How I manage my schedule as a student athlete

Zoe CarylZoe Caryl is currently a sophomore majoring in atmospheric science and minoring in political science. She is a catcher on the varsity softball team. Outside of school and softball, Zoe loves photography, interior and graphic design, and exploring new places. 

My alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. and turns back on at 10:45 p.m. The schedule of a collegiate softball player is a rigorous one! Four hours of practice a day, an hour of lift, rehab, volunteering, travel, games, and photoshoots can get chaotic. Add in my atmospheric science major and political science minor and things can get overwhelming.

I would not change any of this for the world. I get the best of both worlds of being in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and being a college athlete!

Here are some of my tricks for navigating a heavy schedule.

Time management

As cliche as it sounds, time management is the most important thing to navigating a stressful college schedule. For me, classes, practices, meetings, and appointments take up a large portion of my time. However, you can manage all of these things with time management.

When I’m working on my coursework, for example, I like to set chunks of time aside to work on Calc III, take a 10-minute break, then start up on Climate Processes. I pack my uniforms and pick out outfits the night before. I put chunks of time in my schedule to practice softball outside of practice.

There is always time to explore UIUC, go to new coffee shops, hang out with friends, or get involved if you make time.

Planners and calendars

These two things are life savers for me. Every Sunday night, I sit down and plan what I am doing during the upcoming week. Exams, doctor's appointments, office hours, and homework all make an appearance. I check my planner rigorously and put check boxes next to all my assignments to feel accomplished.

Calendars are also nice to keep track of future events. I use Google Calendar. However, there are many options out there—even paper ones! I like to know future games and when my midterms are. This can all be personalized to you. My sister is a sticky note person; she has them all over her desk. Whatever can remind you about what you need to do and when is great.

Color coordination

I cannot express this enough: color coordination makes a difference when it comes to scheduling. Everything within my planners and calendars is color-coordinated based on the event. Is rent due? Blue. Softball events? Orange. Exams? Maroon. Find ways to organize information together that makes sense to you.

Make time to eat

Food is the fuel that gives your body energy. No matter what you are doing, if you do not eat, your body cannot function. Set aside times in your day to make food, buy food, or go to the dining halls. I often pack myself lunches because I know I do not have time to go somewhere and eat.

At the end of the day, taking care of yourself is what matters most. Set time aside to do the things you love—your mental health matters. And enjoy your time here at Illinois because it goes by faster than you think it does!

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Zoe Caryl