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Sometimes it seems like all I do is juggle – I have so much stuff to keep track of and I’m so busy that I’m constantly trying to keep my life together. How do I learn how to balance it all? – Busy McUnbalanced

A: Between parents, school, after-school stuff, God, friends, youth group, work, choosing a college, your boyfriend, your siblings, and sleeping, life can feel like one big balancing act. It can feel like you're trying to juggle a bunch of fiery clubs and if you drop one, everything could go up in smoke. Unfortunately, learning to balance things is a lifelong struggle, but there are some things you can start doing now to help prevent a wildfire from starting.

Get it straight. Setting priorities isn't always easy. Putting something as your top priority doesn't mean that you spend all of your time doing that one thing and there are times that one of your lower priorities will jump rank and become a top priority for a little while. However, it helps to have your priorities in order. If you're feeling unbalanced, it might be time to take an honest look at where your priorities are. If you can't tell, think about what you spend the most time doing or thinking about and that should help you determine where your priorities are right now. After that, think and pray about where you want your priorities to fall. (Here's a hint: spending time with God is something that usually falls onto the back burner if you're running out of time, but if you'll set aside time to be with God, though you won't actually have more time, the rest of your day will feel a lot more peaceful and manageable.)

Learn managerial skills. Time management is a priceless skill. If you can practice good time management skills now, your transition into college and adulthood will be a breeze. Sometimes simply taking care of your chores and homework before you get on the phone or check your Facebook can be a good solution to your stress problem. Reward yourself for getting your work done by doing something you enjoy. Spending time with friends is important, but don't spend so much time with friends that you don't have time to spend with your family.

Just say "No." Learning to say no to drugs is important, but it's also important to learn to say no to things you don't have time to do. If you're already student body president, leading your Youth Alive group, playing Basketball, working 15 hours a week, singing in the choir, and running track, it might not be a good idea to agree to be captain of your drill team. Choose the activities that you want to do the most, and learn to say no. If something comes along that you'd really like to do, consider what activity you could give up and replace with something new. Though it might be tough to say "no" at first, you'll feel better when you remember what enjoying free time actually feels like.

Be responsible for your responsibilities. I know it sounds a little obvious, but it's good to distinguish between things that are your responsibility and things that aren't. It's important to learn to do the things you're responsible to the best of your ability and to let things slide that aren't your responsibility. For example, you're responsible for your homework, chores, relationship with God, actions, and commitments. You're not responsible for the argument your parents had last night, world peace, the fight your friend is having with your other friend (be supportive, but don't take on responsibility for their problems), or the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, so pray about it and let God handle the things you can't.

You'll probably never achieve a perfect balance of all the things you have going on in your life, but don't let that discourage you. Actually, you should feel encouraged. No one is expecting perfection from you, but keep these things in mind as you learn to bring your life into alignment with what God has for you.



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