Roslynn Baker photo
by Roslynn Baker 

A few months into the New Year and many of our resolutions have already met their demise. We have comfortably settled back into our old habits and routines. There seems to be no free time that can be devoted to using our new gym membership, cracking open that new budgeting how-to book or registering for classes to finally earn that diploma, pass the GED exam or finish that degree. For many, making time to go back to school can be a daunting, but necessary task. More education often equals a promotion, more occupational options and higher pay. As educators and service providers, there are many ways we can help support the people we serve as they tackle this task head on.  


One enormously helpful activity that we can facilitate with our students is a time audit. In conducting a time audit, we are simply tracking how we spend our time during a typical day or week. Have your students ask themselves: How much time do I spend on my commute to work, class, etc.? How much time goes into meal preparation throughout the week? What is my work and/or class schedule? How much time does it take me to complete take home assignments?” I would suggest using hours as the base unit of measurement. Once students have completed their audit, they can easily see where they spend the majority of their time and where they might have time to spare to put towards their school work and other goals.  

Another activity that can be done in conjunction with the time audit is task prioritization. At Episcopal Community Services, time management is one of the core workshops facilitated in our workforce development programs. We utilize the Eisenhower Matrix to assist our participants with organizing the different aspects of their lives based on level of urgency and importance. After filling in the chart, students can then compare their time audit results to their priority matrix by asking themselves the following: Do the tasks that take up the most time align with those you categorized as urgent or important? How can you adjust your current schedule to make more time for the tasks and goals categorized as urgent and/or important?  


Though time management skills are important, as facilitators and educators it might be difficult to include this lesson into an already packed schedule. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate time management skills into an adult education curriculum:  

1) The time audit provides students with a personalized data set. Have students organize their data by creating a pie graph or bar graph. Students can also create fractions and calculate percentages using their time audit data.  

2) Students can also write a short summary (2 – 3 sentences) of what they discovered through the audit and the prioritization exercises. Highlight a couple of key vocabulary words that relate to time management and have students incorporate those words into their summaries.  

3) Finally, have students write practice test questions based on their graphs and summaries. They can exchange their questions among each other and practice analyzing and reading each other’s graphs and summaries.  

These activities are just the tip of the iceberg. Please share any questions or your approaches to incorporating time management skills and practices into an adult literacy curriculum in the comments below. 

Roslynn Baker works in the Workforce Development Department at Episcopal Community Services (ECS). At the College and Career Readiness Specialist, she facilitates job readiness workshops, supports participants with expressed education/training goals and manages education and training program partnerships for ECS. She has been a member of the Adult Literacy Alliance of one year and currently, sits on the Alliances Programming Committee. She can be reached at roslynnb@ecsphilly.org.