You need to help your child prioritize his or her daily tasks so that they know what tasks to focus on. This will help with their study skills and assist them to focus in school.
Educators have identified two ways of prioritization specifically for students. One is called the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. The second is referred to as the Important/Urgent Quadrant.
The 80/20 Rule postulates that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. The premise is that you focus your efforts on tasks that yield the best results. It helps you determine what tasks should be pursued and what tasks can wait or be ignored. In short it helps you focus on the 20% that matters. Teaching your child the Pareto principle will assure that they focus in school and polish their study skills.
So what do you have to do to help your child prioritize tasks using the Pareto Principle that helps them focus in school? You help your child evaluate each task. You do that by determining if every task that your child has passes the IS-RAW test. Evaluate the task and answer these questions:
1. Is the task an Irrelevant Interruption?
One type of action or task that can take time away from working on relevant and important tasks is interruptions. These non-productive tasks can steal up to 80% of your child’s time and prevent them from focusing in school. You need to help them reduce or eliminate these interruptions so that they can concentrate on their important tasks and thus achieve their goals and focus in school.
There are things you can do to minimize interruptions. Consider this:
a) Help your child segment time such that he or she is available and unavailable to others. Let people know when it is okay to interrupt your child and when it is not okay.
b) Teach your child that it is okay to say no! They can’t always be available to go to the mall with a friend or to toss the baseball or football around. When they have important tasks to do, they need to tell their friends no!
c) The telephone is a great invention, but it can also be a distraction. Set off some time in your child’s day to make and receive phone calls. Let them forget that the phone exists when they are working on important tasks. Don’t worry, they won’t miss anything. There is voice mail.
d) Don’t let e-mail bury them. Allow them to check it a few times a day. Otherwise turn it off and ignore it.
e) Impress upon your child to use Internet time wisely. It is not okay to surf the net, twitter, or post pictures on social networking pages when they should be working on important tasks. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but as far as your child is concerned it should just be another tool that helps them conduct research and focus in school.
2. Is the task Specific and detailed? No doubt you have been asked by a boss to accomplish a task, but you couldn’t do it because the assignment was too vague. Now consider your child performing a task. If a task can be too vague for you to pursue, then what about your child? It is imperative that tasks that your children embark on are detailed and specific. They need to understand what the task is so that they can wrap their arms around it and do it well.
3. Is the task Relevant? The whole purpose of this is to be certain that your child is focusing on tasks that help him or her achieve SMART short-term, intermediate and long-term goals. If the task at hand doesn’t help their goals it should not be pursued.
4. Is the task Actionable? Your child must be able to perform an action or actions that will assure that the task is achieved. Big tasks need to be bite-sized or right-sized to become actionable.
5. Is the task Worth the effort? Worthiness of a task is determined by how it affects long-term, intermediate and short-term goals. The activity does not pass the worth question unless it helps your child accomplish a goal. The worth of a task is determined by how much it helps their goals. Tasks with a higher worth or value should be prioritized over tasks that have lower worth.
If all your child’s tasks meet the ISRAW criteria delineated above, your child will be well on his or her way to focusing in school and developing good study skills.
To help them prioritize their IS-RAW task list further, categorize the tasks by importance and urgency. The categories can be defined as follows:
- Important and Not Urgent – The tasks that fall into this category are the most important and should assist your child to achieve their academic goals. Examples include all tasks that have been planned for and can prevent future crises.
- Important and Urgent – This category includes tasks with an immediate deadline. Examples are last minute prep tasks, crisis and other tasks that must be done.
- Not Important and Urgent – Tasks that fall into this category are distractions that prevent your child from focusing on their goals and keeps your child from performing important tasks. Examples are emails, phone calls and other interruptions
- Not Important and Not Urgent – This category holds the most wasteful tasks, those that have no value and should be ignored. Examples are junk mail and busy work.
Arrange the tasks in these 4 categories and make certain that they are small enough to focus on. Help to update your child’s task list weekly and monitor it daily. This list should be displayed in a visible location for both you and your child to see daily.
Assisting your child with these two prioritization principles ensures that they will understand task management and find it easier to focus in school.