The Key to Setting Priorities and Managing your Activities

Author: Jolie

We’re told that the effort we put into something defines how much we’ll get out of it (Headspace, anyone?). Sometimes, believing this, we exert all of our effort, time, dedication, and strength into one singular activity – or we stretch ourselves too thin by taking on too much.

If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, you’re probably familiar with this term: burnout. What exactly is burnout? It’s a state of chronic stress where you just feel exhausted, to varying degrees, where you have very little or no motivation to pick yourself up again. You feel tired, unaccomplished, and unproductive – or, to summarize it, it’s a sudden shock wave of laziness and the lack of willpower. If you’re in school, or work a job, you’ll know how and why it occurs. Balancing your education, responsibilities, social life, and extracurriculars feels like a lot – and it definitely is. The question then becomes: how can you combat this?

Ultimately, the first thing you want to do is determine how serious the situation is. Has it just been one stressful, tiring day, or is this something that’s been going on for weeks? If it’s the former, just take a small break – go to sleep earlier that night, or take the next day off school – minor adjustments to get you back on your feet.

If it’s the latter though, it’ll be slightly more challenging, but doable nonetheless! Some common signs of chronic burnout include a loss of appetite, feeling anxious or depressed, experiencing phases of insomnia, and extreme fatigue.

Identifying which of these symptoms impacts you the most is quite valuable – it’ll tell you where to go from your starting point.

Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed from the amount of homework you have – in that case, it may be smart to speak with your counselors or teachers (trust me, they want what’s best for you!). Or perhaps you’ve taken on too many extracurriculars and you’re stretching yourself thin (something I’ve personally experienced multiple times). If so, sit down, make a list of priorities, and consider dropping a few activities. Knowing what matters most to you, whether it is school, sports, clubs, volunteering – you can only do so much with the 24 hours in a day. This brings me to my next point…

Learn how to say no.

I know, I know, you’ve probably just read that sentence and thought: ‘what is wrong with her? You should always take on every opportunity you get!’ But hear me out. Opportunities are great, but there’s always a point at which you’re taking on way too much. Think of it like a marginal utility curve. There’s a boundary where your activities are effective, most likely the ones you enjoy the most – but as you keep adding on more and more, you’re not able to dedicate enough time to any of those. As a result, you get nothing but stress and you’re not performing at your best.

Learning how to say no can be a difficult task, but with this, comes maturity and responsibility. Remember, you only have so much time on your hands – time management and prioritizing are always going to be your saving grace in the end.

You are the only person who can shape YOUR path.

Your future and your aspirations are all under your control. How you decide to manage your time is completely up to you – and this comes with learning to make choices that will best benefit you, even if they seem difficult at first.