Life as a teenager can be chaotic, especially when trying to balance a long day at school, extracurricular activities, relationships with friends and family, and homework. To gain some control, it’s important to manage your time and maintain your health. Keeping schoolwork and deadlines organized is essential. It’s also key to understand the changes you’re going through, as well as how to keep your body energized as it undergoes those changes. Finally, living a well-rounded, balanced life will help you establish healthy habits that’ll get you through your teens and keep you in control of your life far into the future.

Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Managing Your Time

  1. Teens often have to juggle just as many responsibilities as adults. A full school day, an afterschool club, practice for a sport, and homework can add up to a 12–14 hour day, at the very least. A planner will help you keep your schedule organized.[1]
    • Before the start of each week, write down everything that you plan on or need to do.
    • Get to know yourself and how long it takes you to complete various tasks, and set your weekly plan accordingly. Be realistic about what you can actually accomplish in one day to avoid over-scheduling.
    • Putting everything on paper will help you order your time, so you can be where you need to be on time, and complete high-priority tasks before less important ones.
  2. Make daily to-do lists. Every night, write your next day’s to-dos. Use a notebook or an app on your phone or computer if you prefer. Try to complete the all of the items on the list the next day. This will help you put your task in order of importance, and help you develop a sense of commitment. Following through with what you intend to get done will get you far in life![2]
    • Note any specific chores you might have to do at home, in addition to things you have to get done at school.
    • Write down a handy reminder if you need to ask a friend or teacher something
    • List your class and activities schedule so you can plan on how much time you need to get from one place or another.
  3. Just as you set weekly and daily goals, use a calendar to help you with longer-term planning. Write important dates on it like tests, sports events, recitals, birthdays, etc. Set long term personal goals in addition to things you’re required to do:[3]
    • Think of one to five things you’d like to accomplish each school term, like learning a new hobby or, if you're old enough, learning how to drive or applying to college. Break down each goal into smaller, regular milestones or steps.
    • Be realistic about your personal goals: don’t set yourself up for failure by saying you’ll do something that’s out of your reach.
    • Write the steps in your calendar and keep track of your progress to help you develop your long-term planning.
    • Follow this same “breaking it down” procedure for requirements like tests and papers.
  4. Don't procrastinate. Try not to get sidetracked, lose your focus, or put things off until the last minute. If you procrastinate, you leave less time for back-up plans, and almost always set yourself up to be overwhelmed. Get in the habit of accomplishing a task on time, and if you say that you’re going to do something, then do it.[4]
    • Use your weekly planner, daily to-do list, and long-term calendar to help you stay on top of your tasks and projects.
    • Ask your friends to help motivate you to get things done instead of tempting you to put something off, and do the same for them.
    • Being proactive and learning early about how to get things done in a timely manner will help you stay in control later on in life, too.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Staying Healthy

  1. Your body and mind are transforming themselves. You’re full of hormones that make your emotions intense and difficult to regulate. You’re constantly in social situations at school and at home that exacerbate those emotions. Taking control of your life also means recognizing what’s out of your control: this is an awkward, rocky time in your life. It’s important to accept that.[5]
    • The neurological and hormonal changes and developments in your body can make it difficult to control and cope with your emotions. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, and out of control. Know that this is normal, and there are things you can do to help you stay healthy and cope.
    • Understand that adolescence is something everyone goes through, so don’t be too critical of yourself.
    • Don’t be too concerned about judgment from your peers or from adults. At some point, you will look silly, say something awkward, trip and fall, and so on: it's part of the deal.
  2. Growing and developing take lots of energy, and getting through a packed schedule demands even more. It’s essential to eat a well-balanced diet to fuel your growth and productivity. Never skip any meals, and always make sure to eat breakfast to get your day going on a full tank.[6]
    • Half of what you eat should be fruits and veggies. Balance the rest of your diet out with whole grains, like whole grain bread, brown rice, or oatmeal, and lean proteins, like turkey, chicken, seafood, and eggs.
    • Talk to your doctor to learn more about your specific dietary needs.
    • There’s no “right” number of calories to eat, and no universal portion size for everyone. If you’re a very active boy, you’ll need to eat more than a less active girl. Get to know your body’s needs and take this time while you’re young to establish long-lasting healthy habits.[7]
    • Teens should not go on weight-loss diets or try to lose weight by eating less unless recommended by your doctor.[8]
  3. Learn to cope with stress and manage your emotions. Your teenage years are a tumultuous time, and there will be times when you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Learning healthy, productive ways to deal with your emotions will not only help you take control of your life as a teenager, it will also set you up for success as an adult.
    • When you find yourself getting upset, try asking yourself the following questions: "What am I reacting to?"; "What about this is making me so upset?"; "Is this a fact or just an opinion?"; "Am I jumping to conclusions?"; "Am I putting more importance on this than it actually deserves?"; "Will this be important in six months?"
    • Communicate assertively. Many people wrongly think "assertive" means "aggressive." Being assertive means you clearly and respectfully express your wants and needs and that you listen and honor the opinions of others as well. Don't expect anyone to know what you want or need — if you need some space, simply ask for it. Say something like, "I'm feeling really stressed and overwhelmed right now. I need to just go to my room and be alone for a little while."
    • Learn to breathe deeply. Feeling overwhelmed may trigger your sympathetic nervous system, known as your fight or flight response. You can counteract this with diaphragmatic breathing, in which you breathe deeply into your belly. Place your hand on your stomach and feel your belly rise as you inhale for a count of five. Hold for a moment, then exhale for another five seconds. Do this until you begin to feel calm.
    • Journaling is a great way to work through your emotions and vent. Try free-writing three pages in a notebook every day. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, making sense, or even being fair. Just let loose with whatever is going through your mind at that moment (just be sure to keep this journal private).
    • Find ways to reduce your stress. Running, meditation, doing something creative, going for a bike ride, playing video games, shopping — whatever positive activity makes you feel better and less stressed, give yourself permission to enjoy it.
  4. Most teens do not get the recommended amount of sleep, which is at least nine to 10 hours a night. Remember, those changes your body is going through take a lot of energy, and you need to rest to recover. It’s okay for teens to sleep late on the weekends, so remind your parents that your oversleeping is not a sign of laziness, but something that’s necessary for your body.[9]
    • Try to go to bed and wake up at regular times. Develop a sleeping routine.
    • Don't stare at your phone or computer right before going to bed, and try to listen to relaxing music or read a book to create a good sleep environment.
  5. Being active every day can help you gain control over your changing body, keep a positive mindset, and helps you to simply have fun. It’s recommended that teens be active for at least 60 combined minutes a day, whether through physical education or gym class, participating in a sport, or riding a bike.[10]
    • Get active outside to help cut down on your “screen time,” or the time you spend on your phone, computer, or watching television.
    • Try to make exercise a social activity, or a way of having fun with friends.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Staying Grounded and Well-Rounded

