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Time-management advice from a Pacific student-athlete

Megan Nishimura prepares to serve during volleyball's Homecoming match against BYU.
Megan Nishimura prepares to serve during volleyball’s Homecoming match against BYU.

Balancing school and social life is no easy feat in college. Add athletics or a job and it gets even harder. I’m a member of Pacific’s volleyball team AND I hold a job on campus, so I have a bit of experience with balancing it all.    

Here is my advice for tackling time-management to find success in the classroom, on the court and in life. 

Get organized 

Our coaches give us a schedule detailing our practices, workouts and games for the week, but it’s up to me to fill the rest of my agenda up.  

I prefer to keep track of my weekly schedule and events on my Notes and Reminders apps as opposed to a calendar. They’re saved to my iCloud so I have access to them on my phone and laptop. As someone who has a busy and on-the-go lifestyle, it’s reassuring to know I always have my schedule on hand.  

I use Notes on my laptop as my planner to track assignments, practice times, job duties and any other commitments I have for the week. Long lists can be intimidating, so I keep it up-to-date and don’t include assignments too far into the future. 

For major events, I’ll use Reminders on my phone and schedule them to appear at appropriate times. Sometimes I also stick colorful sticky notes on my mirror with additional reminders, so I see them regularly and don’t miss them.  

Create a routine 

Routines help me stay on track and be efficient with my time. Like a pre-game routine, I also have a pre-work/study session routine. For example, I always eat or grab a snack before heading to my selected work environment. I rotate between a few places to get work done, including the Lair (during off hours), outside the DUC and the library. These environments help me stay focused and motivated. After my first year of college, I learned that I’m most productive during the day, so I try to complete my assignments and schedule my classes before 6 p.m. 

During the week, I also try to eat meals and be in bed around the same time every day. On some days I have lift, class AND practice, so it’s important for me to be well rested and properly fueled. 

Be proactive 

One of the easiest habits for students to pick up in college is procrastination. To avoid this, I try to be as proactive as possible. 

If we are traveling for away games, I make sure to complete as much homework as I can ahead of time. I’ll also befriend someone in the class whom I can rely on for notes or important announcements I missed during my absence. 

Communicating early is key, especially with your professors. In addition to giving them a form with the class periods and assignments I’ll miss, I send them an email a few days before my absence to remind them I’ll be gone and to show initiative. 

I avoid asking for extensions on assignments because that lures me into procrastinating. Instead, I start homework as soon as it’s assigned and begin studying for an exam a few days beforehand. Active recall and physically writing out information is the most efficient way for me to study.  

Don’t put too much on your plate 

Being a student and an athlete is a lot, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to join a lot of clubs and get involved on campus right away. Get accustomed to your schedule first and then slowly start adding more to your plate.   

I started working at Pacific after experiencing a full year-and-a-half of balancing college life and athletics. If you decide to go down that path, I recommend finding positions that are flexible enough for your lifestyle and ones that are enjoyable. You’ll have to make sacrifices, but if the pros outweigh the cons, I say go for it!  

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to have downtime to relax and reset. You can also use the couseling resources Pacific offers like CAPS or the athletic department’s new sports therapist.  

It often feels like there is never enough time in a day, but if you learn to manage your schedule well, you can make the most of it. Whether you’re an athlete or not, I hope these tips help you to rethink how you are managing your time. 

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