Opinion: 24 hours is not enough for my needs and wants

Before I get started: No, I am not blaming the 24-hour day for not having enough time to fit all of my daily needs and wants nor am I making a petition to the universe to make each day 40 hours long. 

The problem with not being able to fit every task and responsibility into a daily schedule is largely intrinsic — at least for me — and I know that it depends on the individual to change things and alleviate the stress. Nevertheless, even with the solution sounding seemingly easy and straightforward, it’s much more complicated. We all have standards to uphold and responsibilities to fulfill — otherwise many people would have already implemented the solution, and this wouldn’t be a real conflict for anyone, including myself.

I divide all my responsibilities, tasks and activities into three main categories: academics, family and personal leisure. The list and their respective subcategories can differ from person to person, but the point is that these three areas seem to fight for the limited space in my daily schedule, similarly to how empires fight over territories. As a result, there will always be some nasty overlapping in my plans that result in conflict.

There is only so much I can do before it’s time to sleep, and as a result of not being able to crunch everything in my schedule, more work piles up for the next day. Academics and school activities take up the majority of my day, and depending on my clubs and classes, they can provide a steep pile of extra work that cuts into my afternoon. At home, there is a demand from my family to spend time together or do household chores, and I personally want to enjoy media, exercise or go to sleep early in my leisure time.

Over the past year, the philosophy I’ve developed for myself is that I can only choose two of the three categories to commit to and be negligent of the third one for that day. Because of the concrete circumstances of only having a 24-hour day and school lasting roughly eight hours, I feel like there isn’t much I can do instead. 

Sure, I could only sleep for two hours a night or take easier classes, but those are things I have no interest in. If I have to complete a mound of homework and am demanded to do chores, it means I have to skip out on some Disney+ or sleep late, as I’m already a professional procrastinator and get sidetracked easily. However, if I choose academics and personal leisure over family, then I disappoint my parents by not doing chores and am regarded as lazy. It’s a lose-lose battle.

I believe I am hardly alone in this conflicting situation because it affects all of us to some extent. Although it may not be apparent to others, I cannot exaggerate the distress and mental toll this dilemma can have on individuals. Imagine constantly lacking sleep or getting called lazy as you are writing pieces for a publication, taking AP classes and fulfilling club activities. 

This piece is not intended to undermine all the people who sacrifice more than I do and are pursuing more difficult goals or partaking in harder classes. I’m not even working a job for crying out loud. So I have a lot of respect for those extraordinary individuals. 

I also understand my argument isn’t a universal opinion that everyone can relate to. Some might have school or family as a part of their personal leisure and might not need a lot of sleep or media consumption, but now and then, we all have to pay our dues by sacrificing something we wanted or had to do in order to get through the day. 

In circumstances like this, there is not really a suitable solution. I’m sure someone could make their lives easier by implementing a little change, but for the majority of us, this will stay as an unmanageable situation that can arguably just be called life.