Managing Schoolwork as an Athlete

Student athletes who want to excel on the field and in the classroom can feel like they are facing an uphill battle, with coaches, parents, teachers, and friends putting demands on their time. It can seem like there is not enough time in the day to do everything you need to do. And when pressured to give more time to practice or to social events, schoolwork can take a back seat. 

The good news is that by learning how to manage your time, you can be a successful student and athlete. Effective time management consists of (1) setting priorities and goals, (2) getting organized, (3) creating a schedule (and sticking to your schedule), and (5) tracking your progress and making changes as needed. If you learn how to manage your time and develop the discipline to stick to your schedule you will be on the fast track to achieving your goals.

Your priorities are the things that are important to you. You will need to think hard about this and rank them in order. If you find yourself short on time you may need to pick a higher priority over a lower one. Having a good sense for your priorities ahead of time will make it easier to decide how to manage your time when unexpected things happen that can impact your schedule.

Your goals are what you want to accomplish. For example, “I want to make As in my classes this semester” or “I want to spend four days a week training for my sport.” After you set your goals come up with an estimate of how much time per week it will take you to achieve them. You will use these estimates to create your schedule.

You’ll also want to get organized, if you are not already. Organized means downloading a calendar app for your phone or buying a paper planner to use during the week. You can write your schedule, homework assignments and other notes in your planner, to keep track of what you need to do and when. Also organize your schoolwork, by using a binder with tabs–one for each class–so you can quickly and easily find notes to study for quizzes and tests and also to keep your homework assignments in order.

For your schedule, start with a weekly calendar and block time for your fixed events. These are things like class and sports practice, which are mandatory. Next you need to schedule time for eight hours of sleep each night, and for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also allow time for getting ready in the morning and some downtime as well. Now take your goals and add the time to your schedule that you estimate you will need to accomplish them. This is your core schedule that you can use as a basis for managing your time during the week.

Once your schedule is complete, you are ready to use it. Do your best to stick to the schedule and track your progress. If you find that some activities take longer than planned, are there ways you can do them with less time? If not can you make changes to your schedule that allow for the extra time? If you are off schedule, try to figure out why and make changes sooner rather than later.

Also, find someone who can help keep you on track. A BeWell staff member, for example, would be happy to help you. You can check in with your schedule partner on a weekly basis to report on your progress and also to ask for tips and advice on how to make changes, if you are having a difficult time meeting your goals.

Once you find a schedule that works for you and you stick to it on a regular basis, you will start to see results. You will also find that your days are less stressful, and you should be well on your way to achieving your goals in school and as an athlete.


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