Ask to take a peek into any Singaporean students' calendar and you can bet that it's packed to the brim. A typical weekday can consist of school, followed my remedial classes or CCAs; then it's back home for dinner, and home tuition straight after.
With ballet lessons, piano lessons, friends, parents and homework all demanding for your time, how can you mix school and family, yet still make time to care of yourself? It's definitely possible. Here are some tips to help you juggle without losing balance.
1. Learn to compartmentalize
If you feel like you’re being pulled in different directions constantly, it helps to mentally divide all those responsibilities into three areas — your school work, your family and your self. School work includes your tuition and/or other lessons such as learning a new instrument or skill. Your family includes activities and spending time with your parents, siblings or relatives. Your self includes exercising, maintaining relationships with your friends and other social activities like serving in church or volunteering at an animal shelter.
You’re not going to naturally cover all three areas every day, so you need to consciously decide how best to nurture each area. Often, it all mixes together. Sometimes, you may find yourself doing all three at once like thinking about that maths assignment you have not completed while spending time with your family on a Saturday, and you all happen to be walking at East Coast Park before dinner, so you're getting in your exercise.
By compartmentalizing, you'll not feel so overwhelmed and stressed out by everything lumping together, and you'll also begin to see that all these responsibilities actually add to creating a balanced, full life.
2. Be flexible about what deserves your attention the most
You're not going to be able to achieve perfect balance between school, family, and personal care every day. In fact, it's practically impossible. Some mornings you'll wake up thinking, "Okay! This is what's going to happen today" and lay out your schedule mentally to decide what deserves your attention the most.
But by mid-afternoon when the entire class gets called to stay back for another 2 hours, and your friend last minute cancels on your pre-arranged dinner plans, and all the things you wanted to happen today goes awry, you're going to be upset.
Don’t stress about it or be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to deal with whatever surprises come your way, guilt-free. Even if you've decided to focus your attention on a whole bunch of things, there’s never enough time to do it all. So pick and choose wisely based on what you feel needs you the most. Just remember, at this age, school will always triumph hanging out with friends. If you can, combine the two so your attention is not split up. Have more study dates with your friends instead and then go grab a meal or movie together.
3. Never let any one area overwhelm the rest
If one of those three areas (school, family, and personal) is monopolizing your time, you have to tell yourself that it’s time to put it away. Too much of something becomes a bad thing. Having time to study is great, but if you're holed up in your room mugging until you start skipping meals, then perhaps it's time to put those lecture notes away and go out for a run.
Similarly, too much of exercising with your gym buddies until you "forgot" to study for that upcoming test is not prioritizing your time properly. It's all about self-control. At some point, one area has to give in to the other. But don't worry. Tomorrow is a brand new day and you get to go back to enriching all those areas all over again.