Often when I talk to high school students, their number one presenting concern is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and tired. This is a feeling I’m sure we can all relate to! When faced with a new task, we can at times immediately feel defeated and like things are out of control. When we feel this way, it can look like: shut down, unwilling to learn, unwilling to change and defiant. It can sound like: I can’t…, I don’t have enough…, what if… or even the old and faithful “We just got it yesterday!”

Time management is one of my favourite things to discuss in counselling, especially when you have a committed client. So, I thought, for this Mueller Connect I would walk you through a typical (Mrs Harmer style), counselling session for time management.

The first thing I use in a counselling session with students who are feeling overwhelmed is this weekly schedule from 101 Planners. We colour in the spaces where we have school, work, outside of school activities (i.e. sport, dance etc), church, youth, travel time, what time we go to bed, what time we go to sleep (these are very different questions), what time we wake up (not to be confused with “what time is your alarm?”), and anything else that we regularly do in the week. This process shows us the spare time (or lack thereof) in our week.

If we are lacking time in our week, it might be time to reschedule some extracurricular activities so that our young people have the best opportunity. However, normally, for most students this process of blocking out our week provides a sense of calm and clarity to see the hours they actually have free. From here, we can schedule free time and study time. It is important to have a good balance of both.

The next thing we’ll look at is this monthly calendar from 101 Planners. We write in all the assessment tasks and drafts due over the term. I ask the student to pick a colour for each subject and highlight accordingly. From here, we discuss how long we’ll need to study for or complete these assessments, and we write that in too. We often highlight from the day we want to start studying through to the due date. You will notice, the build-up of highlighted lines over the week which will help the student understand just how much they’re committing to.

After we have done this, I often say to students “it’s okay if you throw this out the second you walk out the door!” although, I’m yet to see this happen. This is because, I completely recognise that most students, even as hard as they try, are going to stray from this, even more so if it’s enforced. Once they start to stray, they may come back to those feelings of defeat or out of control. I strongly believe that even just doing this process once in a counselling session is helping the young person take ownership over their time and therefore plan or reschedule accordingly.

If the student has not thrown this out and still has it accessible, they can refer back to the weekly schedule to remind themselves of the time they have access to and then plan again accordingly.

Ebony Harmer – School Counsellor