The surprising thing many students don’t do — but should

Posted on July 17 2019

Quick: What are you doing this Thursday at 6 p.m.?

How you respond to that question can be a bit of a generational Rorschach Test. That’s because, if you’re an adult, the first thing you’ll do when asked a question like that is pull out your phone or open up your laptop to check your digital calendar. But if you’re a teenager, chances are that you won’t do that. Even though today’s teens and younger adults are “digital natives” who have virtually endless digital organizing options, they are far less likely to use calendars to organize their lives. 

Why? In part it is because (contrary to what their parents and teachers often think) teenagers and young adults actually have pretty good memories. Also, many teens have schedules that change little from week-to-week. On Monday at 10 a.m. you’re always in biology class. On Wednesday at 3 p.m. you’re always at soccer practice. On Friday at 7 p.m. you’re always at work.

Even when schedules are more complicated and in greater flux, some teens and young adults are rightfully proud of their ability to keep track of it all without relying on a calendar. It’s a pretty awesome indicator of a really bright mind, after all.

If you can do that, and keep it all straight, why wouldn’t you? Why let one more digital app control your life?

Practice. That’s why. 

Most people eventually need a calendar to keep their lives in order — ensuring they don’t forget important tasks, are always on-time for work appointments, and don’t accidentally leave Fido at “doggy day-care” overnight. (Because that’s expensive!)

But using a calendar effectively is a little bit like playing music. There are lots of different instruments, each one can be used in different ways, and getting good at it takes practice. When teens opt not to use a calendar app, they’re missing out on vital practice for using one of the tools they’ll most likely rely upon for the rest of their lives.

Using a digital organizing app doesn’t mean giving up on the awesomeness of being able to keep it all straight in your head. You can still do that. But once you start keeping a calendar, you might find that it relieves a lot of worry. You probably won’t forget, but just in case you do, it’s there to help.