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Handling Stress in a Hectic Schedule


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Homework, community service, sports practice, studying for the SATs, part-time jobs... the to-do list in a high school student's busy life sometimes seems impossibly long. How is one person supposed to do it all?

In order to make the most of your time, try following these simple tips. These may be "no-brainers", but they really do make a difference.

1) Prioritize. Decide what's most important to finish and do your tasks in that order. Number your priorities (1 being the most important). You can also keep track of items to bring; for example, if you have a skit for drama or soccer practice the next day, note to yourself "bring costume" or "soccer cleats".

2) Keep a planner. You might have a hundred things to do each day; on top of it all, your boss, your teachers, your parents, and your friends are probably all clamoring for your time. To avoid missing any appointments or events, get a day planner and record every obligation in it. Write down everything, even things you think you will remember: homework (note down the specific assignment and the due date), special events, medical appointments, etc.

3) Avoid procrastination by simplifying your task. Procrastination plagues many students, from couch potatoes to perfectionists. To combat it, start early and break down the obligation into smaller tasks. For example, when starting an essay, you might first do a quick outline before writing. Then write your essay in chunks- start with the introduction, then move on to the next paragraph, and so on. Remember to take a break after every hour.

If you're stuck on one part, work on something else and let your subconscious mull over the problem. Or if you had the initiative to start early, you could let it sit for a day and "sleep on it" (it really works). Also, you could consult a textbook or other resource or get help from a teacher, peer tutor, or friend.

4) If you have extra time, make sure to use it. When you find that homework took you an hour less than you expected, use that time to get ahead on your project or to study.

You could also use the time to do things that you should do but don't normally have time for, like applying for scholarships, researching colleges, reading , or practicing for an upcoming band performance. Even a few minutes is useful; spend it brushing up on SAT vocabulary or editing your research paper. Don't just waste it on mindless email-checking.

5) Don't forget to spend time on yourself. Once in a while, after you've finished everything that you have to do, you can rest, read your favorite novel, or socialize with your friends. Do things that really matter to you.

Also remember to take care of yourself. Eat healthy, balanced meals and snacks, drink water, exercise (walking your dog or playing sports count), and get nine hours of sleep every night. The last suggestion is not always possible, but it helps a lot. Studies show that teens who get enough sleep perform better on tests and get better grades.

After all, what's the point of keeping up a hectic schedule if you're miserable all the time? By spending quality time on yourself, you'll be more motivated to manage your time for the other, more stressful activities on your schedule.



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