I don’t. No, seriously! I am *that person* who is ALWAYS late, ALWAYS overdue, and ALWAYS running behind. If they gave out an award for procrastination, I would get it… eventually.
But this is a question I get surprisingly frequently! All my readers hear about my busy life–flying to book signings, writing novels, tutoring young writers, teaching piano, and running a photography business–and they wonder how I don’t lose my head. And, quite frankly, I wonder the same thing a lot of the time. How am I not going absolutely CRAZY? How do I still have time for school and a social life?
*Sigh* It’s a struggle. Honestly, it is. And I am definitely not the most organized person on the planet, so it’s probably ten times harder for me than it would be for someone else in my shoes. Also, on top of being a procrastinator, I’m also an over-achiever, which works out into this weird mix of lazy ambition that really wears me out most of the time.
BUT, I do have a life! And I am fairly successful at what I do. So I figured I’d share some advice on how to balance a busy life in your teens.
First, make sure that school comes first.
Agh. Boring. I know. But if you’re still in middle or high school, that is the most important part of your life right now and you have to realize that! I’m never allowed to do ANYTHING until all my schoolwork is done. Accounting tests have to be taken. Economics homework has to be given in. Having a good education is very important to me, and I think it’s really the foundation for being successful in life (apart from God, of course!). I’m not talking about a fancy ivy-league school kind of education, or even a college education, mind you! I’m just referring to a good old high school basic understanding of math, history, literature, economics, and government. (Notice I didn’t say science. Science is pointless and I have yet to understand how understanding the different fungi kingdoms is going to help me in life)
For me, I refuse to over-commit myself to anything unless I know I can get my schoolwork done first. I might procrastinate and cram sometimes, but it’s definitely important for me to have good grades and be well-read. I think it will really help me later in life when it comes to determination and learning new things.
Second, don’t wear too many hats at the same time.
This is such a problem for me. I’m one of those people who isn’t super smart or even driven, but I have a lot of different talents that I’m really interested in! For years, I tried to balance writing, piano, and photography–on top of everything else I have going on! But I’ve learned that being jack of all trades really makes you master of none. So I’ve decided to cut back on piano and really pursue writing–my number one passion! I’ve also decided to combine my loves of writing and photography on a super-cool new project with my sister that I’ll be announcing very soon!
It’s all about prioritizing. I’ve learned the hard way that if you try to do too many things at once, you’ll just get overwhelmed. But if you pick one or two (or, in my case, if I’m being honest–three or four) things that you love and really pursue them, you’ll be much more successful!
Also, be honest with your friends about how much free time you have.
I love how all of my friends are super busy and I’m super busy and we can just be honest with each other about that. We’re all working young adults who have busy schedules to juggle, and we’ve learned this usually means our get-togethers are a bit more limited and spontaneous. When I want to meet with my best friend for coffee (or tea, on my part) I’ve learned that it’s usually better to shoot her a message first thing in the morning saying “Coffee? 3 PM?” than trying to plan something out way ahead of time. If she’s free, she’ll come. If not, it’s no big sweat.
Don’t worry about telling your friends that you can’t meet up with them because you have some edits to do or some school to catch up on. If they’re real friends, they’ll respect your space and wait!
But most importantly, remember to make time to just chill.
I seriously CANNOT stress just how important this is. With a busy life of late nights and early mornings, overdue projects and scheduled appointments, sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re still just a teenager and you need time to just chill out and have fun. Take off work one weekend. Go to the movies with your friends and spill popcorn everywhere. Sleep in every once in a while. If you overwork yourself, you’ll never truly be happy, even if you love what you do.
Sometimes I surprise myself by putting together a semi-helpful blog post. Hopefully I’ve done that today! Anyway, let me know if you still have questions, comments, or suggestions on this topic. I’d love to hear them!