Picture this: it’s Monday morning at 6:00 am. The sun hasn’t even come up yet, but you’re already awake and making your way to practice. You’re thinking about the nap you so desperately want to take after you’ve finished working out, but you remember that right after your workout you have to rush to class. In the short break you have after class, you’ll probably only have enough time to eat before you repeat the practice-to-class cycle. You console yourself with the thought that Friday will come, and you can actually get some rest. But there’s one crucial thing you’re forgetting: it’s the middle of the season, so you’re travelling on Friday and Saturday, and you have to wake up early on Sunday to study for that big test next Monday...
You’re not a regular student. You’re a college athlete, and you barely have any time to yourself, let alone time to slack off. College athletics are demanding, and you have to put in extra effort every day to do things that regular college students find easy.
It’s not all bad—being a student-athlete has some amazing benefits that make the time commitment all worth it. For example, you get to be with teammates who end up becoming your best friends, and you get to travel and see places you otherwise might never see. If you’ve chosen to compete in this sport at the collegiate level, you must have a passion for it. And you get to excel at the sport you’re passionate about every day.
It’s no secret that college athletics are a huge commitment, but there’s one fool-proof way to balance your academic and athletic lives without becoming overwhelmed. The secret lies in time management.
I know we’ve heard it all before, that college is all about time management. But this is when time management becomes most crucial. You’re not a regular student, and you have a limited number of hours in the day to complete all your tasks. There’s no time to slack off or say “I’ll do it later,” because chances are you’re going to be exhausted from your day and probably won’t do it later.
The most important part about balancing your schedule is utilizing all your downtime productively. Instead of taking a nap when you have a break, get some of your homework or studying out of the way. As a student-athlete myself—balancing an internship, sports, and an academic schedule—I’ll share the technique that’s helped me the most. Treating my day as a nine-to-five (or on some days a six-to-five) works best for me. For example, if I have a break between my classes and practice, I’ll use that time to study or complete homework assignments instead of relaxing or hanging out with friends. The point of this system is to get most of your work done by 5:00 pm, so you can “clock out” and have some free time later in the day.
Getting as much of your work/studying done during your nine-to-five day gives you a schedule with some flexibility after hours. You can use those free hours to relax your mind and body for a while before you decide to do other things like watch your favorite TV show or hang out with friends.
I didn’t develop this system initially, but after my first semester of being constantly exhausted by all the work I had and the lack of sleep I was getting, I realized something had to be done. If having a nine-to-five system works for you, great! But if you try it and don’t love it, figure out what works with your schedule. Maybe you need to put studying into your schedule like you put in time for class and practice. Or maybe you need to wake up an hour earlier to get your work done. Creating a system that works for you is the most important thing you can do when attempting to balance your hectic life as a student-athlete.
How do you balance your time as a student-athlete? Let us know in the comments!