By: Elise S.
Being a teenager can be challenging, especially when it comes to balancing your life. Finding a proper balance between school, friends, and family takes practice and time while adding extracurricular activities, personal well-being, and possibly a part-time job can seem monumental. Here are a few things you can do to help you not only survive, but thrive as you attempt to balance your life as a teen:
1. Prioritize. One of the first things to do is to set your priorities. This not only gets you started on the right path, but once you have a solid sense of your priorities, making decisions about how you spend your time will be easier, and everything will fall into place.
Make a list of the commitments in your life and group them into categories. For example: work, school (classes, SAT Prep), extracurricular (sports, IORG, student council), family, faith (youth group, church, daily devotionals), friends (social activities, book club).
Next put them in order of importance. This is one of the most difficult steps because it feels like you’re saying some things don’t matter. That’s not what prioritizing does; it’s really all about putting things in order of importance. While that might sound like an easy task, it is something that should be done with intentionality and probably some help from a wise family member or friend.
There are some critical questions to ask yourself when taking on this task. When you are looking at what you want your future to be, who and what will get you there? Will your family help and encourage you? Will your education be important to your career? Will your friends contribute to getting you to where you want to go? Will the extracurricular club or group help further you as a person or look good on a resume? Should you take on an internship or job so you have some experience in your field? By looking at what you want to do in the future and analyzing what is going to get you there, you can prioritize and balance the things that are going on in your life.
Using the example above, prioritization in a teenager’s life could look something like this:
1. Faith (For strength and foundation)
2. Family (For support)
3. School (For learning & exploring)
4. Extracurricular activities (For application building and growth)
5. Friends (For fun and support)
6. Work (For experience and money)
Of course, everyone will have a different set of activities to prioritize, but the most important things to remember are to tailor it to yourself and understand why you are prioritizing it the way you are. For a great way to approach prioritizing, take a look at this video by author and educator, Steven Covey: https://tinyurl.com/y9h599c3
2. Have a Schedule. Another important step to balancing life is to keep a schedule. Not just a school schedule but also for things like family nights, work, events, and calls with friends. Making a schedule doesn’t have to be limiting and rigid. In fact, every schedule should include down-time and time for self-care. The schedule should be in writing, and in a place you can access it. There are many online tools for scheduling that you can access right from your smartphone, like ZenDay – Calendar + Reminders, Any.do, and Fantastical – Calendar & Tasks, or you could just use a simple appointment calendar.
Whatever you do, keep it close and respect it.
3. Be Flexible. Finally, you should remember to allow for flexibility in your scheduling and be willing to revisit your priorities. There will be times when family has to be your top priority, and times when school is going to take the top spot. As long as you remember priorities, your schedule will align with what’s most important.
Remember the wise person who helped you come up with your priorities in the first place? Keep in touch and meet up to discuss how everything is going. Sometimes priorities shift in importance. Don’t be afraid to change your priorities if needed.
Taking these three steps will make a big difference in balancing your life. And maybe, having broken them down into steps, this task is not as challenging as it may have seemed in the beginning. Once you go through the process of prioritizing things, making a schedule, and keeping flexibility in mind, you will be that much closer to achieving balance in your life and succeeding in whatever comes your way.