Student Stories: Balancing school with extra-curricular activities

By Bridie McArthur  

‘Balance’ is quite the buzz word; it’s what we’re supposed to be striving for, at all times. It’s fun to label myself a ‘hot mess’ but I know that I’ll still be trying to commit to everything, turn everything in on time, be there for my friends, stave off that ever-pending crying session, stay on top of world issues, learn my lines for the play and my steps for the musical, find time to write (for fun, for future, for school), listen to podcasts, tackle my ridiculously long to-read list, and find time to listen to Taylor Swift’s new album a hundred times. That was exhausting to type out! Is it even possible to balance everything? 

Is a school-work-extracurriculars-social life balance even possible? 

I read a book a few months ago called Pick Three by Randi Zuckerberg, and its premise is just that: pick three things to focus on each day. Unfortunately, you can’t do everything, so in order to achieve a semblance of a balancing act, pick three aspects of your life to focus on. Zuckerberg’s are work, sleep, family, friends, and fitness, but you can choose your own  whatever suits your lifestyle, goals, and values. 

Realistically, I can’t do all of the things I mentioned above in a single day, or week; it’s a process. I know everyone says time management is key, and I’m working on that, but I know I’m not quite there yet, and that’s okay. I keep lists (multiple, and I’m always losing them  I need to get better at that), and my number one tip for assignments is to start the day you get them, even if that’s just opening a Word doc and typing the title, or choosing your topic, or looking at one or two websites. I can listen to podcasts on 2x speed, and I read every night before bed, and I’m still go-go-go, but I make time to stop, and pause. I learned what that looks like for me during lockdown; it’s working out, it’s reading, it’s watching movies and shows. 

 It’s so important to not burn out, and sometimes that means letting a few things slide, but it also means planning your time. To-do lists will save you! So will a calendar, and a just-start-that-assignment mindset. 

I don’t think it’s entirely possible to achieve a school-work-extracurriculars-social life balance; sometimes you’ll be tilting towards extracurriculars, sometimes you’ll lean heavily towards school. That’s okay! No one ever has it 100% together all the time  we’re all a bit of a hot mess. 

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