8 Tips on How to Juggle Academic and Extra-curricular Activities

I’d like to go back to a post that I made last year, wherein I stated what happened during my MIA and how I had thought that I would never survive from it.

Last year, during my senior year in college, I was the president of an active academic organization in our university. In all honesty, it wasn’t advisable to lead an organization if you are at your last year in college, because the senior workload is borderline ridiculous—and everybody knew that. Ridiculous in a way that at some point, you’d like to ask your professors if they still see you as a human being!

But then there I was, a few months in the new semester, even if bombarded with responsibilities, I was still doing fine. Well, most of the time, at least. Haha.

So fast forward, then came all the preparation for August. This month is probably the most difficult month in the whole school year, because it is the month when we celebrate our founder’s day/week, and that is what we call, the HIBALAG Booth Festival.

Hibalag is a Bisaya word meaning “to come together” or “to meet up.”

The Hibalag Booth Festival is usually a 10-11-day celebration marked with booth set-ups, wherein students showcase their different organizations, festooned with their org achievements and notable events and cause supported. This festival is also celebrated with different performances, variety shows, games, and a lot of festive music.

ctto: Hibalag by WillFreeDo (Official Music Video Silliman University Hibalag Festival 2015) (Hibalag Booth Festival Theme Song)

People from all over the province and country (and even, the world—because of the alumni) frolic around the festival’s vicinity to hang-out with friends, watch the shows, tour the booths, and eat some delicious delicacies from various food stalls in the perimeter. The fun usually starts in the late afternoon (so hello, night life!), and the place is always jam-packed with people enjoying their break from the 8-5 life.

It’s really a festive celebration, but the amount of hard work for the preparation was HUGE and intense!

I remember crying in my room because of just too much work to do–not to mention the week before Hibalag was our midterm exams week! My mind was all over the place. I had a lot of problems with our booths, programs we’d host, and even, with my co-officers. Not many of us were really active that week before Hibalag because every one of us, officers, was busy with exams—it was understandable. Still, as president, I was left with the dirty work, so I had no choice but to carry that burden while studying and taking my exams.

Now, I will share some tips on how I managed all those things, while still, thank God, acing my exams. (Well, most of them! hehe). This post deems fitting because the Hibalag Booth Festival 2017: Hibalag Nightfall has officially started last Sunday, and I know a lot of people are also preparing to go back to school next month–or late this month– so hopefully this will be useful!

8 Tips on How to Juggle Academic and Extra-curricular Activities

Plan out everything the month before

If you are an officer of an organization, it’s advisable that you have already a plan at least two months before the start of the school year.

It doesn’t have to be a very detailed plan, it can be a list of what activities you will hold in each month and what events your organization usually participates in. Each of the activities on your list must be put together with their purpose and objectives you like to achieve. You must be clear about them, and must make certain that they align with your organization’s mission and vision.

Then a month before the activity, you can now go into detail and list all the things needed for it. Have one meeting dedicated for brainstorming and bench-marking from previous years on the kind of preparation to do for the events, and then delegate the tasks.

For example, you’d like to hold an event, such as a Lip Sync Battle.. You’d brainstorm what to prepare and set a timeline for it. Identify who to coordinate with the sound system, the stage, and the marketing of the event. You also need to consider the finances, the sponsors, the prizes, and the mechanics. Set that meeting a month before the actual event, and have follow-up meetings once a week for the succeeding weeks.

At the beginning of the school year, scrutinize every single detail of your class syllabus. I usually immediately go over to the part where the professor states his/her grading system. If there is a course paper equivalent to 30% of your grade, then ask the professor right away for the deadline, so you can take note of it and set a timeline for it as well.

 

Keep a planner and update it at all times

Find a planner that you’re comfortable with; that you’d think you’d be productive with and not be distracted by it.

In college, I went with a black planner that didn’t have much distraction, such as drawings, quotes, and garish colored pages. Basically, I used a planner that screamed “serious business” to have that psychological trick to get me productive. I am not saying this as a general fact, it’s just that it worked for me. I also like to recommend planners that have a monthly spread and weekly spread, as well as several pages at the back for notes.

Now that you know the deadline of your course paper as mentioned above, go to the monthly spread and mark that goddamn date. Then mark another date that you need to start working on it, preferably three weeks before– but it depends on what type of school work it is.

Another thing that is a must as well during the start of the school year is to scrutinize the university school year calendar. Dedicate a free time to mark your planner with important dates, such as prelims, midterm, finals week, and other deadlines you need to put in your planner. For lists of things to do, use the weekly spread. I think using two pen colors will suffice so it won’t look too contradicting. Use one color for your academic-related tasks and another color for your extra-curricular related tasks.

 

Set out your day the night before

Always take note of things (this is crucial for me because I’m forgetful!), such as new meetings, assignments, tasks, etc. so at the end of the day you can work on them and you’ll know what to plan for the next day.

