects, and will require you to schedule blocks of time over one or more weeks. A good way to do this is to break a big task up into smaller tasks, and accomplish each goal one at a time until everything is done.

    If you're studying for a big test:

    1. Mark the date of the test in your Weekly Planner or Monthly Calendar.

    2. Count backwards the number of days you need to study. If the test is on a Monday, and you need
        one week to study, count back to the previous Monday and mark that as the first day of studying. Even
        better, count back a few extra days to leave some "wiggle room" in case an emergency comes up.

    3. On your daily and weekly planners, schedule enough time each day so that you'll have the material
        down cold.

    4. Divide up the things you have to study and tackle a different idea each day.

    If you're doing a book report or long-term project:

    1. Be realistic about how many days of work the project will take, and then count backwards from
        the due date.

    2. Chop up the project into smaller tasks, and try to accomplish one of these each day. If it's a book
        report, consider chopping up the work by reading a chapter a day (or more if they're small chapters).
        This means you have to schedule as many days as the book has chapters, as well as enough time
        to write the report.

    3. If it's a research paper or other project, make a list of all the things you have to do, like research,
        making an outline, writing the different sections, and so on. On your Monthly Calendar, assign
        yourself a deadline for each of these steps, and finish them one at a time. This way, your project will
        be a series of small assignments instead of a big, overwhelming one.

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