Managing your time is difficult enough when you’re a student, but it’s even more challenging when you’re an athlete. From heading to the courts for regular sports practices to juggling homework and extracurricular activities, if you aren’t being deliberate about balancing your schedule, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. While it seems difficult to do, it’s certainly not impossible. Here are some practical ways to manage your time as a student-athlete.
Assess yourself based on what you accomplish
Some people get caught up with the feeling of being busy without even accomplishing anything. Instead of focusing on busyness, it’s much more productive to assess yourself based on how much you accomplish within the time you have. Focusing on what you have to achieve within a given period will keep you from feeling too overwhelmed and help you make the most of your time.
Plan your class hours strategically
Plan accordingly when choosing your courses for the semester. While booking an interesting class or a great professor is certainly important, it won’t mean much if you can’t even attend the class because you’re on your way to a game or if you have practice during those hours. Work around your schedule as an athlete and prioritize choosing classes that fit your agenda.
Take advantage of travel time
Like most student-athletes, you probably spend a lot of time traveling on buses and staying in hotel rooms. Instead of sleeping during the whole drive up to the hotel or procrastinating in your room, you should take advantage of all that free time to tackle your school work — whether that be answering your assignments or reviewing for a test. However, since it’s also an opportunity for you to bond with your team, don’t forget to make time for socializing, as well. Finish your work early so you can get out and spend time with your teammates.
Pair up with an accountability partner
In all likelihood, your teammates may be experiencing the same pressures and difficulties that you are with balancing school and work. Some of them may have difficulty when it comes to managing their time too. An accountability partner is someone who can keep you in check and hold you accountable for your goals. By pairing up with someone who’s also trying their best to take control of their schedule, both of you can help each other accomplish what they need to do and resist the urge to procrastinate.
Learn to prioritize your tasks
The best way to tackle an intimidating to-do list is to learn how to prioritize certain tasks over others. Time-sensitive tasks and crucial tasks should be bumped up to the top and tackled first before anything else. If you find it difficult to get started, try finishing quick and easy responsibilities first to jump-start your momentum, then move on to more important things.
Set your own personal deadlines for projects and assignments
As soon as you receive the syllabus for all your classes, take note of all the important dates and deadlines, and match them up with your athletic schedule. Set your own personal deadlines for projects and assignments that are much earlier than the intended due date. This gives you more time to finish everything so that you don’t have trouble with any deadlines.
Rely on a planner
Keep all your important dates and notes in one place with a planner or a calendar. This is a great way to remind yourself of crucial tasks and to help you retain this information in your memory much more effectively. You can either do this by keeping a physical agenda where you can write everything down manually, or you can download a scheduling and calendar app on your phone or computer instead.
Take it one step at a time
Don’t fixate too much on the entirety of your massive to-do list. Focus on tackling it one task at a time, and dedicate all your energy to finishing just that. Once you’ve accomplished that responsibility, you move on to the next one, and so on.
Give yourself time to rest
As soon as you finish a task, take the time to rest for a few minutes and stretch out your limbs. You may even reward yourself with a small snack. While it may seem tempting to just keep going until you can’t anymore, short breaks like this help you keep working efficiently for longer and prevent you from burning yourself out. Exhausting yourself will only make you less able to complete other tasks and may even compromise your athletic performance.
Being a student-athlete can be incredibly difficult, but also extremely rewarding. The most challenging thing about it is striking a balance between your life as a student and an athlete. These practical tips will hopefully help you manage your time wisely.