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University of Minnesota Extension

Youth activity: Manage your time for well-being

What it is

Time management is important for youth in many situations: school, chores, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs.  Building time management skills will help youth now and in adulthood. This activity will help youth become more aware of how they spend their time, how to prioritize activities and how  and make choices to support their wellness.

Why it matters

Getting started

  • Materials: Blank sheet of paper, pencil, pie chart handout, and crayons or colored pencils or markers
  • Time: 30-40 minutes, depending on group size
  • Age: recommended for grades 6+

How to do it


  • Start by telling youth that you’re going to talk about time management.  Ask the group what they think time management means.
  • Ask youth a series of questions to help them connect with each other.  If meeting in person ask them stand up move to a specific area of the room each time they answer "yes."  If meeting virtually, you can have youth raise their hand, use the chat function, or use a Zoom reaction or whiteboard to respond.
    • Have you ever waited until the night before a project or paper was due at school before starting it?
    • Have you ever been late to something because you weren’t ready to leave?
    • Do you snooze your alarm clock at least once a week?
    • Have you ever finished a fair project the night before it was supposed to be judged?
    • Have you ever watched TV or played a video game before finishing your chores or homework?
  • Return to the larger group and allow everyone to get settled.  Ask youth to talk about two questions
    • Why do you sometimes do fun things before doing things you need to do?
    • How do you feel when you are running late or don’t have enough time to finish something?


  • Introduce the first activity.  Today we are going to do an activity that will help us manage our time better by helping us think about what we do each day and how we spend our time. For the first step, you will each make a list of everything you do on an average school day.  Next to each item you write down how long you spend doing that thing.  Don’t forget important things like meals, sleeping, or showering.
  • Allow youth 5-10 minutes to complete their list of tasks.
  • Next, we’re going to use our list for two different things.  First, we’re going to group similar tasks together to see how much time we spend on different types of activities.  Look through your list and make groups of activities.  You can make as many groups as you want.  Examples might include a group for school and homework, a group for chores, or a group for free time.
  • Once youth have grouped their lists, introduce the blank pie chart.  If meeting virtually, youth can make their own pie chart by drawing a circle on a blank piece of paper.  We’re going to use the pie chart to represent each of the different groups and how much of your day you spend on them.  For example, if you spend 12 hours sleeping, you would fill in ½ of the chart for sleep.  If you spend 6 hours at school, you would fill in ¼ of the chart for school.
  • Give youth 5 minutes to color in their pie chart.  Help with adding up time or figuring out fractions as needed.


  • In large or small groups, ask youth to share about their pie chart.
    • Are you surprised by the size of any part of your pie chart?
    • Which slices of the pie chart are most important to you?  Does it seem like those slices are the right size based on how important they are to you?
    • Which activities in your day have to be done for you to feel your best?


  • Ask youth to identify when they have the most energy or are in the best mood: in the morning, afternoon or evening.
  • More difficult tasks, or things we don’t enjoy doing, can often be easier to get done when we have the most energy.  Looking back at their lists, which items could they do during their peak-energy time? 
  • Give youth five minutes to time block an average day by listing out when they will do each task. A standard to-do list tells you what you need to do, time blocking tells you when you’re going to do it.  Remind them to think about what time of day works best for studying or exercise, for example.
  • Encourage youth not to plan all their time. There will always be unexpected things to do or unplanned interruptions. If you plan 75-80% of your available time, there will be extra time to complete tasks you didn’t expect, or those that take longer than you expect. You can build in buffers or mini-breaks between tasks.


  • Invite youth to share their schedule and answer these question in small groups or the large group: 
    • What things on your schedule do you look forward to the most?
    • How much time do you spend doing self-care (activities that make you feel good)?
    • Who can support you in managing your time well?
    • What’s one change you are going to try for better time management?

Take it further

  • Encourage youth to post their schedule on the refrigerator to serve as a reminder of their goals and help hold themselves accountable.
  • Watch this fun YouTube clip about strategies to defeat procrastination.
  • Have youth track how they actually spend their time. Compare that to their schedule, analyze what worked and what didn’t, and adjust accordingly.
  • Watch the TEDTalk How to Gain Control of Your Free Time by Laura Vanderkam who studies how busy people spend their lives. She's discovered that many of us drastically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. She offers practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us.

Authors: Sarah Odendahl, Extension educator and Mariah Frank, 4-H state ambassador

Reviewers: Courtney Johnson, Extension educator;  Kathryn Sharpe, Extension educator; Kate Walker, Extension specialist


Reviewed in 2023

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