Many students start to feel the crunch as the fall semester begins to wind down. ‘Steven, you can’t miss the soccer practice this year. We got to win!’ Even when you are pulling all-nighters to cram for the next exam, you can hear those words of your coach ringing in your ears.

How can you possibly choose your academics over extracurricular activities? The truth is, you don’t have to choose one. You can ace both the aspects of school life without going insane. If 73% of students can fetch good grades and still be enrolled in extracurricular activities, there must be away.

33% of students in the United States feel stressed because they are unable to take care of academics and extracurricular activities at the same time. I admit that over-committing can take a toll on your mental peace and physical health. You may worry about handing over a poor quality assignment to your professors or missing out on the important soccer practice. What if I tell you that the negative thoughts are just in your head? Try out these counseling tips to strike a perfect balance between your assignments and extracurricular activities.

1. Organization is the KEY

Organization is the KEY

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Did you know that the human brain is hardwired to favor routine over novelty? Routine keeps you organized. Prepare a schedule where you can fill up your important assignment submission dates and the extracurricular tasks. Keep some time aside each day for homework and studying. Prepare short or long-term goals based on your deadlines. Pamper yourself with small gifts when you achieve the goals.

You can also use apps such as 24me and Evernote, which can act as your minute-by-minute personal assistance. Write down the lectures in your notebook and go through them at least twice a day. A day planner or an agenda is also a good idea if you want to delineate your extracurricular tasks and assignments easily. How about a cheat sheet to hone your time management skills? Try out MIT, the super-handy assignment timeline sheet.

2. Take short breaks

Take short breaks

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‘Would you like to hit your books first or your punchbag first?’ If you ever get in such a situation, I would suggest you pick your extracurricular activities first. Studies have shown that physical activities improve cognitive health across the human lifespan. Stuck between choosing the cheer practice at school and completing the English assignment? Well, attend your practice sessions and then complete the assignment. Trust me. Physical exercises can help you reduce stress and focus on assignments better than your playlist on the phone.

It is okay if you are not much of an after-school athlete. Take a break for an hour while studying and focus on indoor games that you like. Try playing chess or Sudoku for the time being. Cognition, a scientific journal, reveals that taking mental breaks from studying can help you focus on other tasks better. You can renew your focus and resume your tasks after the time is over.

3. All work and no play makes anyone dull

All work and no play makes anyone dull

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It is very important that you give yourself time to relax and recharge. Follow the schedule, as mentioned in tip 1. Make sure you have some time for relaxation. You can get all the work done in the weekdays and just have a sound sleep during the weekend. Sounds fun to me, what about you? Complete at least 30% of your assignments and participate in your extracurricular activities throughout the week. You can let your mind and body recharge at the weekend.

Mid-day breaks will keep your productivity from plummeting. But, a relaxing weekend will keep your stress from skyrocketing. 69% of female students withdraw their names from the sports club due to an insurmountable pressure of assignment. This is exactly why physical fitness is absolutely important in everyone’s lives. You can go hiking or adventurous trips to rejuvenate your mind and soul. It will give you the strength to combat the stress for the rest of the week.

4. It’s okay to ask for help

It’s okay to ask for help

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In school, I refrained from sharing my problems with my counselors or teachers. I assumed they might just turn a deaf ear to my words. It was only when I blacked out while cheerleading for my school’s soccer team that my teachers understood the pressure I was going through. Learn from my mistake and don’t be a fool. Your teachers love you. Feel free to ask for assignment help. Talk to your parents if the pressure seems too overwhelming for you.

My counselor suggested me to slim down my list of clubs and activities. Instead, she asked me to go for quality activities that I have a strong passion for. It motivated me to join animation classes. It was easier for me to manage my academics and extracurricular activities because I chose something I had my heart in. The bottom line is you should ask for help whenever required.

5. Sleep works like a miracle

Sleep works like a miracle

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It doesn’t matter if you are a debate club champion or the topper of your class, the pressure of performing better haunts, everyone. Do not let the pressure compromise with your sleep. Teens should sleep for about 9 hours daily, and adults should get sleep of 7-9 hours daily. Missing sleep for the sake of grades is never a solution. Alternatively, scientists suggest students go to sleep right after studying since you are more likely to recall the material in the morning.

The latest Harvard study showed that our dreams tend to consolidate memories while we are asleep. Therefore, the giant panther chasing you in an empty forest may actually be your brain memorizing the periodic table. Instead of waking early or staying up late to complete assignments, it is better to keep a constant wake time. A constant wake time can help you with your circadian cycle.

Wrapping it up,

A student’s life is not easy. Anyone suggesting otherwise probably has never juggled between maintaining grades and extracurricular activities. Trust me when I say this, school life is going to be the best time of your life. You better not lose it in an attempt to be the Jack of all trades and master of none. Participate in activities that make you happy and finish your assignments as per the schedule. Get enough sleep and consume nutritious food.

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Many students start to feel the crunch as the fall semester begins to wind down. 'Steven, you can't miss the soccer practice this year. We got to win!’ Even when you are pulling all-nighters to cram for the next exam, you can hear those words of your coach ringing...