The Balance Between Home/School Life

Whether you’re an underclassman or not, it can be difficult to maintain focus during the school year. This has always been an issue for students, but the impacts have strengthened over distance learning. Finding the motivation to complete work is difficult now that the semi-quiet confines of a study hall have been replaced with the confines of your bedroom. The limited distractions at school are now limitless, as students often no longer have a monitor to keep them on task. Keeping good grades may seem daunting, as asking for help is not as simple as walking into teacher’s classrooms during a free block. These are the basic issues we’ve all heard before through countless school emails and letters, and maybe it feels like these are the only issues we should be dealing with. If you’re facing these struggles or any others that are not simply academic,  you’re not alone. I’m facing them too. 

This was absolutely not the senior year I expected. Yeah, I’m sure you all haven’t heard that sob story before… But in reality, this year has been nothing but a giant rubber band ball of stress. Jumping back into the school year after 6 months of having to do the bare minimum was not ideal. All of the structure and planning I had in my junior year was simply, poof, gone. I found myself procrastinating and viewing homework as optional since assignments felt as though they didn’t matter during quarantine. Despite being in school two days a week, I still felt isolated as I never got to meet some of my teachers or classmates in person. Finding a balance between school, clubs, and personal life (such as work), seemed impossible-not to mention finding time to study for the actual dumpster fire known as SATs. As far as applying for college goes, I was forced to hit the ground running with what felt like little to no guidance, and I was not prepared at all. The biggest punch in my gut this year, was when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. The week before school started, my grandmother moved into an apartment right next door to my house. I’ve always been extremely close to my grandmother. She’s one of the strongest people in my life and her humor and heart is huge. Watching her slowly transform into a person I don’t recognize anymore was something I was not ready to accept, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not ready to accept it.  Simple tasks such as changing the channel on the TV and cooking meals are all activities she needs assistance with, among many more. In the beginning, I was angry with school, because I felt it was asking me to prioritize studying over my family. I began to disregard my homework and dug myself into a deep hole of late work, work that I have not completely escaped yet. 

Despite everything that has gone wrong so far, I’ve been trying to adapt and come up with new methods to manage my time. Stress has different effects on people. For me, I don’t stop dwelling on tasks I haven’t completed until I shut down and lose all motivation. To avoid this, I limit my access to media distractions when I shut down. Instead, I do an outdoor activity such as skateboarding, or simply going for a short walk to clear my thoughts. Instead of using a traditional planner, I use a journal where I make checklists of everything I need to accomplish both academically and personally. I write notes about how my day was (both positive and negative) so that I can formulate a routine that works for me. Even if I’m behind on work, I allow myself time with my family and friends. After being around the people I love, I have more motivation and energy than before and often complete my homework at a higher standard. I’m also trying to be upfront with my teachers about my late work, and ask them to help me formulate timelines to complete the work

Struggles don’t simply apply to one’s class. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, life can be overwhelming. The methods I use to manage my time certainly won’t work for everyone. Just know that it’s important to take time for yourself, even if you feel like you don’t have enough time to do so. Your teachers are also there to help you (even if it seems like they aren’t). Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is the first step to crawling out of that hole of late work, and will help you peel some of those stressful rubber bands off your ball.