Senior Hank Davis’ daily life is all about balancing responsibilities — and he has many. Workouts, practices and games with the La Salle University men’s basketball team. An intense course load as a biology major and chemistry minor. A 3.75 GPA to maintain as he works toward what comes next: hopefully, medical school and a career in neurosurgery.
In the spring, as Davis was preparing for a summer studying the effects of alcohol on the brains of rats, he got a chance to share his secrets to success when Adolescent Health and Wellness, an academic journal, invited him to outline how he balances his time. In “Student Athletes: Keeping the Balance,” Davis lays out five steps anyone can apply:
Maximize the day
Davis suggests blocking off periods of the day, even if only an hour, to accomplish a task. “You can work diligently for that time period,” he says. “If you know you’re setting everything aside — you’re turning your phone off, you’re not going to talk to anyone — you can get a lot more done.”
Take some “me” time
All the hours of classwork and practices can build up stress and affect your athletic and academic performance. Davis recommends setting aside a small amount of time for something you love. “Everyone’s idea of that is different,” he says, “but … it can really help you clear your mind and almost meditate.”
Talk to every coach, professor and close friend in advance and share your academic, athletic and personal schedules. Explain your commitments. “They want to help you,” Davis says. “But if they don’t know what you’re doing outside of what you’re specifically doing with them, they can’t help you.”
Don’t be passive
Unlike in high school, when teachers or counselors may nudge along underperforming students, college requires personal responsibility. To develop that, Davis says, teach yourself after class or seek out supplementary information.
Athletes understand the term when applied to training and practices, but sacrifice is important outside sports, too. That means learning to set priorities and trim excess time in your athletic, academic or social life to create room in another. Davis says the balance always is changing. “It’s important to know what to sacrifice at the moment,” he says.