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Separate "Planning" from "Doing"
  • Calendar Jul 11, 2018
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
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stressed student

Is this how your son or daughter feels when they get home from school?

One of the key themes of our “Getting Things Done for Students” workshop this summer is creating a separate time for "planning" that is independent of the time for "doing".

What is the problem?

Think about the experience that a student has when they are coming home from school. In their mind, they have these half formed ideas about things they need to do this afternoon, this week, this month. They get home and it is time to get started. And what happens? They sit down at the desk and just work on something, with little thought to how important that item is. And when they don’t consciously think about what they want to work on, their subconscious will think about it for them, and will decide based on criteria like -What is the easiest/fastest thing I can do now? Do that first -What is the class I feel most positive about? Work on that class. -What is the class I feel least positive about? Avoid that class. -What is the most boring assignment? Avoid it. -Is it not due for a long time? Avoid it. Sometimes those are valid questions to ask, and sometimes those are valid answers. However, these are questions that need to be asked AND answered in a deliberate, conscious way. But if we don’t set aside a time that is JUST for asking just such questions (and other, more important questions!) to the extent they are asked and answered at all, they will be asked and answered ONLY subconsciously because the focus of the time is DOING, not PLANNING.

"Sacred 15"

One of the ideas we’ll be talking about in our "Getting Things Done" workshop is the “Sacred 15”. This is a 15 minute period per day, every day, that is spent ONLY thinking about and writing down: 1) What do I need to to? 2) What is my plan for doing it? (break it into smaller subtasks if necessary) and 3) When am I going to do it? (schedule time in their planner to do each of those things.) This “Sacred 15” is the same time every day, even weekends. It’s sacred because we want students to treat this as though it is the MOST important 15 minute period of their day. It will help them reduce stress, reduce mental clutter, and learn to make better decisions (or make decisions at all!) about how to allocate their time. And for a student who feels overwhelmed, it’s a very easy thing to skip in either the rush to get something, anything done, or the temptation to just ignore their responsibilities altogether in an effort to push the stress out of their minds. Keeping the time consistent will make it easier to create a daily habit.  

Ways parents can help:

Have a family planning time Have your “Sacred 15” for the entire family! Set a time when everyone, adults included, takes out his or her planner and maps out the next day’s tasks together. Parents and students can either just plan their days out on their own (and it’s just a shared time and space that it is done in), or parents can provide support to students as needed/desired.   Respect planning time: Consider your son/daughter’s “Sacred 15” as inviolate. Don’t distract them during their planning time. This is important time for your son or daughter to be spending, so treat it that way!   Respect their plan: It’s frustrating to spend time and effort on something only to have that effort undone by someone else. Certainly, part of planning is about understanding what responsibilities you have and accounting for them, and also understanding that things don’t always go to plan! That said, if your child is consistently having their plans disrupted my last minute family things, they will feel as though their efforts to plan are pointless. -Vince If your student struggles with planning and organization, check out our upcoming "Getting things done: for students" workshop starting in September. Call 858.551.2650, or email for more information.

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