As a senior in high school, I’ve recently found out that there’s no such this as being “done”. I remember my days in elementary and middle school, taking a breath after a couple of hours of homework, and finally calling it a day after accomplishing the work assigned to me.
Fast-forward a good five years, and here I am, trying to cram the assignments I’ve written down in my agenda, while a handful of other tasks run through my mind, waiting to be done. These include college applications, Senior photos, catching up with reading, and responding to the time-sensitive emails sitting in my inbox, to name a few. However, I often find myself hitting “next episode” on Netflix, and calling it “balance”.
So how does one truly feel accomplished at the end of the day, while still knowing that there are several tasks still waiting to be done? Though it may seem simple, here are a few tips I’ve picked up in my years of high school that may help:
List your top five most important tasks you wish to complete, and order them from most to least time-sensitive. Decide on the number of tasks that if you complete, you will feel content with at the end of the day (for me, I list five, but decide on three, that if completed, will allow me to feel accomplished at the day’s end). Because you’ve already acknowledged that the remaining tasks are not as pressing as the first few, it’s not as difficult to be proud of the amount you’ve accomplished.
When it comes to simply working out what tasks to tackle first, I’ve found that a method I picked up in one of my 11th-grade classes works well for me. It consists of clearly sorting the items on your to-do list into the following categories: - Important and Urgent - Urgent but Not Important - Important but Not Urgent - Not Important and Not Urgent
You may find that simply categorizing your day’s duties into these boxes will give you the peace of mind needed to actually begin to tackle and get them done, one by one. Once you’ve put your various duties on paper, you’ve clearly differentiated between what needs to be done promptly, and what doesn’t. You may find that if you can say that you’ve dealt only with what’s “Important and Urgent” by the end of the day, you’ll feel more encouraged to take on your remaining responsibilities and content with what you’ve managed to complete so far.
Though we regularly measure the day’s success by the amount of work we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s often helpful and uplifting to choose an activity you feel contributes to your growth as a person, or just makes you happy at the end of the day. For me, on days when I have been able to complete my set amount of activities and also on the day where I have not, I try my best to throw in an activity I find interesting, one I can do out of pure enjoyment. For example, a topic I’ve always been interested in is astronomy, so I’ll listen to an astronomy podcast before I go to bed, or I’ll simply pick up a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. At the day’s end, even if I haven’t been able to get to every task on my list, I know I’ll have done something meaningful towards achieving a better sense of balance.