A How-To: Get, and Keep, It Together
The 7:00 AM bustle to get out the door, warm my car up, decide on what CD I want to put in for the three minute drive, and get to school is a routine that although is imprinted into my biological schedule, is still dreaded each time I hear my alarm go off. As a junior in high school, I know that there are much bigger problems in the world than my AP Psychology paper that I put off writing until twenty minutes before it’s due, but it can be hard to see an outside perspective when I spend more time at school, in class or at extra curricular meetings, than I do at home. Being in the honors path at my school, and having cabinet roles in three of the eleven clubs I participate in, I often find myself so stretched out that I have worn out my elasticity to contract back to a condensed schedule. With that being said, I have managed to teach myself some tricks to only have mental breakdowns about twice a month (unless it’s the month of exams - there’s no control in that type of territory). I’ve learned that if I restrict myself to all work and no play, I find myself overwhelmed; and to parallel, if I throw all work aside and only regard pleasure, I find myself stuck in a twelve foot deep hole, covered in mud, despair and textbooks. Granted, I am most definitely not an expert on how to stay organized and on how to keep up with work and how to efficiently manage time and - well, basically, I’m not an expert on life as a whole. But what I am an expert on is the power of listening to your own advice. So go on, read what I share with you now, take it into consideration, and then build your own advice off of it. You know yourself better than anyone else.
Make a to do list, and actually refer to the to do list.
A classic item on a back to school list is a planner, one that has enough room to list all of your assignments and then some. I’ve become so accustomed to jotting down every task, from math problems to doctor appointments, that the chances of me forgetting something not written down are high. I told myself that I would never become that person who always has their life planned out, and I haven’t - even though the planner idolatry may say otherwise. Having a track of what you need to get done, along with what you want to get done, allows you to have a sense of organization while having fun. It’s such a satisfying feeling to cross out each necessary assignment as I storm through the list, and an even greater one when the remainders on the list include going to the mall and finishing season three of Grey’s Anatomy.
We can sometimes find ourselves lacking great motivation to get up and start doing when all we’ve seemed to have done all day is do. A light at the end of the tunnel can be that extra push to get us up and going, and that light might as well be a bowl of ice cream. In elementary school, we are raised with incentives of stickers on charts, which added up to prizes of colorful pencils or small toys. As we get older. we have to become our own worker, as well as our own provider. Setting a goal of achieving WXY to reward ourselves with Z keeps us with our heads looking forward. Although the accomplishment of finishing up a difficult task is a relief in itself, additional motivators along the journey never hurt.
Never feel guilty about lying in bed and watching Netflix.
This one is important, like, really important. Whether you find yourself binging a show after working all day, or waking up and using it as an excuse to not get out of bed just yet, allowing yourself to indulge in a plot other than your own is essential. Media, like TV shows, books or music, stands as an outlet away from your real life problems. Sometimes all we need is a temporary escape from projects and the outside world to feel secure. Detox diets have a similar effect, as they eliminate negative waste for a temporary period. So go ahead, go make popcorn and binge watch Friends for the seventh time.
Don’t allow your work to take over your passion.
An ongoing cycle of work, sleep, and repeat can feel restrictive and monotonous, and without buying time for your heart, you slowly kill your dreams. Coming home to work on a personal project is sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day. Without that light waiting for me at home, each day can turn into extra luggage dragged behind. When you find yourself being overwhelmed with assignments but are trying your best to refrain from crawling into bed, turn to your passion. Write a blog post. Work on coding for your website. Paint a still of what’s outside of your bedroom. Wherever your heart reaches, grab on.
Make a promise to yourself that you will spend time outside, alone or with friends, at least once a week.
Our schedules can feel so packed with assignments and necessary tasks that we find ourselves only making time for what needs to be done, and not for what we want to be done. If you work in and determine one day that you will get out of your cluttered desk space, and build the rest of your week around that one day, your time of freedom will be inevitable. It can be hard to try to work in free time into a busy routine, but once getting into habit, it naturally finds its way into the flow. I’ve found that a weekly drive down to my local beach and just going for a walk to clear my head has truly aided in establishing a calmness in my hectic life. Even when I’ve felt like I’ve been hit by a truck, getting outside and being able to establish a purity never fails to be rewarding.
Finally, never be afraid of fear.
This may sound corny, or maybe even a bit confusing, but allowing fear to take over a life of potential and drive can only allow for downfall. The biggest reason we turn ourselves away from opportunities is the fear of this and the fear of that. Every chance in life offers a handful of outcomes, some of which can be intimidating. It is right and just for us, as simply human beings, to be fearful of failure or fearful of misfortune, but we cannot allow that to control our actions. We cannot be afraid of being afraid, for that would only lead to mistrust in ourselves. Take the fear you have, the lack of certainty, and the second guessing, and hold it in second place. Put your intuition and passion in the front seat, and let go. Being anxious of the unknown keeps us on our toes, but allowing it to take over pulls us to our knees.
Taking on the world, whether you’re a high school honors student or a mother of three, is no easy task. Staring at a calendar jammed with scribbles and deadlines can feel like a perpetual sentence of exhaustion, but by keeping yourself in mind, you can feed your schedule and your heart. You have the courage to take on today, and tomorrow, and the next. You have the strength to achieve every task, and you have the plasticity to add content to build a roaring heart. Never underestimate the potential of your day, but most importantly, never underestimate the potential of your drive.