School & not having enough time
No one thinks they have enough time-- especially not students.
But you do. That’s what I’m here to tell you today. I’m here to tell you that you can have it all: you can have good grades, do sports, eat healthy, get enough sleep, do fun things, have free time, and not feel overwhelmed.
This used to be a foreign concept to me. I thought you either were a good student or had a lot of free time. You can’t have both.
And then I realized I was a perfectionist. I realized that I was overdoing the school work and not taking enough time for my mental and physical health.
You may not be able to control all of your commitments and circumstances, but you can control your reaction to them.
Welcome to the beautiful concept of having enough time.
When you make time for the things you want to do, your life changes. Doors open when you realize that being stuck in the “busy” mindset is just a hole you can easily crawl out of.
This year is going to be the year that you have enough time.
It’s gonna be a good year.
My Top 10 Back-To-School Tips
1. Keep up good summer habits.
Summer is often the time when people sleep enough, get outside, are active, spend time with friends, are generally stress-free, and make time for the things they enjoy.
It’s a lot harder to do those things during the school year, but you can do them if you make time. And yes, you can also get good grades while taking care of yourself.
While I definitely have some words to say about the time that school takes up in people’s lives and the stress it puts people under, I definitely think that if you have your priorities straight and make a conscious effort to find balance, you will be able to get enough sleep, get good grades, have fun with friends, do things you enjoy, be active and go outside, and not be super stressed.
I know that sounds like a far-off dream that could never come true, but after my experience with finals at my old college-preparatory school while still having volleyball and running my blog, I learned that there’s a balance to be found and not to play a victim to the things I have to do for school. I no longer accept the, “I don’t have time” excuse.
After all, it’s my time, and I can choose to manage it well or I can choose to manage it poorly.
2. Get your sleep schedule ready.
Getting enough sleep makes everything better.
Similarly, not getting enough sleep makes everything worse.
While it’s often the first thing to go when you’re busy, sleep helps you to be more productive and makes things more enjoyable because you have more energy and focus.
When school comes around, a lot of people think they “can’t go to bed early,” and they subject themselves to nine months of sleep deprivation and trudging through the day.
That’s not what I want for you. I want you to have plenty of energy and get enough high-quality, restorative sleep every single night. I want you to keep your body happy by giving it the rest it needs.
If you think you don’t have time to sleep, I think you’re wrong. Your health is more important than your grades and sports (to a certain extent-- there’s a balance to be found). I feel like I have found a balance where I can generally get my homework done before getting to bed, and then get 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
And yes, sometimes I go to bed before my homework is finished. Sometimes I do the bare minimum just to get it done. But I still get good grades and have found more balance in my school life.
3. Know your routines.
Having a solid morning and nighttime routine will make all the difference for your school life.
Not only will it give you time to unwind or get ready for the day, it also allows you to have “me time” where you are reminding yourself that yes, life can feel busy, but I still make time for myself.
I want to have plenty of time to exercise and pray and eat and listen to music or a podcast in the morning. Similarly, I want to unwind and make my to-do list at the end of the day. Your routines will help you to reduce stress and remind you that you have time, whether or not you actually feel like you do.
Create your own morning and nighttime routine that will be helpful and effective for you. Make it something that you’re excited about and that will be beneficial.
I have a post on morning routines and one on nighttime routines if you want to visit this topic more in-depth.
4. Have plans to slow down.
I want you to make a conscious effort to say no to stress and say yes to slowing down and enjoying life. Don’t rush your way through your school years. They’re FABULOUS years that you won’t have forever. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy them.
Make plans for yourself. Go on a bike ride after school. You have time. You will make time.
Do you ever wonder how people “get it all done?” It’s a mindset. They’re not being perfectionists. They’re making time to do the things they want to do, even when it’s inconvenient. Self-care is never convenient, but you can do it.
Slow down with your morning and nighttime routines, with a ten minute walk after dinner, by making the time to call a friend.
Make the time.
If you need to plan it out, plan it out. It’s a commitment, and it matters that you are planning and making sure that you keep that promise to yourself.
5. Be prepared with meals and snacks.
When life gets busy, food can be on-the-go. However, if you are similar to me and are sensitive to many foods, you have to watch what you eat. My skin is sensitive to multiple foods. Even for people who don’t notice relatively fast reactions to foods, healthy eating is important for general maintenance. Keep your body healthy, even though unhealthy foods are more convenient.
Get your food options ready in advance. Do some food prep on the weekend and have quick, healthy snack options at the ready.
