The Greatest Time Management Challenge for Students

What is the biggest chunk of time that you consider “an awkward amount of time”? You know what I’m talking about… when you have some time free that you consider too short to really accomplish a task but long enough that you might feel guilty about your time management if you just sit and do nothing. So what is that amount of time for you? 10 minutes? 30 minutes? an hour?

And more importantly, how long is that chunk of time for your child?

Today we’re talking about the hidden value of an “awkward amount of time.”

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I teach English online to children in China. I do this through the company VIPKid. With VIPKid, you have to write the parents a note after each class giving them feedback about their child’s performance in the lesson. The lessons are 25 minutes long and with a 5-minute break in between for writing feedback or grabbing a snack or drink of water. Or in my case, another cup of coffee!

When I first started contracting with them, I thought, what on Earth can you possibly accomplish in a 25-minute class? And only a 5-minute break! That’s not nearly long enough to get anything done at all! I thought I was fairly decent at time management… little did I know!

Now I’ve been with them for almost an entire year. And guess what? I’ve become a productivity ninja in those 5 minutes! I have a killer strategy for drafting up feedback in that 5-minute break. I also know just how long it takes me to debrief with the husband about our plans for the day, how long it takes me to brew and fix up my second cup of coffee, and even how long it takes to serve up my dog’s breakfast.

There’s a reason I’m sharing all of this stuff… I promise!

So why am I telling you all this?

Because right now, with no real sense of urgency beyond the test they have in a week, your child feels how I felt when I first started teaching online. Like 5 minutes don’t have any real value. Perhaps they even consider 30 minutes or even an hour to be a somewhat useless amount of time.

But take it from me. When you make time management a priority, 5 minutes are invaluable!

And that is why I encourage all my students and their parents to create a shift in their thinking from focusing on tasks to focusing on time.

I’ll even take my personal example a step further, so you can see why I am such a huge advocate of time-based strategizing.

On the days I teach, I have anywhere from 2 to 6 lessons per morning, so my goal each day is to complete each lesson’s feedback during those 5 minutes so that I don’t have to write them all at the end.

When I set myself the goal to complete my feedback for a class in 5-minutes, I can do 6 lessons worth of feedback in 30. After my last class ends at 7:55, I write that lesson’s feedback and I’m done by 8am. However, some days I’m feeling sluggish, or I want to use my breaks to make coffee, chat with my husband, or use the bathroom… on days like those, I may manage to get through the whole round of classes without writing a single note of feedback. YIKES!

Well, on days when I have to write all 6 notes at the end, I don’t have a sense of urgency to complete one note every 5 minutes. And let me tell you – this lack of urgency shows. I’ve been known to take HOURS to write those same 6 lesson feedback notes!

I told you there was a reason I was telling you all this!

I’m not one to gamble… but I bet you anything that that’s your child’s daily scenario. You see them taking 2 hours for a task that could have been accomplished in half an hour! And isn’t it SO annoying and frustrating to watch! You want to just grab them by the shoulders and make them realize that they could have finished hours ago and gone to play the games they so desperately want to play. Why do they waste so much time!

Well… they waste time for two reasons. First of all, they don’t realize how much can be accomplished in just a few short minutes. Oh sure, they can see it from the other side, they know that 3 hours is a long time to “waste” on homework. But they don’t see those 3 valuable hours are made up of all those minutes that they felt were “awkward” amounts of time and essentially useless.

And second? They don’t have a sense of urgency to get through any particular task. So why rush? And to be fair, this may not be a conscious decision. Just like I don’t actively choose to spend 4 hours writing 30-minutes worth of notes. They just… get distracted… and they can’t always help it, or even notice it’s happening until it’s way too late.


I hope that this gets you shifting your thinking about time and time management. Short chunks of time aren’t awkward! Sometimes, they are just the right amount of time you need to complete a task that will save you hours down the road. You just have to see them for what they are and take advantage when they do come up!

I’m currently offering free 1:1 consulting calls for parents that would like some individualized support on time management and beyond. If you would like to book a call, just book an appointment here.

And if you’d like to subscribe to my podcast, you can do so right here!

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