This post is part of a series focusing on Time Management for Teens, Students, and High Schoolers. Get the complete online course here or order the book here!

Applying Time Management in High School

Ok, so now we’re going to be talking about how the general advice on time management from previous articles (like this one on 3 rules of time management, this one on identifying your top priorities in life, and this one about secret calendar tricks) can be directly applied to the specific challenges faced by teenagers in HIGH SCHOOL.

This article is all about using self-knowledge to make high school a better, more productive, and more useful experience for you.

First, go back to the previous article about identifying your top one to five priorities in life - if you didn’t already pause and brainstorm until you got some results written down, please back up and go do it now, because it’s 100% mandatory for this article on high school time management to work for you.

In that article we discussed A TON of methods for discovering your passions such as:

  • Journaling on what you consistently daydream about when you’re bored with something else.
  • Asking yourself “what puts me in a state of flow that I can’t wait to get back in to?”
  • Making a list of the people, figures, and characters who are your heroes and heroines, and analyzing their characters for clues to your own dreams.
  • Asking yourself what PILGRIMAGES do you want to make - where to, and why?
  • And, what skills do you like to use, practice, and hone in your day-to-day life?

After all the brainstorming was done, we also talked about identifying main categories that might be called stuff like “adventure” or “success” or “family and friends” or “athletic excellence” or whatever else keeps coming up as most important to you.

Time Management Stories From High School

Now, I want to tell you a couple of stories about two good friends of mine from high school, as well as return to my own story about figuring out what to do with my life, because I think these tales DIRECTLY relate to your own current situation in high school.

Sam’s Story: The Movie Director

The first story is probably what I would call the “happiest” although it’s not the only happy ending.

This is the story of my high school friend, whom I’ll call “Sam,” who had a HUGE passion for movies.

He knew EVERYTHING about all the actors, the plots, the directors and special effects, for as long as I’ve known him… he’s always wanted to WRITE and DIRECT movies ever since high school.

ALL his passion and focus was directed around it since the day we met.

In high school he organized film groups, got teachers to help him out, and even worked with the local city film groups.

It was a cinch for him to get into NYU for film school, which is known as one of the best places for young directors to study.

He continued to find many friends and people (young and old) who had similar dreams and they all supported each other in their movie-making dreams.

And, before he was 28, he’d already found investors and directed a full-length feature movie with his friends that premiered at several film festivals.

Now he’s planning his next movie and I’m sure he’ll take the lessons from the first one and continue to press forward towards his dreams.

It’s really inspiring and I think we could all afford to learn something from his example!

The point is, he identified his life priorities very early in high school and was able to focus his time management around his main goal of becoming a movie director.

My Story: The Entrepreneur-Musician

Now, in my OWN story, I feel like I’ve done pretty well in terms of finding my passions and working towards life goals that matter to me although not quite as impressively well as Sam has done so far!

See, I’ve NEVER been able to boil myself down to just one passion, and at best I’ve got it down to about three favorites – like I’ve said, my favorite things are music, motorcycle travel, and building my SAT/ACT prep company

And I feel lucky to have discovered these passions before I was 30! (Not that there’s anything wrong with figuring it out after 30, either - but I do think it’s nice to know what you want to use your life for as soon as possible!)

If I have any real regret, it’s just that I didn’t start SOONER on my goals of music and entrepreneurship -because ever since I started trusting myself and believing in my goals instead of listening to what other people say, things have come together better and faster for me.

See, I never used to trust myself. For example, back in 7th grade, I was good with electronics and I already had the idea to start a computer company.

BUT, the adults around me discouraged me from trying it (because I’d need to borrow money from outside investors or friends or family, and I was a 7th grader so who knows if THAT would have worked).

And because of that sort of negative experience, it was about 15 more years before I ever considered the idea of starting my own business again –

But turns out, I actually LOVE starting my own businesses and projects and stuff, and I’m pretty good at it because I have passion for it, it fits my personality, and the required skills are a good match for me.

So even though I feel like my story has a happy ending, I still know I could be WAY ahead of where I am now if only I’d noticed and trusted my passions sooner.

That’s one of the things that really motivates me to be a teacher and write these blog posts on time management in high school:

I want YOU to find your passions years earlier than I did, because I truly believe that the world is a better place if we’re all working hard on the things we care most about.

James’s Story: The Aimless One

Now, I’ve got a somewhat more unfortunate story to tell you.

This is the story of another high school friend, who I’ll call James, who followed through on what he thought other people respect and what he thought other people would pay well for.

He started off REALLY strong in high school, working on things he cared about like artistic and creative projects, which he was really good at it.

But, over time he somehow lost his way, and every time I met him he seemed more and more focused on other people’s goals that didn’t seem like HIM any more.

He’s worked REALLY hard towards those goals, just like I have - but despite the fact that he and I have both worked quite hard, he seems very UNHAPPY, and I think it’s because he hasn’t gotten closer to what he truly cares about.

I’m sure he’ll get there eventually, because I believe in him in as a friend and a fellow human being, but personally, I think it’s just better to avoid this whole aimless situation in the first place.

Put Your Own Dreams First In High School

Try not to follow the path of James’s example where you STOP doing what you truly care about - maybe because you’re worried it’s not respected or well-paid enough or your friends won’t think it’s cool or your family won’t approve –

Because in the end no one else’s approval matters more than your own.