As what Marie Forleo had said, the 4-minute method to massive productivity is by planning our day the night before. List down the things you need to do for the next day, and make certain that you do the creative work first or the big things so you’ll have to scratch it off your list right away. We are generally more creative in the early morning, so we need to maximize that energy and use it to tackle down those more important things on our list. Also, then you’ll feel one heavy burden off your shoulders so you’ll be more motivated to scratch off the remaining items on your list for the rest of the day. With a smile!

 

Set a portion of your time solely to Acads

I usually get home at around 8-something in the evening, because of school works or extra-curricular activities, so I’d be at my desk at around 9-something. I’d scroll through social media for a while, and then I’d prepare my stuff and be disconnected from everything around me. Tip for this, put your phone on airplane mode or just put it on silent mode; turn off Wifi and put your phone somewhere out of reach. I like to do extra-curricular related tasks first so when I’d be reading my books, I wouldn’t be distracted by the nagging voice inside my head to do this and that. So after 10pm, I’d do my school works until I’m done with them. And that is basically why I was a sleep-deprived student. Hahah.

Remember: Academics first!

 

Be ready with a playlist

Music helps solve everything! It was (and still) my go-to whenever I feel emotionally unbalanced, so it is really helpful if you have a playlist for everything—especially when you’re feeling anxious! When I’m studying, I usually just go to rainymood because I just loved the sound of pouring rain. Classical piano music also works magic in me. It helps me focus because I wouldn’t be distracted by singing along with it like I always do whenever I listen to songs while studying.

 

Have two SIMs or two phones

This is not really advisable, but this was what I did before. My phone supports dual sims, so I had a sim for “work” (haha) and for personal use. It was a way for me to organize my calls/messages, thoughts, and responsibilities so they won’t be mixed together because if that had happened, I’d gone loco already.

 

Surround yourself with student leaders or non-apathetic friends

In order for you to keep going, you need to be with people who are heading to the same direction as you. There were friends that I used to always hang-out with way before, but when I was focused with all my responsibilities last year, I hung out with them less and less, and I started hanging out and being with my other friends who were active in school and have the same line of values and responsibilities as mine. They kept me going and made my year as amazing as possible. Without them on my side, I would had been burnt out and frustrated most of the time. No man is an island, but chose your friends wisely!

 

ENJOY THE JOURNEY

Some of my friends know me as someone who is always studying—like, legit serious in academics. I mean, yeah sure, of course I take my education seriously, but I am not always studying! Heck, I even sometimes just study the night before an exam.

I am 90% sure they see me as boring (BUT HEY IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE) but that’s only because I’m good with acads—school. There’s nothing wrong with that! I just know how to manage my time (sometimes) and allocate it properly so I could do acads, extras, and have fun!

I had a ton of fun during my last year in college, that it was one of my memorable years in so far. I did a lot of outside my comfort zone activities that helped me grow as a person; did reckless decisions even, and laughed out loud—the loudest ever— with friends, and of course, excelled in academics. BUT STILL some of my friends find me “boring” or not capable of doing “fun” things just because they only see one side of my picture or maybe their definition of fun is not inclined with mine. But I don’t know. What matters is that I enjoyed everything with people that matter to me–and that’s more important.

 

Anyway, those are some of my tips! It all boils down to proper time-management, self-discipline, and sense of responsibility. I know as students, we sometimes get so overwhelmed with school works or even figuring life out in general, and we can’t avoid the inevitable stress. But i hope–really hope– that amidst all the struggles, sleepless nights, and countless cups of coffee we’ve consumed, that we always remember to enjoy the journey; to enjoy the present; to live in the now, because our story is the journey that we took and not the end goal.

If you’re a student struggling with the pressure of school– or life– then let me just tell you this, it’s okay to hit that pause button once in a while. Have a breather. Go eat your favorite dessert; go on a roadtrip for a couple of hours just to breathe fresh air and be with your friends. You’re not abandoning the journey, you’re just simply pausing for a couple of minutes or hours to remind yourself why you started in the first place. Look at yourself and your achievements from afar, and think. What shall you do to make your situation less stressful? What steps should you take to shift your perspective to another angle? To a better one?

You have the power and the right to decide for yourself what you should do. Always remember, these storms are here to wash you clean. You will survive. You may feel like you’re going through a dark tunnel alone–and you’re scared. But I know you can do it. There’s a light at the end of it. Hope and believe, and you’ll get there.

I believe in you.

 

What are some of your ways to survive in school or to stay organized, balanced with your work & personal lives? I’d love to read them, because I’m still constantly finding ways to be more productive! 🙂

Anyway, have a great day!

 

 

Lots of love from your friendly probinsyana,

maffet

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14 thoughts on “8 Tips on How to Juggle Academic and Extra-curricular Activities

      1. Sobrang harsh. Pero mas harsh outside school. Akala ko nga nung College, bukod sa hirap sa acads, akala ko nakilala ko na yung mga bitchesa ng lipunan (na culture shock pa ko nun) pero may tatalo pa pala talaga sa kanila sa labas. Hahaha.

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