How do I Balance Extracurriculars and School?

As a student, I have struggled to balance sports and academics. Too often, several important tests are given the day after a long practice. However, if we manage our time wisely, we can balance the two.

Overrated as it may sound, planning ahead can help you maximize your time. Both paper checklists and electronic reminders may help you prioritize, saving hours.

Take advantage of extra time offered, such as short periods of time found throughout the day are also useful. For example, if you finish lunch 10 minutes early, start studying. Some bus rides are lengthy, giving you time to finish a simple math worksheet. Many people write this off as dead time, but keeping one or two assignments that can be done can make you more productive.

Another key aspect of being productive is working efficiently. Instead of working for several hours without a clear purpose, an hour can suffice, if you get "in the zone." Everybody has different ways to focus. I like to convince myself to focus and set rewards for myself afterward. An aspect of concentration is avoiding distractions. It is difficult to resist checking your phone and getting distracted. I use apps such as Freedom and Concentrate that can restrict you to go onto social media for a certain amount of time.

Although it's good to have extracurriculars, participating in too many activities may also be a problem. Instead of trying to stretch yourself too thin, try to pick one or two activities that you are wholly committed to. I used to spend twelve hours a week on sports, but as my school work increased, I had to adapt. Now I actively compete in ping- pong and play the violin instead of doing 12 clubs.

Balancing your extracurricular activities and school is difficult, but through adjustments and focus, it is not impossible.

-Cynthia Ruan