As an athlete who is also going to school, you have to be pretty darn good at managing your time. You’re juggling homework, practice, family, friends, and hopefully some “you” time, which is no easy feat. In high school, I would go straight to practice from school and by the time I got home it would be close to 8:30pm. It was important for me to get good grades in school so I learned how to use my time wisely and balance my many priorities. At one point in my synchro career I was training, coaching, attending grad school and commuting to San Francisco for an internship. How the heck did I do all of this? I got freaking good at managing my time.
Let me be clear - it wasn’t easy. BUT, I knew that I had big dreams and that I would need to hustle in order to reach them. I see a lot of athletes struggle with juggling multiple things, especially as they reach high school and their homework load increases dramatically. Here are a few tips on how to become an expert at time management:
1) Figure out your priorities
Deciding what is most important to you is key in leading a balanced life. For most of my synchro career, school was still #1, so I put my studies first no matter what. It’s normal for your priorities to change throughout time, but take the time to think about what your main focus is at this point in time and make a list of priorities in descending order. In high school, mine was school, synchro, family commitments, social life (that list looks very different now!). Once you know what your top priorities are, it’ll make it easier to manage your time because you’ll know what activities you should be prioritizing. When you are crunched for time, you’ll know what to cut out - usually the last thing on your priority list - and what to give your attention to. It’s also important to remember that something always has to give, whether that’s missing a school dance or coming late to a birthday party. In order to reach any goal, there will always be a trade-off, but that’s okay! The things you sacrifice are always worth it when you accomplish your goals. I actually have a lot more to say about “having it all”, but I’ll save that for another post :)
2) Get ahead of it
I’m not going to pretend that I was not a procrastinator - I definitely was, and had many late nights scrambling to finish something that I had weeks to work on. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten better at not putting off important tasks and it has saved me a lot of stress and worry. This is where having your priorities in order comes in handy. Start on your most important task and then move on to less important ones. If you’re tackling a big project that seems daunting, don’t put off starting just because it seems overwhelming. Figure out what needs to be done, make a timeline for yourself and start chipping away at it bit by bit. Make it a goal for yourself to finish your work early and see how good it feels to not have to scramble at the last minute!
3) Time batch
I used to pride myself on being a multitasker. I would be watching a TV show while writing an essay, checking social media and eating at the same time (anyone else with me here??). I thought I was being SO productive because I was doing multiple things at once. It was only a few years ago that I realized that this strategy is actually extremely inefficient because it takes forever to get any one task done. Instead, batching your time into segments where you focus on one thing for an extended period of time helps you focus and get the task done much quicker. Instead of having your mind jump around from one thing to another, you will get in a flow and work more efficiently. So set a timer for one hour, crank out that essay, and then set another timer to clean your room for another hour. This strategy will work wonders for your productivity!
If you have any other tips for managing your time, I’d love to hear them!