Guest Author - Michelle Anne Cope
Now that you are into the new school year, it's okay to stop and take another look at your overall schedule. How are you? If you find yourself regularly exhausted, grumpy, upset, frustrated or confused, now is the time to find the reason why. Wishing to add a few more hours to each day is only a wish, and one that is not realistic. The reality is the fact that you just might be trying to do too much. If this is the case, you could be feeling overloaded and overwhelmed.
Let's imagine that you have a schedule of classes requiring outside reading and homework. Then, you have choir practice with two new songs to learn, and drama club meetings where you hope to audition for the fall play. You're also on the track team with scheduled practices and meets. At home, you have chores and family commitments and seem to be running from one task to another. Your mind feels a little fuzzy and you're having trouble prioritizing your assignments and obligations. To save time, you're also skipping meals and eating more fast food. Any attempt at a social life has been pretty gloomy because you can't seem to catch up. Yet, your best friend's birthday party is this Saturday at one-thirty. Your Karate class starts at one. On the way to the party, you're going to stop and check your work schedule. No worry, you have plenty of time! Do you?
Let's stop imagining and exchange the activities above with your actual schedule. Is this scenario close to what you are feeling in regard to your life and time? If it is, let's do an evaluation and intervention with your schedule.
Your class schedule may be set in stone already. If you do have the ability to make changes or adjustments to your course load, make sure you seek advice. Talk to your school counselor as well as your parents before you submit a request to drop a class. Before you meet with anyone to have this discussion, make a few notes. You need to explain your reasoning for making changes as well as offer suggestions on how you plan to complete these classes in the future.
Work, chores and family commitments are not only part of being a teenager, they will also follow you as an adult. The good news is that, right now, you might be able to make some adjustments to this area of your life. Talk to your parents about your work schedule as well as your list of chores. They may not understand the stress and pressure you feel unless you tell them. You might be able to make some changes in this area rather than drop a class. If that is the case, once again be prepared with your reasons and suggestions before initiating a conversation.†
You can also talk to your boss and see if an adjustment in your work schedule can be made. Many mangers will appreciate such a face-to-face conversation. It shows your level of maturity and responsibility. Prepare yourself for this talk with exact reasons on why you need less hours, and offer to work your regular schedule during breaks or other times. Only make this offer if it will be feasible to your time and schedule.
What about the rest of your schedule? Sports, clubs, and other structured activities are also important to both your academic and social life. However, you don't have to do everything all at one time. I'm not preaching when I say, you need to talk to your parents, coaches, teachers, and leaders before making a quick decision about what to keep and what to cut. They have an investment in you and are interested in your education and life. Make sure to continue the practice of giving reasons and suggestions for your changes in these conversations.
Evaluating and reorganizing your schedule is perfectly okay. It is not a sign of weakness or indecision of any type. Itís a sign of your growth as a teen and a person. You want to do the best you can do, but have realized that you might have overloaded and overwhelmed yourself. Being honest with yourself and others can help you in making decisions and changes. These adjustments will make you more productive and allow you some time to enjoy life ó your teenage life!