By: Caroline Pietrick

With school just beginning, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my helpful tips for managing your academics, social life, and athletics. As an avid soccer player myself, I know that it is challenging to keep a good balance of all three of these things, but with grit, determination, and some downtime, it is totally possible to have a good balance.

When I start my homework, I give my phone to my parents. It helps to keep me focused on school instead of checking my Snapchat and Instagram constantly. My parents will not give me my phone back until I finish one class’ homework. When I am done, I have five or so minutes to see if I missed anything (which I usually haven’t) and then return the phone back to them to start another subject. If your parents are not around to give your phone to, do not stress. Place your phone across the room. This helps to still give you separation from it while still knowing where it is at all times, for those of us who have cell-phone separation anxiety.

While we’re on the topic of phones, I suggest you turn off all of your notifications on your electronics that are required for homework. This will help you stay focused for a longer period of time and will eliminate distractions from your friends.

If you are like me, you may need some type of music or sound playing in the background in order to work well. I have found that making a study playlist or finding a playlist which contains unfamiliar songs will help keep me focused. Instead of trying to sing along to my favorite Drake song, I still have the sound I need, but I am able to stay focused on my work.

Another important thing is to not do your homework or study in your bed. I know it is tempting to bundle up in a nice, cozy blanket with your history notes. However, studies have shown that sleeping and studying in the same place mixes up signals in your brain. This may cause your brain to want you to sleep while studying or vice versa. Try having space in your house that you designate to only do homework in. Separating sleep and studies will help improve both of these important aspects of your life.

Sleep is very crucial to maintaining good health. Health is extremely important, as if you are not in good health, you cannot do sports, go to school, or hang out with friends. Sleep also refreshes you and gives you time to relax. Instead of cramming for that test you have the first period tomorrow, study for twenty minutes and then go to bed. Sleep will help you more than cramming and will improve your mood the next day.

Another common trait in students is the tendency to procrastinate. We all do it. It is very tempting to do. Getting lost in your Instagram explore page or watching another episode of your favorite Netflix show, which leads to the next, and so on. Try working for 55 minutes at a time and taking a 5-minute break. During the break, you can check your phone, get a snack, or squeeze in some Netflix. It is good to take breaks when doing homework, however, spacing out your breaks and timing them allows you to stay on task and finish at a decent time.

One of the biggest things I want to emphasize is working ahead when you have time and using your syllabi to your advantage. There is a reason that your teachers plan out all of their lesson plans and homework. If you have learned enough material in class to complete the homework, cut out thirty minutes of your Netflix time to work on it. You will be grateful that you got the homework done when you had time instead of staying up late after a sports practice trying to finish it.

Use your study halls and free periods wisely. It is so easy to go hang out with your friends in the student center, but the next time you are free, try sitting in the library. You will get more done and be thankful you got your homework done during the day instead of late at night.

A rule that my parents have enforced for me pertains to my social life. Before I can hang out with friends on the weekend, I must complete some sort of homework. This doesn’t usually mean all of it, however, I have to do a significant amount. I appreciate this rule because it does not allow me to procrastinate my homework until Sunday evening.

It is proven that studying each of your subjects for fifteen to twenty minutes a day helps improve your academics and performance on assessments. Take an hour each day and split all of your subjects up. Go through your notes, make flashcards or a Quizlet, and try to familiarize yourself with the topics.

If you are able to work in the car or on the bus, do it. This is wasted time you use to send streaks, open Snaps, and check Instagram. Doing homework in the car will provide you with more downtime at home to do more things. I know that some people can’t work in the car, but you can still be organizing your studies or planning out your night.

Making a list helps me to feel accomplished after I finish an assignment. I will write down everything that I must do for tomorrow on one list, and on another list, I will write down a list of tasks to complete if I have extra time to get ahead. When I complete one of the tasks on my list, I cross it off. By crossing things off, I feel like I am getting work done and being productive.

Sports are big parts of a lot of our lives. Whether that is HB athletics or sports outside of school, they take up many hours of our day during the school week. Balancing your homework with sports can prove to be a challenge sometimes, however, your schooling has to come first. Your coaches will understand if you have to miss one practice to study for a big exam the next day, or need more time to work on your homework.

Hopefully, if you have made it to the end of this article, you have learned a couple study skills that you can use in your own life to better your studies and balance your schoolwork with your sports and social life.