By Sophia Z. ’24
Let’s be honest: middle school can be rough, especially at a competitive school like Harvard-Westlake. You might feel like the hours are constantly running out, and more than often, you’ll find yourself falling asleep at your desk past your usual bedtime. Balancing homework, sports, and other extracurriculars with a proper sleep schedule isn’t easy. Here’s some tips I’ve gathered on how to make the most of your limited time.
First of all, the neat thing about the middle school is that there are free periods, often at least two a day. That’s chunks of 40 minutes where you can do anything. Harvard-Westlake pretty much lets you have free reign around the school, as long as you aren’t in a classroom by yourself or leaving the school without permission. The library provides a nice environment for homework, and is usually open the whole day; they have outlets to charge laptops and phones, as well as good lighting. The senior garden is usually empty and provides a serene environment should the library be too crowded or loud for your liking. Your grade lounge is a place where you can chat with students of your grade who might have the same assignment as you, in case you need help on anything.
For student athletes, getting homework done as much as possible before practice is crucial. Sports practices can meet every day depending on what sport you play, and practice times can be as long as two hours. Adding on the commute time it takes you to get home, plus the additional training, practice games, and tournaments, it’s clear to see that athletics are a huge time commitment. After a grueling sports practice, you’re not going to want to do homework; your muscles are all aching and you want to collapse in your bed forever. Keep in mind that this may apply to ‘nerd’ sports too–robotics, debate, and mathalon can also take up huge chunks of time. Performing arts also have a hefty time commitment, so plan accordingly.
When working, you should put all electronics you aren’t using away from sight and reach, meaning if your phone is in your pocket, move it to your backpack; that way, you’ll be less tempted to move and grab it. Yes, phones are good for keeping track of time, but if you’re in the library, there’s always a clock on the wall for you to check. Even if your head’s down, the rustling of movement after each period ends usually will alert you of a class getting out. If outside the library, it’s a good idea to set an alarm five or ten minutes before your class starts depending on how far your room is so you have time to pack up. Do keep in mind that some teachers start class right on time, so it’s a good idea to get there before the class is supposed to begin.
Doing homework during free periods will drastically reduce your workload. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your free time at the library going through worksheets, of course. It’s important to have a balance so if you and a friend with the same free want to hang out instead of doing homework, that’s fine too. Social life isn’t something you should completely neglect in favor of good grades. However, do be mindful of the amount of homework you have in total. There are some days that will be heavier than others, and choosing what to prioritize is a key aspect of keeping your physical and mental health up.