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I would like to get my kids to learn some productivity techniques so that their future lives can be as productive as possible. I am going to start with two of the most basic ones, but it is difficult to explain the benefits of them to my kids. The two techniques that I am starting with are:

  1. When faced with a decision, step back and take a moment to take in as much information as you can before making a decision. In other words, don't make a knee-jerk decision.
  2. Make a note of anything that you need to refer to in the future.

Although these techniques are not groundbreaking, I believe that they form the basis for other high leveraging productivity techniques such as GTD. I don't want to initially overload them with too many techniques so I am starting with two.

One of my two kids is coming up to 6 years old, which I believe is old enough to start to grasp some of the concepts I am trying to teach him. My other son is coming up to 3 years. I think that this is too young, so I am mostly concentrating on my 6 year old.

My question is: Should I should persist with these two techniques?

Should I teach them different techniques instead? Why?

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What age are your kids? That makes a huge difference. – Brian Carlton Jun 25 '11 at 20:19
@Brain, thanks for the pickup on the missing crucial. Updated the question to add their ages of 6yr and 3 yr. – tehnyit Jun 25 '11 at 20:27
This is not an actual answer but more of a way of thinking about your problem (in line with Tom's answer to make it practical, example-based):… – Dmitry Selitskiy Jun 25 '11 at 23:01
I like the thought. As @Mihai said, the parents are the example. In Greece they say "The beginning is half of every action". – hellectronic Dec 15 '11 at 15:07
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Kids look up to their parents. Once they grow up and they face a situation that they never encountered before, their first instinct will be to do whatever they saw their parents do. Think about exposing them to some of the decisions you make on a daily basis. Even the smallest of things such as: choosing the metro over a bus and it will eventually influence them. They are too small to understand why, but they will have the feeling that it's the right thing to do.

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that was my initial plan of attack. The other part is repetition. This is pretty much aligned with your ideas. – tehnyit Jun 26 '11 at 20:01

One technique which has helped both my six and nine-year old is to break down large tasks into manageable pieces, and keep track of them. The little one likes to make a list of his chores, and check them off one my one. With the older one, we put due-dates for projects on our calendar and plan parts to do for each day.

This skill has an immediate benefit by reducing stress and not feeling overwhelmed by big jobs, which makes for good positive feedback. It's also pretty important for us grown-ups.

Keep it up!

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+1 - some pretty advance techniques! – tehnyit Feb 15 '12 at 23:16

But it is difficult to explain the benefits of it to my kids.

There is a lack of interest at their age, so if you come up explaining them theory they won't actively listen.

You should be aiming for practical experience, for example, let's take your examples:

  1. When a kid is trying to make a decision, you can ask him "Are you sure that you want to do that?" alongside "Don't you want to do this instead?" to get him to think about it and make a decision.

    Some kids refuse to listen and just go for it, but those kids will soon enough end up making bad first decisions which is where you step in and say "Why did you decide to do that?" or "Think before you do, then this wouldn't have happened." so you get them to make better decisions the next time.

  2. Get your kids a box of colors and a piece of paper when you feel it's the right moment to, when they later see their drawing hang at the refrigerator (or wherever they wanted to hang it) they will know it's their own work and they can show it to visitors (grandpa). This indirectly helps "saving things for later".

    The next step at a slightly older age is to get them to write down what they have to do for school. Also make use of special occasions where you ask what they want for their birthday or for Santa Claus on Christmas. I remember we had to put our letters in the Christmas Tree, as for Sinterklaas we had to put things in a shoe.

    Those are early things you can do to prepare them for note taking, school picks up on this later.

Should I teach them different techniques?

With my above suggestions, you can see that you can easily add more techniques. So don't be too limited. Just remember to avoid the theoretical side and make them experience it, don't take too big steps though...

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I don't think I will try to explain the theory. Instead, I shall try to explain it to them using role play and other similar methods. Thanks for your input. – tehnyit Jun 26 '11 at 20:04

Give them a physical inbox. In that inbox you write notes that represent work for them. Tell them that when their box is empty, they can do whatever they want.

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Teaching personal productivity to a six year old is crazy and I don't see how you would do your son a favour with this. A six year old is not supposed to produce anything in the sense of PP. A sixteen year old, maybe.

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Let me give you a simple example, if you don't teach your six year old child the value for being tidy and packing up after playing, would your day be as productive if they do tidy and pack up after play? From my perspective, most good habits are also productivity boosters, so I don't see this as a crazy idea! – tehnyit Aug 28 '11 at 14:54

Connect the chore list to pocket money. Then they get very focused on the list and marking things as done.

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I'm not having to deal with this yet, but I'm leary of connecting chores to money. There are things that must be done because one is a valueable, participating, cooperative member of the family. When the kids start making money flipping burgers, can they opt out of chores because they don't need the money? – eflat Feb 23 '12 at 1:33

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