The Blueprint to Balance

Awareness of our own strengths and limitations is the necessary first step in managing a successful junior or senior year.


Kat Klinefelter

For most students at NASH, the demands of school must be managed alongside equally time-consuming responsibilities outside of school.

Shuban Tiwari, Staff Writer

School is back in session, and many students are already overwhelmed with the challenges of time-management and the pressure to keep their grades up. But a few science-based strategies and words of wisdom from current and graduated seniors are the only things necessary to make the year manageable and productive.

Consider a tip that many students overlook: mindfulness. Often mistaken for meditation, mindfulness doesn’t necessarily require a student to sit down in trance-like isolation. In fact, Psychology Today defines mindfulness as a “state of active, open attention to the present… observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.”

Of course, meditation is one way to achieve mindfulness. Finding alone time and organizing your thoughts and feelings can be especially helpful. However, high school students aren’t typically open to meditation, so the next best thing is to simply be aware and conscious of the decisions you take as a student. Observe how long your homework actually takes–don’t just assume you can finish it quickly after practice, unless you really can. Take the first few weeks of school to understand your classes and teachers. Which classes might require more work than others?  Where are the expectations the highest?

“Having two practices a night can be challenging to balance with my classes,” said Varun Kaveti, a senior who plays both basketball and volleyball, “but I make sure to maximize every free minute. I still catch myself scrolling on my phone, but that can turn 30 minutes of homework into an hour.”

Mindfulness as a high schooler comes down to being precise about the decisions you’re making. When you’re mindful of your time, you’re in control. Consider cutting time off your phone so that you can spend more time sleeping, hanging out with your friends, or doing something else that benefits your mental health. The more mindful you are, the more you’re able to control your life.

Another important piece of advice is to avoid procrastination, the nemesis of many students’ lives. It slowly creeps on us throughout the day and strikes us the second we get home. Procrastination is the voice that convinces you to do your homework later. Procrastination tells you that you’ve spent the entire day learning, so you can spend some time avoiding your academic responsibilities. High schoolers are all too familiar with this story, but they often fail to effectively combat it. The habit can then transition into their college years and adult lives, adding unnecessary pressure.

NASH senior William Sun, who has taken 16 AP courses, has a simple formula to avoid procrastination.

“I budget blocks of time throughout the day, saying I’m going to do this specific task at this time,” Sun said.

To some extent, of course, procrastination can be useful. Many students admit to using procrastination as a tool. They argue that the stress of procrastination causes them to work their hardest–diamonds are formed under pressure, after all. But there’s a difference between delaying work to 10PM and waiting until 2AM. According to The Association for Psychological Science, setting up a sleep schedule that is unsustainable negatively affects your health.

Needless to say, there is more than one way to combat procrastination. Some students, like Sun, focus on finishing work before a deadline they set for themselves. Others complete their work practically as soon as it’s handed to them. What’s important is to be mindful of the challenges you’ve chosen and the expectation other have for you. Be more conscious of your bad habits and your strengths, and find a comfortable workflow that will allow you to succeed.

But perhaps such advice is easier said than done for seniors, who are facing not only the stress of a new school year but the added anxiety of the college application process. However, NA grad and former Speech and Debate Team President Kolitha Perera encourages seniors to see the larger picture.

“If a college decision doesn’t work out, it’s likely that you and the school wouldn’t have formed a meaningful connection in the first place,” he said. “So, wherever you end up is wherever you’re meant to be–no matter where that is–if you work hard enough, it won’t matter in the long run.”

In its own way, Perera’s advice is a model of mindfulness.