How To Go From Overwhelmed To Organised

How To Go From Overwhelmed To Organised

Classes, assignments, exams, extracurriculars, and college application work- the to-do list of high school students is endless. And we are not even counting the peer drama, body image issues, and other anxieties that teenagers have to grapple with in today’s age. Social media and gaming addiction also hinder concentration on their tasks. We have observed that almost all students struggle with time management at some point during their high school years. 

Students get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work on their plates. At times, the stress can run so high that they start struggling to concentrate on their daily tasks. During such times, the one thing that almost always gets compromised is their sleep. Research says that teens need 9-10 hours of sleep every day, and some may need even more. We strongly urge parents to ensure their kids get their daily quota of quality sleep to ensure proper cognitive development and daily functioning of their kids.

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Coming back to time management, it is a crucial skill that can define success in the long term. Prioritising tasks is something people learn over time. We are great proponents of using frameworks and believe they can help provide a structure to this otherwise chaotic world. 

For time management, we recommend using the Eisenhower Urgent/Important Matrix. When you categorise tasks based on urgency and importance, it becomes easier to focus on tasks that need to be prioritised. In fact, the matrix also defines the action required for each quadrant. 

To use this matrix effectively, the first step is to list down all the activities. Let’s consider the following list for our example.

  • Study for exams that begin in a month
  • Work on an assignment due after two days
  • Social media
  • Clean the room
  • Study for SAT scheduled after two months
  • Hit the gym
  • Work on a project you are doing outside of school
  • Hang out with friends

Also Read: How To Prepare In The Days Before The Exam


To divide them into the four quadrants of the matrix, let’s categorise these tasks as Urgent-Important, Urgent – not Important, Not Urgent – Important and Not Urgent – Not Important. 

  • Study for exams begin in a month – For all students, the number one priority is always academic grades as university admissions depend on it. Since there is still a month for the exams to begin, we can put the task in the bucket of Important and not Urgent. As per the matrix you can schedule it. Make a time table and allot time every day to study for your exams – give more time to tougher subjects instead of giving equal time to all of them.
  • Work on an assignment due after two days – School assignments are important and since this is scheduled in two days, it makes sense to focus more on it. Since it is both urgent and important, you have to do it.
  • Social media – We live in a digital world, and you may feel left out if you do not access social media. Contrary to this belief, we have a few students who are not on social media and tell us they are not missing out on anything. In fact, it allows them to build real connections with their friends. We believe spending time on social media is neither urgent nor important. It is best to drop it. However, if you think it is an important part of your life, you can spend around 20 minutes on it. Be very mindful of its use as it is easy to get drowned as you scroll through your phone.
  • Clean the room – Your parents could have been nagging you to clean your room. It may seem not important to you. However, maintaining personal hygiene and decluttering your room can actually help you concentrate better. Also, it is one of those mundane activities that help you get back your focus if you are struggling with it. If your room is very messy, it becomes an urgent yet not important task and you can ask your parents for help.
  • Study for SAT scheduled after two months – Going by the logic we have used for exams, you can schedule this important yet not urgent task in your daily time table.
  • Hit the gym – Exercise is important for any teenager’s overall well-being. We consider it to be both important and urgent and by the logic of the matrix, you must do it. However, if you are really pressed by the assignment due in the next two days, you may schedule it.
  • Work on a project you are doing outside of school – If you have volunteered to do something, we believe you would have put enough thought into it. In short, it must be important to you. If your deliverable is not urgent, schedule it. However, if it is something that has fallen into your plate, it can be categorised as not important yet urgent. You can ask for help if the deadline is near.
  • Hang out with friends – For teenagers, their friends are their world. When you spend time with them, you do yourself a favour as you fulfil your inherent need for social interaction. When you have disagreements, you learn how to negotiate, let go and build better connections. This is very important but not urgent and you must schedule time for it every week. 

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Now, let’s put these tasks in the matrix and see what it looks like.

With this handy tool, you can focus on activities that require immediate action and make an effective to-do list and make your days more productive.

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