Managing School Work

Managing School Work

Stevie D. Rosenfeld, Author

     Nobody’s perfect; there are some things you’re not gonna be good at, there are some things other people won’t be good at, and there are things that nobody’s good at. One of these things is time management. At one point or another, everyone has procrastinated, forgotten an event, missed a deadline, or just poorly planned something. No one’s ever going to be able to perfectly manage their schoolwork, but you don’t have to be perfect; you’ve just gotta make it work. That’s what this article is about, making your schoolwork and your schedule work for you. 


     Every “self-help” article written by a suburban mom trying to control their teenagers contains the famous piece of fix-all advice: “Buy a planner!”

     Hate to break it to you, but planners don’t fix everything. I reality, you’re not gonna break lifelong habits with a notebook. But a notebook could be a step in the right direction. A major issue in planning is that people lose consciousness of when things are happening. This phenomenon is called “Time Blindness.” Essentially, when something is due next week, in one’s mind it is perpetually due next week. No matter how much time passes, no matter how close you get, part of you is still stuck in the idea that the assignment doesn’t have to be done until next week. It’s this part that tells us we “have plenty of time,” and we’ll “do it tomorrow,” and best of all that we “work better under pressure.”

     Luckily, there is a way to beat Time Blindness, and that is simply to keep seeing. By keeping yourself conscious of due dates and assignments, you can learn to manage your time wisely. What keeps those dates real to you could be any number of things; maybe it is a planner, or maybe its post-it notes, or phone reminders. If these traditional methods don’t help, there are some more unorthodox techniques. Many people find that leaving things in strange places is a good reminder. For example, if you leave your textbook in the fridge, next time you go for a drink you’ll remember the test you have to study for. But it’s important that these places change often, otherwise the objects become a part of the background and Time Blindness sets in again. 

    Another time management issue is procrastination, but many people suffer from something more serious called Executive Dysfunction. Executive Dysfunction is very complicated, but in essence it prevents you from starting new tasks no matter how much you want to. Whether it’s homework or getting a snack, Executive Dysfunction prevents you from moving from one task to another; you may just sit there thinking “I have to move, I have to move, I have to move,” without ever actually moving.

     A simple but difficult trick to deal with procrastination and Executive Dysfunction is to not engage in distracting activities. While this may sound cliche, it can be effective. Once you’ve said to yourself “I’ll start working after I watch this show,” you’ve declared that you’ll never stop watching the show. But if you say “I’ll watch a show after I’m done working,” you’ve made the decision to get to work and stopped your own procrastination in its tracks. 

Sports and Clubs

    Nowadays, colleges don’t think it’s good enough to be a good student; you have to be a good student, strong athlete, active community member, participant of school clubs, and have a relative understanding of the arts. Yeah, it’s a lot. And though it’s incredibly difficult, it is possible to manage schoolwork, sports, and clubs. The first step, of course, is planning. As stated earlier, you need to make yourself aware of the work to be done and budget your time accordingly. The second step is far more difficult because though anyone can make a plan, it takes a master to follow through. It’s easy to say “I’ll get up early and do it then,” but do you ever actually do it? If you know you have a club or practice at a certain time, you need to account for your schoolwork ahead of time. Sports, clubs, and school will all be easier to manage if you admit to your limits. You have to know when you’ll be tired after practice, you have to know when that club is gonna run late, know when you’ll be going out after a game. Most importantly, you have to know yourself. Admit when you’re not going to have time or when you simply won’t want to do something at another time, and do it now. Sooner’s always better than later.

Making Time

     Managing sports and clubs can be done, but it is difficult, and in some cases just not possible. Though some people disagree, school should be for learning, and extracurriculars should take a backseat to important work. If you find yourself struggling to stay on top of works because of games or meetings, you may have to find a way to make more time. This could mean talking to your coach about leaving practice early or asking a club advisor to miss a few meetings.

     But, as stated earlier, everyone is different; so it’s natural that their club requirements, team duties, course load, and stress management skills are different too. If you find yourself underperforming in class, falling behind on homework, or teetering on the edge of breakdown, you may have to consider dropping something to make time for important things. Whether that means quitting a team, enrolling in an easier course, or leaving a club, you have to do what’s best for you. Decide what matters most to you, figure out what will make you more productive, and do what you have to to make time for the really important things. 


There is one major goal to managing schoolwork, and that is to eventually have no school work. When you do achieve your goals, turn in your assignments, or just find that you have some downtime, appreciate it. Take this time to rest and do something fun; play a video game, watch a movie, eat a snack, hang out with friends, or whatever makes you happy. If you don’t relax when you can, recover from weeks of work and stress, your next step isn’t gonna be your best work. You’re either gonna start falling behind or burnout. So really, the best thing you can do to make your mountains of work more manageable is to breathe, make a plan, and follow through. When you’re done, breathe again, make a new plan, and follow through. If you maintain this cycle, and “keep on keeping on”, everything will turn out alright.