Five Ways to Beat the Clock
1. Start at the Top
You can't do everything, right? But you can do the most important things. That's why you have to figure out what's really important, what's kind of important and what's not so important. Here's how: Make a list of ways you spend your time. Include homework, watching TV, sports, time with family and friends, IMing, Bible study, youth group and other things you do during a typical week.
Next, rank each item on the list with a number, from most important to least important. The next time you must decide between two activities, think about your priority list and choose the activity that's more important. Another important tip: If you play on two sports teams and are in three different clubs, take a hard look at all five activities and decide which of the five are most important. You may even have to cut out two or three activities. Yeah, it's tough, but concentrating on, say, one sport makes you a better, more-focused athlete than splitting your energy and your time between three. It will also help you avoid burnout.
By the way, this isn't about getting rid of all the fun stuff. An hour of TV after three hours of homework is probably not a bad thing. But notice what comes first: homework. Then TV becomes a nice little reward for all that hard work.
2. Get Organized
"I forgot!" "I'm late again!" "I can't make the debate meet! I have an appointment with my orthodontist!" Sound familiar? Then you seriously need some organization in your life. Without it, you'll end up late, lost and losing out. With it, you'll probably end up with more time than you thought possible. Want a little organizational secret? It's called a PDA or day planner. You need something to help you keep a detailed schedule of all of your assignments, appointments and responsibilities—as well as an up-to-date list of important phone numbers and e-mail addresses. A PDA or day planner will help keep you from double-booking; it will also help keep you from losing assignments and important phone numbers.
PDAs and day planners are great …when you remember to use them. But if you know PDAs or day planners are simply not your style, then find something that is your style. Talk to an adult who knows you well. Work with this person to figure out a system that matches your personality. Remember: If you do get organized (even with one of those style-cramping PDAs), you'll have a lot more time to express your personality and personal style!
3. Be Nice to Yourself
With all the things you have to do, it's easy to forget about taking care of your body. Don't let that happen. The next time you're tempted to pull an all-nighter or skip another meal because you're late for play practice, think twice. And think priority list. Decent eating habits, sleep and exercise should probably be near the top of the list. Here's the thing: When you're healthy and well rested, you feel better and you usually end up making the best use of the time you have.
4. Say "No"
If you're the type of person who's constantly overcommitting, you must learn to say no. Even if an activity or opportunity is good, it could be a bad choice if you already have too much to do. Possible problem: You overcommit because you're a people pleaser. That's a tough one, but try working on this area of your life. Practice saying no in a mirror. Spend time thinking about how much God loves you for who you are. Memorize Psalm 139:13-18. Repeat this sentence over and over: "I am important not because of what I do, but because God loves me!" If saying no continues to be hard to impossible, talk to your youth pastor or another trusted adult. Along with holding you accountable for how you use your time, this caring friend can also affirm your self-worth.
5. Don't Waste Small Spaces
Every day is the hiding place for small spaces of time. Search them out and put them to work. Let's say you're waiting in line at the mall. You can tap your foot impatiently over that terribly slow sales clerk. Or you can pull out small note cards and work on Spanish vocab. What about those spaces of time you spend waiting for a friend to arrive? Make good use of those five or ten minutes: Clear your floor of dirty clothes, write a note to a friend, pray for a family member. Another way to use those small spaces: Think about how you can use those small spaces!
Written by Cherissa Roebuck