Do you struggle from a lack of organizational skills? Are you often completing tasks and assignments at the ‘Last-Minute?’ Study skills expert Susan Kruger outlines How To Cure “last-Minute Syndrome” in this informative article.
“Anything done ‘last-minute’ will take twice as long as it would have if it had been planned ahead of time.”
If your family is regularly losing valuable time because of simple, everyday tasks, you will automatically function in a state of chaos. Homework compounds the problem because it escalates the fights and arguments in a family that is already strung out.
Every day we hear from parents who are completely exhausted, thinking they are the only ones who can’t “get it together.” In reality, most families are in a similar situation. Growing up, mine was no different.
My two younger brothers and I would always get in trouble with Dad. We were notorious for coming to Dad at 9:30 PM to tell him about supplies we needed for a science project that was due, of course, the very next day. Dad would be livid! “Why can’t you kids learn to plan ahead!?”
The problem was that we didn’t know how to plan ahead. The only times we were ever prompted to think about planning ahead were at the moments when Dad was angry, which made us angry as well. Science has proven that when a brain is angry, it is incapable of learning. So, our pattern continued.
As an adult, I can understand why we were causing Dad so much frustration, and why he drove us crazy too.
For one thing, each family member had competing priorities and we never coordinated our plans. Yes, we were guilty of waiting until the last minute to tell Dad about our science project, but he also was famous for waiting until the last minute to tell us about appointments he had scheduled or errands he had to run. He would pick us up from school and the next thing we knew, we were being whisked off to the orthodontist instead of home!
We had not taken the time to communicate our priorities, goals, and desires. As simple as it may sound, having 30 minutes to “chill” in front of the TV with an afternoon snack would have greatly helped our disposition. At the same time, we had no appreciation for everything Dad on his plate, either. Our family functioned like most do: the children and parents had competing priorities and time constraints, and neither group thought to view the day from the other’s perspective.
Secondly, children are not taught how to plan ahead, but we assume they should know how to do it… that they will just “figure it out.” In reality, this is a very high expectation that few children are able to meet on their own. Time is a very vague concept for children, even for teenagers. The process of thinking forward requires a child to visualize things that have not yet happened and then imagine his or her place and circumstances in the imaginary time. This is a very high-level thought process that is not likely to develop on its own.
However, it is possible to prevent many of these last-minute situations and teach our children how to plan ahead. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy.
Start by regularly having a conversation with your children. Share schedules and plans with each other on a regular basis. Tell your family about plans as early as possible. Reciprocate with, “Do you have anything coming up that I should know about?”
It is vital that you maintain a two-way conversation! Avoid lots of questions that will feel like an interrogation to your child or teen. Remember, our children are just like us; we don’t like to be pestered by lots of questions from our boss, or spouse, or anyone else! The best way to avoid an interrogation is simply to tell your children about your day and your plans, as well. (It works like a charm!)
Discuss and visualize “transition points.” With your child or teen, brainstorm a list of common times and places that represent transitions throughout their day. These are times when they should pause and “think forward” for a moment. One location and time might be at their locker at the end of the school day when they can pause and think, “What will I need for homework tonight?” Another location would be at home, before they go to bed. They can think forward about what they will need in the morning, and then gather all of their clothes, homework, and supplies before they go to bed.
Ten minutes a week is all it takes!
Susan Kruger is the author of SOAR Study Skills; A Simple and Efficient System for Earning Better Grades in Less Time. Get Susan’s FREE Guide, Six Steps to Conquer the Chaos: How to Organize and Motivate Students for Success, at her website, studyskills.com. If you enjoyed How to Cure “Last-Minute Syndrome”, read more of Susan’s articles on organizational skills, study skills and more, Click Here.