I Can’t Fit One More Thing in my Schedule
Teens today are busy kids. It isn’t unusual to see a teen on a several sports teams, doing AP classes or college classes, handling some music or other extracurricular activities in the wings, having a social life and considering working a part-time job for some extra cash. What a juggling act and where do they begin to manage all of this? Here are some ideas.
Decide what needs to be done first. This is done best by getting organized. Use your calendar on your phone or you most convenient place with appropriate alerts to get your life in order. Put down everything. Prioritize when projects have to be done, when you have to work and when you have games or events. Focus on projects in order of time needed for the projects and due dates and focus on them in the order of the schedule. Write down everything you have to do during the day, week, and the month. Estimate how much time you will spend on each activity. Color code your activities if that will help you see your schedule easier. Decide if you can actually accomplish all you have in your schedule. Eliminate what needs to be eliminated. Keep up with your schedule as changes occur. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t forget to put your “down time” in the schedule for balance. Then BE WHERE YOU ARE – don’t worry about what you aren’t doing. Stay present in your now time.
Don’t be an Over-Achiever
Make a decision to enjoy your activities and be well-rounded. You don’t have to be the top of the class, or the captain of the football team. Choose one or two activities that you can enjoy while also getting your work done and having time to relax or visit with friends.
Set Realistic Goals
Set goals that you can reach within a week or two weeks. Setting small goals that are attainable is less stressful and realistic. If you want to be on the honor roll, shoot for A’s or B’s but know how to manage to let those extra 5 or 10 points go and still get the grade you need. Don’t be perfectionistic. Enjoy the process, not just the outcome. View mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. Respond positively to constructive feedback.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Pay attention to how you are feeling. Notice those feelings of being overwhelmed or depressed if you are having to do an extra assignment. If you see these kinds of feelings creeping up and staying with you for long periods of time, you might want to revamp your priorities and see if you can cut out a few things until you feel better. This can be especially hard if you have invested a lot of years in an activity that no longer brings you joy. But do consider whether you want to continue to pursue something that is no longer fun, as it may be time to drop the activity.
Take Care of Yourself
As always, eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. These things all help you feel better and help you manage your stress in a better way.
Schedule Time for You
Set aside a half an hour a day to do something that makes you feel good. Read a book, ride your bike, listen to music. This time you take for you will help you focus when you sit down to study or practice your instrument. Consider new ways of dealing with stress such as meditation or yoga. Spend time laughing and/or being with a friend or loved one.
Beware of Too Much Stress
Stress can be a motivator. But when the stress level becomes too intense and lasts too long, you may be in stress overload. Signs of stress overload include
- Anxiety or panic attack
- A feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled or hurried
- Irritability and moodiness
- Physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches or chest pain
- Allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
- Problems sleeping
- Sadness or depression
- Drinking too much, smoking, overeating or using drugs
Learning how to do this, balancing your life appropriately, as a teen is a skill that will lead you through life as you grow. Life will continue to be busy and over whelming and we have to learn how to listen to ourselves, figure out what is important to us, and make our priorities work along with balance. Balance is always about remembering that we matter and we have to take care of ourselves as we strive to do our work.
Tags: managing a busy schedule, Teen balance
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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