  1. Decide what your priorities and values are.[11] You have to set priorities in terms of the tasks you accomplish, but you also have to prioritize your values in order to take control over your life. Decide what kind of person you want to be, and make good, conscious choices that’ll keep you in control of your life now and well into the future. Ask yourself questions such as:[12]
    • What are positive personal qualities (like loyalty, generosity, honesty, being funny, kindness, and so on) that are most important to me?
    • What kind of an attitude do I want to have? Do I want to be a positive person who loves life? How can I make that attitude a real thing through my daily choices?
    • If I drink, smoke, or take drugs, what will the consequences be for my health, wellbeing, and personal character?
    • How do I want to express myself through the clothes I wear, the words I say, how I treat people, the activities I do, and the quality of my work?
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no. You might be faced with pressure to pack your free time with extracurricular activities to good on college applications, but understand that school and homework will give you a full eight-hour day on their own. Know yourself and know what’s too much for you to maintain your productivity and sanity.[13]
    • For example, you might really like to sing and love playing soccer. If you try to do choir and play soccer at the same time, you could burn yourself out or perform poorly in both. Play soccer, then when the season's over, see if you can join the choir.
    • Ask yourself if taking the time for any after school activity or job will hurt your performance in the classroom. Your schoolwork should always be your top priority!
  3. [14] There will be many times in your teenage years when you feel overwhelmed or need advice. Ask your parents, other trusted adults, and friends to help you. Ask them to remind you of important events and to keep track of your responsibilities.[15]
    • Don’t put all your faith into other people, and don’t shirk your responsibilities, but never be afraid to ask for help or advice.
    • Keep your parents up to date about what you have due. Say: "Hey, I have this big test coming up in three weeks. Could you help me make sure I study for it? Maybe you could quiz me leading up to the test date?"
  4. Become independent. Sometimes it's tough for your parents to accept that you're growing up, and they end up taking away your sense of having control over your life. Try to understand that they mainly act out of love and a need to protect you. It's important, however, to communicate to them that you are becoming responsible and independent. The key is to let them get to know you as a young adult.[16]
    • Try spending more time out and about with your parents, like going to the mall or to stores together, out to eat, and other activities you'd normally do with friends. Show to them firsthand how you act in the outside world, that you can take care of yourself in a mature way.
    • Don't tell them that a friend's parents let them do something that you're not allowed to do. You won't get anywhere with that argument, and you'll just end up insulting their parenting style. Instead, tell them in a calm, clear way how their overprotective nature makes you feel and try to compromise with them.
    • Try writing a letter: sometimes we can express ourselves more clearly by writing. Jot your feelings down, let your parents give the note a read, and then have a mature discussion with them.
    • When you do go out with friends, stay in communication with your parents. Keep them in the loop so they worry less when you're out and about, and they'll be more likely to give you more breathing room with time.
  5. Being a teenager involves gaining independence and freedom, and it's a strange in-between time for both you and your parents. You have to respect your parents' authority, but you can also remind them that you're growing and developing your own values and opinions. It's important for everyone to be patient and use respectful language.[17]
    • Respect your household's rules and family's traditions. Your parents still lay down the law, and it's important to show them you care about the way they've decided to raise you.
    • Be clear and calm when you're talking to your parents if you want them to respect your point of view. "Mom, lemme go out with my friends!" is less likely to get a positive response than saying, "Mom, can I go to the mall with Stacy and Jill? Jill's mom would drive us there and bring us back home at eight. That will leave me enough time to finish my homework before bed." Negotiation, clarity, and specifics are key.
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About This Article

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC
Co-authored by:
Life Coach
This article was co-authored by Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC. Adrian Klaphaak is a career coach and founder of A Path That Fits, a mindfulness-based boutique career and life coaching company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also an accredited Co-Active Professional Coach (CPCC). Klaphaak has used his training with the Coaches Training Institute, Hakomi Somatic Psychology, and Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to help thousands of people build successful careers and live more purposeful lives. This article has been viewed 79,499 times.
40 votes - 90%
Co-authors: 18
Updated: August 17, 2023
Views: 79,499
Categories: Youth