I have a blog post on how to eat healthy during the school year, which you can check out if you want to go deeper into this topic.
6. Step out of your comfort zone.
This is kind of just a general one, but for people like me, school is a sea of “outside my comfort zone,” and it takes courage to step into it.
I’m going to a new school this year, and it takes a tremendous amount of stepping outside my comfort zone. Talking to people I don’t know well doesn’t come easily to me, so it’s taking a lot of stepping outside my comfort zone.
Whether you’re going to a new school or the same school you’ve been going to for the past five years, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of the opportunities that your school presents. Go out for soccer for the first year ever. Talk to people you don’t know yet. Ask a teacher for help.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is where a lot of progress is made.
7. Do extracurriculars.
Whether or not you already know lots of people at your school, doing extracurriculars is a great way to spend time with people and expand your skill set in whatever the extracurricular is.
While you might think that extracurriculars are just another way to spend more of your precious time, I think it’s an investment in the friends you will make and the skills you will learn and the experiences you will have.
You control what you do with your time. You can find balance with extracurriculars, sleep, free time, and academics all stacked on top of one another.
I’m not saying you have to do every extracurricular you could possibly do, but I’d encourage you to try one or two this year, and if you’ve already been doing the same one(s) for the past few years, try something new this year that interests you.
8. Make to-do lists and use a planner.
To-do lists will help you stay organized, get things done, and feel more in control with your time. Using a planner will also help you to manage your time effectively.
If you have a lot going on, make sure that you have some way of keeping track of what you need to do and when you need to do it. It will help you decrease feelings of overwhelm and stay more organized with your time.
When I talk about “making time,” it helps to know what you need to do to make that time. Keeping track of your daily commitments will help you to find the time to do things you want to do.
I have a separate to-do list journal and a planner because it helps me stay more organized. I write down smaller things in the to-do list journal and bigger events and appointments in the planner. I’m writing this in the summer, so during the school year the planner will shift to being more of a school assignment notebook and the to-do list will be things I am doing outside of school.
9. Have a healthy mindset about it.
The more you think, “I’m so busy and this is awful and I don’t have time for anything,” the more overwhelmed you will feel.
Make sure that you are watching the thoughts you allow to run through your head. If you have a healthy mindset surrounding the things you are doing, you will enjoy it more.
I enjoy having a full schedule because I look for the goodness and opportunities in the things I have to do. Instead of resisting the busyness, embrace it and make the most of it.
This also goes back to not being a victim to your circumstances. You can take two people whose schedules are equally busy, but the one with a better mindset and who makes better use of their time could be thriving, while the other feels like they’re just getting through the day.
Mindset makes a HUGE difference.
10. Plan for balance.
Plan out your alone time like it’s a dentist appointment. Remember, this is your time with yourself. This is your recharge time. This is your time to destress from everything around you.
Even if you have homework, your “me time'' is important. By taking time to destress, you are telling yourself that your mental and physical and emotional health are important.
I know it can feel like you’re just “planning for the future” by trying to make your life better later on by grinding it out now, but there’s a balance to be found. Perfect grades aren’t everything. Enjoy this time of your life while also putting effort into your school work and trying to get good grades.
It’s taken me years to find the right balance in my life, but I’ve lived the other way and I don’t want to go back. I’ve let perfectionism reign in my life and tried to be perfect in school and let school come before me. (To be honest, I wrote this in summer and now this first week of school at the time of publishing, I’m still adjusting and having some time struggles.).
It was overwhelming and didn’t help me. A wake-up call from a teacher helped me to realize that I can get good grades and put effort in without overdoing it. I can get enough sleep and do well in school and spend hours every week doing sports.
Find balance, and accept that it will take some experimentation (I’m definitely going through an experimentation period right now).
The name of the game here is you have time. You have time for healthy eating and sleeping and hanging out with friends and sports and school and good grades and self care and routines and just hanging out and taking some “me time.”
When I hear someone say that they don’t have time, one word comes to my mind: excuse-- I even catch myself using this excuse. Time is an excuse, but it’s not a legitimate one. We all have the same 24 hours, but what we do with those 24 hours changes our results.
During finals, I was busy with volleyball and an academically rigorous school, but I enjoyed my busy schedule because I didn’t let it suck the fun out of life. I also managed to eat healthy foods and get plenty of sleep. Be determined not to let your commitments become burdens and to enjoy this school year.
Slow down and enjoy the wonderfulness of these school years. Don’t be a victim to the amount of time you do or don’t have. You have time. You have talents. Use those gifts well.