Getting back into the swing of school has me analyzing my schedule. As much as I’d love to volunteer for everything I can, my mental health is important to me. I’m currently taking four AP classes, one honors, and an independent study. I’m the treasurer of Model UN, co-chairing an event for Student Council, and a dancer in our fall musical. Outside of school, I work Friday and Saturday nights at a local Italian restaurant. To be quite honest, I don’t know how I’m still alive. Being involved in so much, I’d like to think I know a few things about managing and maximizing my time.
Planners are great. They help you make decisions about your involvement, and more importantly, give you rough estimates of how much sleep you’ll be getting. With all these great things in mind, its important to know that all planners are created equal, but some planners are more equal than others (did you get the Animal Farm reference?). Find yourself a planner that incorporates what you’ll be using it for. Personally, I needed one that had space for homework, after school activities, and big events. It also didn’t hurt if it looked cute! I struck luck at Target, with this darling one year planner by Daily Designs for only $12! For each day, it has an hourly schedule (perfect for after school activities), to-do list (homework helper!), and inspiring quote (for a little morale boost). The months are easily accessible with a tab, and have full 30 day calendars. The calendar is great for looking at my month ahead, and seeing any big events I have coming up. I was grateful to find something that catered to each of my needs. Having a place for everything keeps me organized, and eliminates the small decisions from my day, such that I can focus on the important stuff!
Planners allow you to look at each task and it’s due date on paper. I find that I stress out more when deadlines are pin-balling around in my brain, so seeing them written out is a huge relief. It also keeps me organized, knowing what is due when, and if I’ll have any free time to spend with friends or take naps. Planners give you your week at a glance, and help you to make decisions about how much more you can get involved in.
There is no such thing as a bad multi-tasker. Most people seem to think multitasking looks like writing your thesis while cooking a massive feast, when in reality, sometimes it’s just doing homework on the bus. Working on two things at once saves time, and mental stability. I like to group socialization in with my daily duties of homework and studying. For example, I know I’m going to be at theater rehearsal from 2:30 to 6:30 Monday through Wednesday, so I make sure that the breaks I’m given are spent wisely. Monday, all my close friends are there, so I use my time off to talk to them and fool around instead of working on homework. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I try to do the opposite. This helps me maximize my time and feel more well rounded, as I’m devoting time to school and relationships. Look for little breaks in your schedule where you’d normally just sit and mindlessly scroll through your phone, and begin to use them productively. Maybe you’ll draft that email, or finally ask your friend how they feel about Dwight and Angela on the office, but you’re accomplishing something, and you should be proud. It might be the 20 minute bus ride to your track meet, or your “five” at dance, but little productive moments throughout the day can really change how you live.
You’re definitely wondering how this relates to time management, and so am I. Typing this header I felt like I was being cute and clever, but now I’m not too sure how I’ll tie in my introduction to my actual point. All I can say is I’m being honest with you, and with myself right now (BOOYA THAT WAS REALLY SMART). Honesty is communicated in two ways: intrapersonally and interpersonally. Those are just fancy terms though, really I mean being honest with yourself and being honest with others. You have to be able to self reflect and think, “Do I have time to make pepperoni rolls the night before vacation?” (@ my mom). If the answer is no, it’s ok! Don’t expect yourself to be able to do everything. You aren’t a superhero, and no one expects you to be. Only take on what you truly believe you can handle.
This leads me to interpersonally honesty. It’s ok to tell others that you simply don’t have time for something. Recently, I was approached by the owner of a local haunted hayride and trail. I volunteered there last year, and had the time of my life. He wanted to know if I could help again this year. Rather than overbooking myself to near death, I took a hard look at my schedule and told him no. It was difficult, I’ll admit, because working there was so much fun, but I knew it just wasn’t possible. He wasn’t the least bit mad, demonstrating that the people who value you (and aren’t just using you), will know that your sanity comes before any favor they may need. I know I’ll definitely make time to stop by to say hi to everyone. Saying no will be difficult, but a lot easier than juggling too many things at once.
If you’ve learned anything here, it’s that you can’t just expect perfection out of yourself. Little things like planners, multitasking, and honesty help you to manage your time in the most efficient way possible. Even with these things in mind, you’ll still slip up and double book a hair appointment with a lunch date, and that’s ok because you’re only human. If there’s anyone out there who can manage their lives perfectly, please leave a comment! We (read: I) need your help!