From a Teen’s Perspective: No more “bad days”

by Dylan Lanier on November 21, 2023

We all know the feeling: You wake up and your hair’s a mess, your favorite t-shirt is nowhere to be found, you don’t have time for breakfast, and you forget your lunch at home. You decide that it’s going to be a bad day and prepare for all the other inconveniences yet to come.

The “bad day” premonition can be extremely difficult to counteract. You only look for things that go wrong, warping your perception and confirming your self-assertion that today would be subpar.

And when we have “bad days,” we self-destruct in a variety of ways. We lash out at friends and family, struggle to complete our work, and spread negative energy. In today’s column, I want to share one method (introduced to me by TikTok) that I use to break out of the “bad day” feeling and stay positive and productive even in the face of perceived obstacles.

The trick is to divide your day into three-hour intervals. For example, if you wake up at seven in the morning, your intervals would be seven to 10, 10 to one, one to four, four to seven, seven to 10, and then 10 to whenever you hit the hay.

It’s important to completely separate the intervals in your mind. Treat your day as a collection of parts rather than one large period of time.

This ideology allows you to break out of a bad day funk because you are no longer within the constraints of a day. Your day can’t be “bad” because it’s not a day; instead, individual intervals can be mediocre, and you can reset at the beginning of each one.

Seeing things this way allows bad emotions to slide off instead of cling on. Say you have a stressful morning but already agreed to go to lunch with a friend. Instead of wearing your negativity like a cloud throughout the meal, you can treat it like a fresh start and allow yourself to experience it with more of an objective mindset, not chalking it up to “good” or “bad” based on what preceded it.

Additionally, this way of thinking can help you be more productive. Instead of surrendering to the idea of an “unproductive day” and deciding that you can’t work, give yourself an interval to relax and then begin your project so you feel fresh and motivated.

You can also use your intervals as deadlines and rewards. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I need to finish this sometime today” (which typically means it won’t get done), you can say instead, “I need to finish this in the three-hour window between 10 and one.” That way, you’re narrowing down the time frame for your work, which often makes it feel like an easier and more concrete item on your to-do list. And when you complete that work, you can allow yourself to rest or have some fun during the next interval.

This method can take time to get used to and may require some trial-and-error to determine the interval schedule that makes you feel the happiest and most productive. But with some concentrated effort and diligent practice, you can avoid the idea of a “bad day” altogether and better focus on your well-being and your goals.

Got any topics you want me to cover? Email with your requests!

Dylan Lanier is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School; his column appears weekly.

Stock photo from Freepik

One Comment

Karen November 23, 2023 at 6:47 pm

This article provides excellent advice and is well written! We decide how our days go. Thank you, Dylan, for sharing your insights and practical tips. Bravo!

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