Submitted by Hana Miller, VP of Membership
What is the key to happiness? Some say wealth, others say fame; there are many right answers to this question. While there are many right answers to this question, like love and peace, I want to address one of those many potential responses that really hits home for busy high schoolers: having a balanced schedule. At first, having a balanced schedule may not seem like the incredible boon I know it is, but there are many reasons why the most successful people in high school, and in life in general, have a balanced schedule.
Having a balanced schedule allows everything one finds of value to have a place in their life. While it can be hard to balance your schedule to involve everything you want it to, having a planned agenda makes doing this task much easier. If you’re sporadic in what you do with your time, you can also expect that the things you want to excel in will also have sporadic results. Balancing your time between different things you value and not giving one activity all the attention is key to having an overall well-balanced day to day routine. Important projects may pop up and shake things a bit, but if you allow that chaos to rule your life, I guarantee your days won’t feel as happy or productive. Keeping a healthy balance between activities, family, social life, and personal care is very important and could determine the outcome of your projects.
Not only is having a balanced schedule a key aspect of success, but it also brings a healthy balance and routine in life. Without a plan of action, it can be difficult to stay on track. For example, my recent schedule comes to mind. I have been very busy lately, and I haven’t had a lot of time for personal care, social life, family, or even my physical needs. My schedule has become unbalanced, and as a result, my life feels a little like it’s starting to fall off the rails. I stay up late finishing assignments and I’m constantly working on something. Because of this, other aspects of my life have suffered. I haven’t spent much time with family and friends lately and I’m not sure when the last time I went to bed earlier than one o’clock in the morning was in the last month.
If this problem continues and if it went unrecognized, things would continue to deteriorate. As a structural society that thrives on order, there is a certain amount of order that helps us thrive. At least, this is the case for many. Without this order, we strain ourselves to satisfy all our needs, and we become unhappy overall and stressed out. Because I can acknowledge this problem, I can begin to fix it and work towards a more balanced schedule to decrease my stress and allow myself to pursue everything I value pursuing in my day-to-day life. Here’s the kicker: even someone as experienced in chaotic schedules, such as a state FCCLA officer like myself, can still struggle with finding a balance in their schedule. This begs the question, how does one balance their schedule? While there is no one way to find a way to balance everything always, as special activities tend to pop up, there are different ways to begin to sort through the chaos.
In my experience, there are three amazing ways to start balancing your schedule. The first technique I often use to achieve this is by written or typed lists. Trying to tackle all your assignments is a lot easier when you have a list of everything that needs to be accomplished. It can be overwhelming trying to get things done and thinking of everything on your agenda all at once. It’s much easier to tackle things one at a time from a list. This way, you can track what needs done, has been done, and how much you still have left to do. This leads me into the second tactic I often utilize to keep my schedule under control is prioritizing my time. I am always asking myself what needs to be done first, last, and what can be put on the to-do list rather than being completed right now. This way, you don’t overwhelm yourself with the massive number of objectives but still get done what needs to be done in a timely manner. Not only do you need to prioritize when you’re going to do things, but you also need to prioritize what you’re going to do.
One person can’t do everything, and unfortunately, we must pick and choose carefully what we can realistically accomplish in time. Picking what matters to you most and getting rid of things, projects, or activities that don’t matter as much to you and aren’t required is a good way to narrow down your list of priorities and help balance your schedule. The last thing I always make sure to do is remember that breaks are important. While getting things done is important, so are you. You can’t do that PowerPoint if you’re so burnt out that you’re drooping over your computer, half asleep. It’s important to remember that you are human, and if you don’t take care of yourself, no one will. You must remember that you are just as, and more important than whatever assignment or project is due next. Nothing will get done if you don’t pace yourself and give yourself ample time to refresh your mind. Remembering and doing these three things have helped me balance my schedule countless times, and I hope they help you too!
Before you go off rushing to incorporate these new steps into your life, I need to emphasize one thing-balancing your schedule isn’t like a math problem. It isn’t a one and done thing and requires continued efforts. If you do these things one time, and never again, your schedule will go back to being as unorganized as it was before. Also remember that this is perfectly fine. It would be unrealistic to expect perfection and complete balance in your life, and I promise you, things will start to slip again. It’s okay though. It happens to the best of us. If you get back up and try again, it’s okay that your life is seemingly “imperfect.” I often experience periods where I feel extremely productive and my schedule is perfectly balanced, just for it to crumble when I forget to take care of myself too, or when the next wave of projects is due. It’s okay to not have the perfect balance. The point of attempting to have a balanced schedule is for you to be happier and less stressed out in your day-to-day life. If you don’t feel buried and you can safely manage your time, it’s fine to not be perfect. This goal is for you, and you alone define what works for you and what doesn’t. Go live your life with a newfound way of navigating the craziness that is life and remember to do what makes you happy without burdening yourself to the point that the happiness you once felt is now nonexistent. With that, I wish you good luck, my friend!