Ah, high school! These four years can be truly exhilarating — and, not to mention, exhausting. Between all of the homework, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work, it’s surprising that you can find any time just to relax or sleep.
Finding a healthy balance is often the key to success. In fact, a recent study shows that students who sacrifice sleep for additional study time are more likely to have difficulty understanding new material or trouble with testing. Surprised? Maybe those all-night study sessions aren't really worth the sleep deprivation. (Besides, it doesn't really count if you start to doze off in class.) So, how does a busy high school student like yourself find time to fit everything in and still get a good night’s rest? It starts with learning good time-management skills. Here are five things you can do now to help control your schedule and create balance in your life.
1. Start a To-Do List
Start each day with a list of what you need to accomplish, starting with the most important tasks first. Review the list over breakfast (a great way to boost your energy level and kick-start your brain), and be sure to gather any items you may need (projects, uniforms, forms, etc.). If you don’t complete every item on your list, don’t get upset. Simply add it to the next day’s to-do list.
2. Know Your Limits
If you find your to-do list is getting too long, it may be that you have over-extended yourself. It can be easy to get involved in more activities than you can handle, especially if your friends are pushing you to join them. Remember, it’s okay to say "no." Knowing your limits and sticking to them will go a long way in keeping your to-do list a manageable size and keeping your stress levels to a minimum.
3. Bring Work Along
If you have an upcoming test or assignment due, bring along your work wherever you go. You can use free time at lunch to study (have a friend quiz you) or start reading your science book while waiting for the bus. Instead of reaching for your phone to check Facebook and Twitter, use your time more wisely and catch up on homework. Just a few minutes here and there will quickly add up and give you more time for other things, like sleeping!
4. Schedule Everything
Carrying a pocket planner or using a calendar app on your phone should help you stay organized and on schedule. Be sure to include any tests, assignments, rehearsals/practices, work shifts, and volunteer hours in your planner. This will help you avoid conflicts in your schedule and give you a clearer picture of when you will have time to study. It may help to post a calendar in the kitchen for your family, so they can see where you’ll be and when. This way, mom and dad won’t accidentally schedule a trip to grandma’s the night of your big game or the weekend you are working on a big project.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
We know you hear this all the time, but we can't stress it enough! Don’t make a habit of putting off what you can do today for tomorrow. If you do, you’ll soon find your schedule is in disarray and you’ve run out of time to complete everything. By spreading out your work into manageable segments over several days, and sticking to that schedule, you will find yourself more relaxed and organized.
Finding a healthy balance between school, work, and a social life can be challenging, but it will only get more complicated in college. By implementing these time-management strategies now, you’ll be ahead of the game. Not only will these skills translate to college, but to your future career, as well. The choice is yours: time-management guru or procrastinator. Which will you choose?