Are we there yet?

Time management skills are expected. Juggling a million different things, effectively, quickly, and smiling all the way through. It looks so easy, but it really isn’t.

My school year started last Wednesday, and after I had gone through all of my classes once, it hit me. I had gotten home and had all but collapsed at my desk, and suddenly, I really understood how overwhelmingly busy this year is going to be. I mean, sure, isn’t every year? But I hadn’t thought of it before. When I had thought of this year’s classes and other obligations, it seemed so easy; a breeze! The three AICE/AP classes I’m taking, plus all the honors classes besides, as always. The extra online dual enrollment class. For all of those classes, there is homework assignments, projects, and tests; all of which I need to study for. At the very least; I need to review what I learned in all my classes every day to avoid forgetting and falling behind. Filing articles for debate, prepping, and hopefully; winning. Competing nearly every other weekend, and prepping extensively before every competition; an average of seven speeches per competition, if not more. Plus, I need to practice all of those speeches to the point of perfection, because, again, I’d really like to win. Oh, and I’d like to be up to date with the news every day in order to make prepping easier, and I want to do speaking drills every day as well.

I’m going to be fulfilling all of my responsibilities as class secretary. I need to keep up with my blog. I’d like to write a post once a week, and separate from that, there’s making time for actual creative writing. I still have my goal of finishing a novel this school year, no matter the quality, even if it’s just for practice; a full length novel. Moreover, I want to actively work towards improving my writing. On top of all that, I also want to volunteer on a semi-regular basis. I love to read, and I like Netflix, but who needs that, right? I’d also like, to, you know, have a life? If I can squeeze it in. Spending time with family and hanging out with friends is always nice. Oh, and I’d like to have a sufficient amount of sleep every day. It really is a lot, and most of the time, it hardly feels like it. I just trudge through every assignment, and competition, and obligation, without realizing what a zombie I’ve let it all make me. Which isn’t a good thing, I know.

“I just trudge through every assignment, and competition, and obligation, without realizing what a zombie I’ve let it all make me.”

Now, I might not know exactly what time management is, but I have learned what it is not!

Time management is N O T…

~~~1.) A f a n c y p l a n n e r ~~~

Pretty, fancy planners are all well and good, but they don’t work. They trick you, with their cute covers and organized layouts. When you see it on the shelf in that office supplies store, it practically whispers in your ear; “I will make you organized!” I’ve had more beautiful planners than I can count, but it doesn’t do any good if it’s empty. Just because it’s pretty, that doesn’t mean you’re actually going to use it.

~~~2.) T o – D o L i s t s~~~

I, personally, love to-do lists. I believe they can be used as a great tool to remember what you have to do while rewarding yourself by checking it off when you’re done. However, if you make a to-do list with the vague idea that, ‘now you know what to do and you’ll do it’, your to-do list isn’t going to work. I’ve done that numerous times, I’ll write a nice little to-do list with neat check boxes, and I won’t spare it a second glance. To-do lists always seem to be the first thing anyone tells you about time management, but it’s useless if you don’t use it correctly.

~~~3.) N e t f l i x~~~

Really, this seems self-explanatory, but it took me a while to figure that out. Netflix is not time management. I mean ‘Netflix’ to represent anything you do to get out of doing what you actually have to do. For writers, sometimes that’s not actually writing and instead going down a research rabbit hole and telling yourself it’s ‘writing.’ It isn’t. Maybe you get distracted by your phone and scroll endlessly through Instagram when you told yourself you would be studying. This could apply to any number of things. You could watch YouTube, Netflix, read, hang out with friends, sing, watch a soap opera. Doing anything that’s not studying or work when you’re supposed to be, essentially. Who knew, right?

~~~4.) P r o c r a s t i n a t i n g~~~

Procrastinating until the 25th hour, not getting any sleep as a result of that, and, consequently; having to settle for a lesser grade or performance. I have no idea why, but this is sort of becomes a ‘competition’ in high school. Teenagers competing for who had to struggle more to complete an assignment. It’s hopelessly counterintuitive; I know. Especially at debate competitions, the talk often gets to; “I only got three hours of sleep last night, I stayed up prepping!” or, “I’m going to do my prep in round, I don’t have any speeches done!” Or at school, “That big project we had? I hadn’t even started till yesterday! I didn’t sleep, but it’s done.” Of course, it has to be taken into consideration that sometimes these people hadn’t been procrastinating at all, and they simply didn’t have the time in their busy schedules. Or maybe, they could have had the time, but they don’t have any time management skills. Or, they could have just been lazy. All of those different forms of, ultimately, not getting something done, happen all the time.

~~~5.) B e i n g u n b a l a n c e d~~~

Being unbalanced in order to stay on top of all of your responsibilities is the exact opposite of time management. I believe time management is the ability to complete all of your assignments/obligations in a timely manner, and to still have time for other things. It’s the highly difficult skill of doing everything you need to do, making time for yourself, and not feeling burnt out. Doing too much work to the point where you always feel like a zombie, and not doing anything for yourself, isn’t healthy, and while you’ll get the grades you want; you won’t be happy. Slacking off, not doing enough work and always procrastinating, isn’t healthy, and you’ll be stressed and feel dissatisfied as a result of your slipping grades. Balance and time management are one and the same. It’s the highly fragile act of balancing fine china tea cups on your head while juggling flaming baseballs. Time management is not for the faint of heart, and it is far from easy. It’s something you have to work towards every single day; not something that comes naturally.

I’ve told you all that time management is not, but it’s up to you to figure out what it means and how to achieve it. Only you can find what works best for you. It feels like I’m always wondering when I’m going to get there. When I can finally achieve the perfect bliss that comes with reaching the epitome of time management skills. Maybe, the answer is the same my frustrated parents would give when I would groan, “We we there yet?,” on the way to Disney World. Maybe, the answer is never. Maybe there is no perfect bliss that you’re going to reach, but rather, maybe it’s okay to make mistakes. To feel burnt out sometimes or miss one assignment, because you can’t be perfect. And once you realize you won’t reach perfection, maybe, just maybe, you’ll reach the time management skills that work for you.

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