It’s no secret that, as Pres girls, we spend a lot of time studying, planning, and worrying. At this point, the question isn’t if we’re stressed but how stressed we are. That’s why student wellness has found its way to the top of the administration’s priority list. The Voice sought out the advice of Director of Student Wellness Nancy Taylor to figure out how to tackle one of the biggest obstacles keeping teenagers from that hakuna matata state-of-mind: time management.
The issue arises when–surprise, surprise–students try to take on more than they can handle. What you might not have realized is how easy it is to fall victim to this seemingly harmless cycle of saying “yes” to things. One minute you’re signing up to volunteer at the CI Service Fair, and the next minute you’re sitting in front of the computer at 2 in the morning with a half written research paper.
Taylor says that this problem stems from a combination of wanting to build up résumés and not knowing how to pare down an already overflowing list of activities. “By the time students get to the end of sophomore year, into junior year, they start hearing about how important it is to have leadership and community service and clubs, so then they think ‘Okay I need to add that in. So I’ve got all these clubs already, now I need to add in more community service or more leadership.’”
“Their plates get full,” she continues. “And then on top of that, students are feeling like they need to add in honors and APs. Every year, it just gets layered up, so that by the time you guys get to the fall of your senior year and you have college applications, as well as maintaining the rigor of your curriculum and the leadership and the community service–something’s got to give.”
And give it does. “The first thing that gives is usually sleep,” Taylor says. “Sleep has such a profound effect on mental health and I don’t think we give that enough credit. They’ve done sleep deprivation studies, and the first thing they see [when people don’t get enough sleep] is depression. Because when you’re asleep and dreaming and going through the sleep cycles, that’s your subconscious way of processing and making sense of everything you encountered that day. And when you don’t give your body and your mind the space to do that, then you’re not able to cope as well.”
Ah, yes. The ever elusive, ever appealing sleep. As teenagers, we can’t seem to get enough of it. The problem is, funnily enough, we literally can’t get enough of it. “Getting enough sleep” just doesn’t seem to fit into our jam-packed schedules. This, however, is only further indication that our time management skills might need reevaluating.
Thankfully, our counseling department has some ideas about how we can more effectively deal with this apparent shortage of time. A lot of us tend to think about our schedules from the front end forward, thinking I’ll get around to going to bed after I finish everything I need to do. But this could be the wrong way to go about it. “We can focus time management on back-ending it instead, sort of looking at it by scheduling the most important things first, and then seeing what room you have left for other stuff.”
First of all, Taylor says, “You have to know how much sleep you need to be your best self.” This means figuring out what time you should be in bed. Pick a time and stick to it. Don’t leave room to make excuses for yourself. Only then should advanced classes and extracurriculars be taken into consideration. Decide how much time you have for homework and activities, advises Taylor, then plan your schedule based on that. “It’s important to pick a few [activities] and focus on them. Think of depth rather than breadth.”
This is the sort of tip that can be applied to more than just extracurriculars. The “quality over quantity” mentality should be carried over into our school work and home life, as well. Maybe if it is, we’ll have a better chance of slowing down long enough to realize that we need more sleep than we’re getting. After all, have you ever heard of someone being both sleep deprived and stress free?