If you’re seeking someone ELSE’s approval as your own measure of success, then no matter HOW hard you work, you will NEVER - EVER - be able to get close enough to the happiness that you seek!

You have to decide for yourself what matters in life. It’s as easy and as difficult as that.

Lessons for Time Management in High School

Here are the lessons we can take from all this for the purposes of our high school time management course.

The happiest people I know have focused on their top priorities from as early as possible.

That means they DON’T measure their success or their path in OTHER people’s eyes –

You HAVE to measure it by your progress on the top one to five things that YOU actually care about

Knowing and understanding this principle might be the MOST IMPORTANT thing you EVER learn in life because it’s the ONLY rule that can lead to you being fulfilled, happy, and productive, and those traits absolutely radiate out into the rest of your life and eventually improve the lives of everyone else around you.

The more I do what I love, the more it seems to attract and help the people around me because I’m POWERED UP and I have tons of energy and knowledge to share because I care so much, because I’m working on my NATURAL PASSIONS that no one had to tell me to follow!

Do The Stuff You Love, As Much As You Can

Get it? You want to work on the stuff that NO ONE has to FORCE you to do - the stuff that you NEVER WANT TO STOP doing!

Like movies, motorcycling, starting businesses, helping people, teaching people, saving lives, seeing the world, helping people get healthy, or telling incredible stories - POWERFUL dreams like these will make you powerful too.

You can ONLY properly manage your time in high school if you know your top priorities and they aren’t somebody else’s.

You don’t have to be PERFECT or EXACTLY RIGHT about your life priorities in high school, although the closer you can get, the better.

What matters MOST right now is that you pause and take time to seriously think about what I’m saying, and even work it out with a pen and paper until you reach your next level of insight into yourself –

What Do You REALLY Care About in High School?

Ask yourself this:

What do you REALLY FREAKIN’ CARE ABOUT when no one else is watching?

NOT “what’s highly paid,” “what does my family want”, “what would my friends think is cool.”

Are there any goals you’re pursuing right now that are NOT your own goals, but somebody else’s?

Maybe these impersonal activities, these uses of your youth, your ability to learn, and your precious and limited time on earth, are making you feel a feeling of EXHAUSTION, DREAD, or DISGUST, or BOREDOM, or HATRED.

Can take some time RIGHT NOW to PAUSE and LIST some of these “fake goals” that DON’T get you excited even though they are a LOT of work and mental energy?

In my opinion, success in life is partially about the difficult work of CUTTING OUT fake and impersonal goals from our days so that we have the crucial time for our real dreams in these brief and fast-moving human lives that we’re limited to.

This is literally a matter of LIFE and DEATH - so don’t put up with fake goals a single day longer.

Pause your reading, do a heavy brainstorm and journal yourself a list of stuff you should CUT OUT of your life because it doesn’t truly feel meaningful to you.

Takeaways for Time Management in High School

Here are a few of my final takeaway thoughts.

  • The sooner you know what you love, the better.
  • High school is NOT too early to get it figured out, as my movie-making friend Sam proved to me.
  • Don’t try to please others. It’s actually impossible, and it will never make you truly happy.
  • Your classes in high school do NOT necessarily help you discover what you love in life.

People around you do NOT necessarily help you discover what you love either, unless YOU already have a compass direction for yourself to follow - then they can rally around your sense of purpose and help you a even from a young age.

Again, think of my movie-making friend Sam as your example.

The more time you spend “researching yourself,” journaling and taking notes on your daydreams, the sooner you will discover what TRULY matters to you.

Finally, if you are serious about something, and you know what you’re talking about, you will be taken seriously even if you are young - at least by SOME teachers –

And luckily, those will be the RIGHT teachers to help you on the way to your dreams.

Pause Now And Make Progress

Now, I want you to pause and reread this entire article as well as this article if you haven’t already taken notes and made SIGNIFICANT progress towards identifying YOUR top one to five goals that I keep going on about.

That’s right, if you’re not there yet, I want you to REREAD these two articles before you go on because this is one of the most important things I’ve ever written for my students and YOU must work it out yourself –

I can’t tell you the answer from a pre-written blog article - I would if I could, but there’s just no way.

So please, pause and spend at least 15 or 30 minutes working on this now. It’s not worth rushing through this process just to get to the next article.

You need to discover, or at least GUESS based on your current personality, your top one to five goals in life and prioritize them as clearly as you possibly can.

Discover and Set Your Goals For High School

There’s NO reason to rush on through before you’ve made progress on this assignment.

Don’t fall for the trap of believing you’re too young or too inexperienced to start to figuring it out today, this very hour.

I PROMISE, the sooner you have your dreams and life goals sorted out, and the sooner you can CONFIDENTLY say “who you are”…

Then the more effectively you can manage your time even starting NOW in high school,

And the happier, more productive, and more successful you will be for the rest of your life, I PROMISE.

Share Your Dreams and Goals in High School

So, QUESTION for you before you go pause for all that stuff - and please share your answer in the comments section below:

What is YOUR number-one dream that you can start working towards in high school?

Or, if you’re like me and you can’t seem to completely narrow it down, what are your top two to five dreams or goals?

Leave us a note in the comments section to get yourself psyched up about all the great work you’re doing, and I’ll see you in the next article.

Make this year your most productive year ever! Get the complete Time Management for Teens Online Course or order the book on Amazon today.

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