When I was in high school, I had my toes dipped in multiple different bowls. I ran cross country and track and field, I worked at an It’s Boba Time for a bit, I volunteered at my church, I had my own hobbies that I was dedicated to, and a family to spend time with. The art of balancing home, school, and work is something that can always be bettered, and I am still navigating this skill as I make my way into college.
However, before I dive into the long answer to this question, let me give you the short one first. Invest in an agenda/planner. I cannot stress this enough! My old high school provided planners for the students, and utilizing it was key to my success, AKA graduating with my sanity in-tact. About a month before I started my first year at Biola, I decided to purchase an agenda based on how useful it was for me in high school. Now some of you may have the same level of appreciation and fondness for stationary items, and some of you could care less, but wherever you land on the spectrum, buying an agenda or planner is my biggest advice to staying organized and keeping track of everything on your plate. It’s a very simple solution to a complex and messy problem; with an agenda, you can write out your daily/weekly schedule, a to-do list, goals, due-dates, doodles, and everything else that is plaguing the back of your mind! And it doesn’t even have to be an official or nice one, it could simply be a pad of paper that you write everything down on so your brain doesn’t face information overload. It could even be the calendar app on your phone! Whatever shape or form it may take, I would highly encourage every student - high school or college - to find something that allows your brain to relieve some of the tasks it carries, as a preliminary step to finding balance.
Now to get into the more in-depth answer, I’ve found that there isn’t one solution to help balancing school/work/family/etc., but rather multiple small habits that help achieve it. What tends to help me most is figuring out what my priorities are. My college life orbits around due-dates, so identifying my priorities helps me to stay on track. This could look like me working on my 2D Design classwork before I work on my Photography assignment because the classwork is due at midnight, and the photo project is due the next week. This is a fairly simple system to prevent yourself from feeling too overwhelmed; work on one thing at a time, and cross those things and check those boxes off your list!
Another helpful tip is to give yourself an appropriate amount of breaks during the day! With school being online, it becomes very easy for some to work non-stop through the day, and for others, to laze through the day. Rest is such an important practice that not only helps with pacing ourselves through the year, but it is also biblically-based! For some, it may look like honoring a day of Sabbath and abstaining from work and school for a full day. On a smaller scale it may look like taking actual lunch and dinner breaks; at the beginning of the school year when things were a bit hectic, I got into the habit of either eating quickly during class, or scarfing something down between. Giving yourself an actual half-hour/hour-long lunch or dinner break is not only nutritionally beneficial but serves as a rest-stop in the day. I’ve recently adopted this habit and have found it to also be a nice time with my family, as they also take a break from school and work to eat their meals as well. Rest may even look like discerning when to stop working; if I can feel myself getting tired or drained from a long day, I choose to stop working because I know that it will either be unproductive or the work done will not be done to the best of my ability. This helps me to create boundaries and understand thresholds on how much I am capable of!
I mentioned priorities earlier in regards to schoolwork/assignments to stay organized and focused, but I also wanted to mention the importance of prioritizing time for yourself, friends, and family! Making time in your schedule dedicated to indulging yourself in your hobbies or hanging out with friends is such an important activity that is not work or school oriented. For me, it becomes very easy to put friends and family on the back burner and focus solely on school and work. Although people don’t have due dates and grades, they are just as important to our well-being and should be prioritized alongside academia. Now that we are a month into school, and I am more accustomed to my schedule, I’ve been able to incorporate small activities and hangouts into my day. Since my classes end around 12pm on Fridays, I’ve started to go out for an afternoon surf with my dad. This fun activity not only helps me to wind down, but it also gives me something to look forward to throughout the work week. I cannot stress enough how important it is to let yourself feel joy throughout your day!
At the end of the day, we can adopt as many habits and rituals as we want to help achieve balance, but truly, God is the only one that can sustain us! Going into my first year of college, and it being virtual, I quickly realized how finite I am as a human being, and that I can not juggle everything by myself. Committing our burdens to the Lord and leaning on Him is one of the most crucial things we can do to maintain a life of peace and calm. Especially with most of you readers being in your junior and senior years of high school - possibly the most pivotal time of your teenage years - learning to trust God is the best wisdom I can impart for now. Please know that the Ambassador team, myself included, are always praying for you all and what lies ahead!