"I don't have any free time." This phrase is pretty common among teens. It was something even I frequently said.

Buried under piles of calculus homework, a lengthy 12-page English paper analyzing the life of Huckleberry Finn, club meetings and household chores, I felt like any free minute I had was a luxury. Forget fulfilling my daily guilty pleasure of "Breaking Bad"; there were days when I had to choose between a shower and an extra 10 minutes of sleep.

It became normal for me to be sleep-deprived. But those days are behind me. I now get at least seven hours of sleep each night, finish all my homework and occasionally have a glorious 30 minutes to watch an episode on TV. How did I do it? I'll let you in on my secret: time management.

I used to start my school days just like most of peers -- complaining about the ridiculous amount of homework my teachers gave me. It seemed like every class was piling on assignment after assignment. I would go home, start my homework -- and by that I mean watch YouTube videos and check Instagram while my English assignment lay on my bed -- and finish way later than I should have. The next morning, I would wake up tired, half-sleep through most of my classes, go home and again go to bed late. It became a vicious cycle.

When I finally decided that this madness had to end, I looked at the problem logically. Did it really have to take me from 3:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. to finish my homework? Surely there was something wrong here. We all have that one professor who expects you to read 80 pages a night, watch a documentary, climb Mount Everest, find a cure for cancer, oh, and be prepared for a reading quiz next class. But I came to realize that it should not be taking me almost 9 hours to complete my work! As much as I wanted to blame my relentless teachers, I had to admit the that problem was, in fact, my fault. I worked hard and went to bed late as a result of my own poor planning.

So I set up rules for myself. No phone while doing homework to eliminate my urges to check Vine. Facebook: blocked off my computer. No Skype or FaceTiming my friends. Remarkably, the time it took me to do my homework was cut significantly. It's scary how much time I spent on social media. Admit it: We're all guilty of "just taking a five-minute break" and then spending an hour watching hilarious cat videos.

I also cured my procrastination habit. I stopped writing my papers the night before they were due, and started to map out my long-term assignments, apportioning a short time to work on them each day. This saved me a lot of time. I guess it does help to listen to what your crazy old teachers are saying.

It is inevitable that there will be days when you just have to stay up late. There will be a day when you have to pull an all-nighter. Every high school student goes through it, but you also shouldn't have to suffer a lack of sleep on a daily basis.

There's a solution to this, and it starts with you.

The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections. Ankita Bhanot attends Presentation High School in San Jose. Reach her at lip@bayareanewsgroup.com.