If you want to take dance lessons, or join the baseball team, or participate in any other activities in your free time, it can be hard to squeeze them into your schedule. But here are some ideas to make that easier:
Be informed. When you get involved in a sport, club, or activity, make sure you find out how much time you'll be expected to dedicate, and get all the information you can about scheduled meetings, practices, games, etc. Sit down with your parent or guardian and have an honest discussion about what will be required of all of you, including who will drive you to and from events.
Consult your schedule. Alone or with an adult, get out your Daily Schedule and Weekly Planner, as well as your Monthly Calendar, and see if your new activity will fit into your schedule without stealing time from other important things.
Don't over-schedule. Adults want young people to succeed and get the most out of life, but sometimes they take this idea too far by cramming our schedules with sports, clubs, or other structured activities. Kids can do this too, by signing up for more things than they really have time for. It can lead to a growing problem called "over-scheduling."
How can you tell if you're over-scheduled? Here are some signs:
- You have to rush from one event to another.
- You're constantly in a battle with the clock.
- It takes a lot of effort to make your daily and weekly schedules come out right.
- You take drastic measures to save time, like eating dinner in the car while going from Scouts to band practice.
- You're often tired and grumpy.
- You feel like you have no free time at all.
- You're enjoying your activities less because there are too many of them.
- You're doing so many things that it feels like there's not enough time to get the most out of any single one of them.
If you recognize a number of these signs, it's time to sit down with an adult and talk about cutting back on the number of scheduled activities in your life.
Understand that dropping an activity is not "quitting." Adults can put a lot of pressure on us to stick with sports and activities and not give up, and sometimes we put just as much pressure on ourselves. But dropping something because you're over-scheduled is not the same as "giving up" just because something is challenging. If you feel over-scheduled, talk to a parent or guardian, and explain what all the rushing around and time pressure is doing to you.
Everyone needs free time. Did you know that many experts believe that having free time is one of the most important ways for us to learn, grow, and develop the skills we need to succeed? We all deserve a chance to just explore our world and our thoughts, and to develop our creativity and sense of fun apart from specific groups, organizations, and activities. Down time is very important. Make sure the adults in your life understand that.
Remember: Sports, clubs, and activities are supposed to make your life better, not worse. If you're spread thin by too many scheduled events, it may be time to simplify your life and give yourself a chance to just be you.
Next, we look at some of life's Top Time Wasters.