“You must excuse my gruff conduct,” the watchdog said, after they’d been driving for some time, “but you see it’s traditional for watchdogs to be ferocious.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

On a rare visit to Facebook, I came across an article, “26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20” on Business Insider.  To be precise, it isn’t really an article, but just a list of screenshots sharing Étienne Garbugli’s SlideShare presentation, in which he creatively shared tips he wished he had known when he was younger.  These hacks range from how productive we actually are in a day, to how to maximize on communication in a busy day.

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As a person in my (early) 20s, I wouldn’t call myself a master at time management, though I would love to call myself that.  How can I call myself such, when procrastination has a “tendency” of becoming my best friend? 😅

Since I am the age that Garbugli’s targeting his presentation to, I want to share my list of tips that I wish I had known in my teens, going into high school.  Middle school was a breeze, where it didn’t matter if you procrastinated or not because the work load was so light and deadlines were always at the end of the year.  High school was an abrupt wakeup call because my middle school habits were no longer viable and my new school’s environment didn’t allow it.

In a matter of months, I was thrust into a quasi-college setting, where no one cared about where they were, but where they were going to be at the end of the four years and beyond.  Looking back, I regret those four years so much because I was so underprepared and now these effects are harming the future that I’m currently living in.

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Here are the time management hacks and other life hacks I wish I had known in my teen years:

  1. Four years may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. High school is nothing like the things you’ve seen in every 90s-teen movie, and sadly, you probably won’t get to have those experiences.
  2. Make your digital calendar or planner your best friends, with obnoxious reminders because deadlines will always creep up on you, especially when you take multiple AP classes in a year, on top of your extracurricular activities.
  3. Instead of thinking about trying to find time to play games, think about how to cram in more sleep because. In college, you’ll regret your decision when you’re not in peak condition, after four years of abusing your youth.
  4. Truthfully, high school’s just part one of your undergrad years, while college’s part two. Basically, you’re in college for at least eight years, more if you decide to go to professional school too, so every grade counts.
  5. Try to plan your hangouts with friends around your extracurricular activities because it’s an easy way to kill multiple birds with one stone. You get to spend time with your friends, explore your mutual hobbies, save money, and write on your college applications that you were involved in various activities that you love/have grown to love.
  6. Join the sports teams that you were involved in and passionate about during your middle school days – soccer and dance are just two easy ways to get your daily workouts and it really pads your college apps.
  7. Office hours are amazing. It’s an easy way to befriend your teachers outside of the class(es) that you’re taking with them and practice your interpersonal skills with people older than you, a precursor to meeting hiring managers.  Also, you never know if they may end up being lifelong friends!
  8. Boys will come and go, so don’t worry about finding your true love in high school. After all, you want to marry a man, not a boy, right? 😉
  9. Read as much as you can because there are so many beautiful pieces out there. You won’t have enough time to enjoy them when you’re older, and reading is one of the keys to success.
  10. Schedule time away from technology, even if it seems counterintuitive to productivity. Technology’s a crucial part of society, but migraines are no one’s best friend.
  11. Whenever you have an idea, write it down. You never know when that idea can blossom into something great, so save it!
  12. Don’t give up and procrastinate when you don’t understand something; just work on something else. You may find yourself inspired to solve the problem you were stuck on while you do something else.
  13. Have a part time job so you can get work experience and cash. Surprisingly, it’s expensive to be a high schooler, especially in NYC and it’s embarrassing to ask your parents for money all the time.
  14. Don’t excuse missing out on opportunities on your personality. Everyone’s scared of rejection, and regardless of getting the opportunity or not, having a backbone’s invaluable.
  15. Try things on your own. Friends and family are safety blankets, but they also prevent you from realizing your true potential, so go out in the wild and create some unique memories.

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Honestly, I could go on and on about the things I wish I could have done right when I was a teenager, but it’s better to leave some things unsaid.  Life’s about growing from the mistakes you made, so if I had a solution for everything, I’ve defeated the purpose of living.

For a person who loves perfection, I know that we aren’t meant to be perfect.  Hence, we shouldn’t kill ourselves with stress trying to make everything right, then forgetting to live.  It’s important to focus on the small details, but don’t forget that they’re part of a bigger picture, and not every detail will show when you take a step back.

xoxo,

the girl who regrets her high school years, but hopes that they won’t matter when she’s older

IMAGE CREDIT: On Point with Tom Ashbrook
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