When I started college, I remember feeling concerned on how I was going to stay healthy while taking rigorous classes and eating in a dining hall.
After a year of giving up on running and going to the gym when my classes got tough, I joined the women’s Rugby team at my college. This gave me motivation to stay in shape, a set schedule to work out, and an expectation to actually follow through. Plus, I made 25 lifelong friends.
While playing on a sports team is a big time commitment at school, there are ways you can balance your sport, your school work, and a job if you wish, while excelling in all three!
1. Invest in a High Quality Agenda
One of the most important strategies when it comes to juggling a lot of things is to get organized. While the Google/Apple calendar app is great to know where you need to be and when you need to be there, it does not allow you to view your schedule and your to do list side-by-side. I use virtual calendars in tandem with my agenda to ensure I have all commitments listed and at my finger-tips.
However, the agenda serves a larger purpose. Within it, I write every assignment on the day which it is assigned. I do this at the beginning of each semester and add the assignments to my to do list when it is time. For papers, I begin to write it two weeks prior to their due dates so I have adequate time to do the assignment. I try to get all of my homework done the day it is assigned so I do not have to cram or pull all-nighters. This takes commitment to my school work and discipline.
As a student, I know I cannot miss classes or assignments because I am tired or have not finished my work. On the other hand, as an athlete, I know I cannot afford to stay up all night doing work. I therefore make sure I finish all of my work by a reasonable hour.
I have set bed time hours and make sure I get a minimum of 7 hours a night even though I try to aim for 8. I wake up early if I need to finish some extra work prior to class. For me, sleep is a priority, or else my performance, both academically and athletically, suffers.
Since I play a club sport, making practice every day is a little more flexible than for the Division I athletes at my school. This being said, I have ensured there is an open line of communication between myself and my coaches in case I get overwhelmed or overworked and need a day off to catch off. I try not to do this too often or I end up not going back for a while, but sometimes it is necessary to take those two hours I would be practicing and get some of the work I have piled up done.
I also communicate with my professors. I never ask for extensions on assignments because of my sport since school comes first for me. Nevertheless, the relationship I have built with my professors is essential as I can go to them to discuss my assignments, my work load, and any questions I have about grades. This is really helpful particularly during the more overwhelming weeks of the semester.
4. Create a Routine
My days and weeks turn into a routine with moments of spontaneity. By this I mean I have created a normal routine that I follow that took about two weeks to create and perfect that allows me to accomplish all of the assignments necessary in addition to hitting the gym and going to practice. At the beginning of each week I determine how I need to tweak it to account for the peculiarities of the week.
While my overall routine is roughly the same, I leave room for random, spontaneous changes to the routine in order to hang out with my friends or relax. These are not accounted for in my routine, but typically take the space of some sleep.
Is all of this really necessary?
Overall, the trick for doing well in school and playing a sport is just to stay on top of everything. You need to be disciplined when managing your time and conscious of your time constraints. Everyone has a different method for accomplishing this.
It may seem overwhelming, but the rewards are endless: a health body, health mind, good grades and great friends are just some of the benefits of being involved in athletics. Not only that, but employers love to hear that you know how to manage your time, persevere through overwhelming moments, and stay true to your commitments.
Stay true to your passions and enjoy yourself! However, if you find that your sport no longer becomes fun or satisfying it may be time to decide to end it in order to make room for activities and interests that are more meaningful.
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