The life of a student-athlete can be gratifying, but it can also bring a lot of stress and difficulty. Student-athletes must balance sports, deadlines at school, time with family and friends, and space for their own mental health. This can be very draining but can also help push you to the next level. Time management for student-athletes doesn’t have to be exceedingly difficult, especially if you incorporate a few techniques and tricks to make your time spent trying to balance much more achievable. Let’s talk about some strategies that have demonstrated proven success.
1. Communicate well
As a student-athlete, the single-most critical aspect of success in time management is communication. It can be as simple as emailing a teacher that you won’t be present in class on a specific day because of a tournament and asking what the best way to make up the material is. Good communication will show them your dedication to success, and you’ll both be able to come to an agreement on which next steps to take. Communication can be over text, email, a phone call, or even in person. You just want to make sure you clearly convey what you may be missing, what you need help on, etc.
Communication can be daunting and a difficult skill to master. I found it best to start simple by building relationships with teachers and coaches early on and demonstrating to them your hard work and dedication while also being clear with what other aspects are present in your life. Building these connections early will help you down the road; you’ll often find that teachers, coaches, or whomever you’re attempting to connect with tend to be very accepting and understanding. Also, over-communicating is better than not communicating enough, as this will help you all be on the same page and become clear with everyone’s expectations.
2. Use your resources
In this day and age, we have access to so many different resources that benefit our time management. Some highly useful tools include planners, which come in both digital and hand-held formats. Keeping a planner can help you see your whole schedule and keep track of what practices, games, and events you may have and what other activities you have to complete. They often include space for to-do lists, but if not, those are also highly favorable to write down. They’ll help you remember all the little tasks you have and see what you must do, which can calm an overwhelmed mind.
Google Calendar and other virtual tools are valuable for student-athletes as well. You can share them with your family and friends, and you almost always have your phone on you, so it’s nice to see what events you have coming up. Google Calendar can also send alerts about events, which are good reminders that can keep you from overbooking your life or planning too much at the same time. Another helpful resource are apps that prevent you from looking at your phone. Time is precious as a student-athlete, and there are oftentimes when you need to put your phone away to focus solely on school or your sport. There are tons of apps available to help you focus, including white noise apps and Forest, an app that grows virtual trees depending on how long you stay off your phone. These tools reward you and give you a sense of accomplishment for your focus.
3. Take time for yourself
As a student-athlete, you don’t often focus on spending quality time with yourself. You always have a ton going on, and it can become overwhelming. Balance is highly important, and within this balance, you should include time for yourself. You’ll become more productive with the time given to you if you allow yourself to have breaks occasionally, such as going for a walk or grabbing lunch with a friend. These are productive uses of your valuable time, and in the long run, they’ll help you feel more balanced and fulfilled. Give yourself space to enjoy the aspects of life you love outside of your sport and school.
Life as a student-athlete is tough. It will push and drag you down if you don’t manage your time effectively. Utilizing resources as well as clearly engaging in communication and dedicating time for yourself are just three techniques that can help you become a better manager of your life. Time seems to run quickly and uncontrollably, but you have the power to manage it more productively with these techniques.
Find other helpful tips and tricks for student-athletes of all levels in our College Athletics section.