We take time – and filling it – for granted. But using it well isn’t something that happens by accident and it isn’t always something that comes naturally.

The good news is that it is a simple skill to learn. And that can quickly become second nature. Although The Study Buddy is focused on helping teens reach their potential in their exams, the real goal is to embed great time management habits that will stand them in good stead in life beyond school, college and university.

There are three simple steps to planning time effectively. Many of us will do this without giving it much thought, but for our teens in particular who are used to having things arranged for them this tends not to be something they’re aware of.

When planning ahead, think of your time as being for three basic blocks:

Firstly, you have to meet your commitments.

Next, you should factor in the things you want to do.

Then finally, build in some study.

At its purest it really is as simple as that! 

Step 1: Commitments

The first thing to do is to block out the things you have to do. Start with the school day – you can’t avoid that! Also add things like jobs, sports fixtures, music lessons, tutor sessions, appointments and so on. These are the absolutes; your obligations

Step 2: Down-time

Next, make time for yourself. This is where you can determine what’s important. Whether it’s a new episode of your favourite show, getting together with friends or the all-important weekend lie-in. Your social time – and even your anti-social me-time – is a vital part of your week.

Step 3: Study

What time you have left is now fair game for revision. You can factor some school work without impacting on your life. But this isn’t a challenge to fill the gaps. Be sensible and allocate an amount you’re comfortable with, taking into account the amount of effort you need to put in to achieve your goals.

WRAP it up

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of The Study Buddy approach is the Weekly Review And Plan. Take 15-20 mins at the end of every week to look back and think about how the week went. Then use that to plan the week ahead. Are you studying too late into the evening? Are you better to just get on with school work straight after school, or would just after dinner suit you better. The plan is based on discipline and routine, but it is far from rigid and regiment. Learning and adapting is key to making time-management a success.

Why does this work?

It works because it is logical, first and foremost. What you have to, what you want to, what you need to (to reach your potential). Does it get any more straightforward than that?

It is also balanced. By focusing on the social and personal time we are reinforcing the importance of me-time and emphasising that study and school work isn’t taking over. This will also help down the line when priorities might have to change.

Most importantly it is flexible and adaptable. There’s structure to the week ahead but it can change weekly to suit changes in the demands on time and even how the mood grabs you!