Thinking Skills: Time Management

What is Time Management?

Time Management is the thinking skill that helps children to prioritize tasks and complete duties in a timely fashion. It involves accurately judging the amount of time it will take to complete a task and knowing how to stick to a schedule. An example of good Time Management skills would be when a child decides to finish their homework and chores immediately after school so they have time to watch TV later in the evening.

Video games can help improve Time Management by allowing kids to practice their Time Management skills while in the midst of a fun and immersive gaming experience. Many games require the player to complete a certain amount of tasks and challenges within a limited time frame. Games often require that players prioritize their actions to maximize their progress and success.

Watch the video to learn more about how video games can help to improve your child’s Time Management skills.

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How does Time Management work?

Time Management is an essential skill for a child’s success at school. It allows a child to complete tasks in a timely manner by correctly estimating the time necessary to finish an undertaking and helps them to make and follow a schedule. Time Management often involves a child monitoring their own effort and actions, having an appropriate sense of urgency to complete assignments, and having the ability to follow step-by-step procedures.

Kids with good Time Management skills:

  • Tend to be good at planning and scheduling.
  • Are able to judge how long it will take to complete tasks.
  • Are able to complete tasks or chores in a timely fashion.
  • Prioritize their activities effectively.
  • Anticipate the time needed to complete long-term school projects.

Kids with underdeveloped Time Management skills:

  • Frequently need to rush through their homework.
  • Often stay up very late to complete assignments.
  • Have difficulty estimating how long it will take to complete a task.
  • Spend more time procrastinating than working.
  • Take too long to get ready for school in the morning.

Improve Time Management  Skills

These are some general strategies and ideas for helping kids improve their Time Management skills.

  • Maintain a daily to-do list with your child. Develop a regular routine of listing two to four priorities for the coming day. As your child gets better at doing this, it may be possible to increase the number of postings per day.
  • Reward effective Time Management. If your child can budget time to finish their work right after school, then reward them with a favorite movie or program later that night. If your child finishes a project for school on time, then take them out to their favorite restaurant.
  • Help your child break down bigger tasks into smaller ones. For example, if your child has a science fair project due in a month, help by breaking the project down into weekly tasks and requiring that certain parts of the project be done by the end of each week.
  • Make certain tasks into a competition. For example, keep track of how long it takes your child to complete their chores with a timer, and then challenge them to beat their previous record.

Time Management and Academic Skills

Time Management plays a major role in a student’s productivity. There are many students who may have great academic skills but have difficulty in effectively demonstrating what they know because they do not give themselves adequate time to complete tasks to the best of their abilities. Recognizing the need for preparation, having a good sense of how long an assignment might take, and being able to prioritize one’s activities all play a role in academic success. Time Management also plays a role in strategic test taking, where students need to learn how to fully answer questions they know the answers to before spending extra time on more difficult problems.


  • Time Management skills help kids to leave enough time to complete a reading assignment, or to recognize when they might need time to reread complex material.


  • Prioritizing information and excluding irrelevant information is a part of managing one’s time and approach to tasks.
  • Time Management helps kids develop a number sense as it relates to the amount of time and effort they may need for academic tasks.


  • Time Management helps kids utilize their time effectively while organizing ideas and generating a written product.
  • Time Management skills are essential for gauging the amount of time needed to produce written responses for test and quiz questions.

Time Management and Digital Play

Playing video games, searching the Internet, trying out the newest app, or Facebooking a friend demands a variety of Thinking Skills. Proficiency with any of these digital tools requires the ability to apply skills such as Planning, Organization, Working Memory, or Self-Awareness. For children, the attraction of  video games and technologies makes them an ideal teaching tool for practicing game-based skills and learning to apply them to school and daily activities.

Time Management plays a prominent role in several game genres, as well as in the functionality of many of today’s gadgets and apps. Many young people use their cell phones as tools for setting alarms for waking up in the morning, reminding them about assignments, or alerting them about sports practice or lessons. Many of the best video games require time management skills that go far beyond “beating the clock.” Real time strategy games often require prioritization of one’s actions in a game in order to be able to respond effectively to enemies or challenges within the game. Puzzle games also require players to think quickly and effectively so as not to be penalized.

Digital play can improve Time Management skills by helping kids to:

  • Learn how to begin a video game efficiently and focus clearly on their goals and objectives.
  • Complete multiple tasks in succession in games that award extra points, prizes, or privileges to players who complete challenges in a shorter period of time.
  • Prioritize and keep a schedule in real-time strategy games. Depending upon the game, this ensures that crops will be harvested at the correct time, defensive armies will be set up before one is attacked, or a particular character will appear at a specific time or place in the game.
  • Master an electronic calendar, scheduler, or to-do list. The regular use of these tools can dramatically improve a child’s Time Management and reduce the necessity of parents to continue to nag or remind their children.

Time Management and Executive Functions

Time management is a commonly-identified executive function that is usually defined as the capacity to complete tasks on time and to have an appropriate sense of time urgency and time estimation. It is a core component of Dawson and Guare’s theory of executive functions after which we patterned our thinking skills for LearningWorks for Kids.

As an executive function, time management also includes the capacity to coordinate the sequence of responses and often involves scheduling, prioritizing, and sequencing behavior. Time management helps children to recognize how much time they need to complete their homework or other tasks, as well as having a sense of how much time a particular task will take. Time management is an executive skill that is often used in conjunction with planning and focus.

Assessing the executive function of time management in children involves determining how readily they complete tasks such as homework assignments or chores. Time management takes into account not only their capacity to prioritize these tasks, but also how long it takes them to complete activities that help them achieve a goal. Assessment based on the Executive Skills Questionnaire measures primarily timeliness and prioritization. This scale focuses on behavior such as wasting time, understanding the urgency of a task, and the pace at which one approaches recreational and educational activities.

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