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  • Student Journalist

Balancing Brilliance

Introducing the academic dynamo who effortlessly dances between textbooks and extracurriculars, setting a standard so high, it’s like she’s rewriting the rules of the game with a wink and a smile.


Meeting someone like Sneha in my class has been a refreshing experience. With her innate friendliness and approachability, she effortlessly fosters an environment of support and assistance for those around her. I've witnessed her dedication firsthand, from helping me navigate through academic challenges to seamlessly managing her own studies. Her proactive approach to learning is evident in every classroom interaction, always staying ahead and updated.


However, what truly intrigues me is her exceptional time management skills. In a world where burnout seems inevitable, she navigates her days with finesse, ensuring a harmonious balance between academics, extracurriculars, and personal time. As I contemplate the struggles many students face in juggling their responsibilities, I find myself eager to delve into her secrets of time management. I believe her insights could serve as a beacon of inspiration, particularly for those on the brink of college applications and the looming pressures ahead.


What initially sparked your passion for academics and extracurricular activities?

Well it’s been like this for me ever since I could read. I would always be eager to explore the world around me and understand the reasoning behind things. Like I would read the back of ketchup bottles to try and see the various ingredients or rummage through my elder brother’s textbooks and open his geography textbook to see the maps of various places of the world. So I guess it to my hyper younger self who’s always been engrossed in learning. And personally I feel you can take academics and extracurriculars together, like if I had learned something in class I would always try to go and dig deeper into that topic and somehow try to see if I can implement that knowledge in any other aspect of my life. So I guess that curiosity of mine benefited me. In short, I feel like I personally never liked being bored–which is something I hope they put on my gravestone: “she never got bored.”


Can you tell me about a mentor or role model who has influenced your approach to academics and extracurriculars?

Oh, I’ve had a lot of people who I admire and who have made me the way I am right now.

I think personally it starts with me from my home. I was blessed to have a very strong support system from the start. Both my parents are extremely creative. My dad loves to sketch and my mom reads, both of them are hardcore readers. And another thing is my parents never forced me into anything or any classes. They would very happily try to see if I had a certain inclination to something and would then help me explore further on that. Initially, I used to be in a lot of classes for guitar, taekwondo, classical music etc., but then finally I narrowed it down. This is how people get to explore and find their “niche”. I think that the best thing parents can do is to provide them with a platter of options to explore because they’ll eventually find what they’re good at. 


How do you manage to excel in both academics and extracurriculars without feeling overwhelmed?

My best friends are my calendar and my notes app. I think it is very vital for one to break down the task at hand into smaller versions and delegate the work accordingly and decide when I will be able to complete what task. Another thing I think is important is one should learn the ability to say no to some opportunities and not bite off more than they can chew. One should know what opportunities or tasks will be beneficial for them later on and reach out to any support system at home or maybe in your school and try to see if you can delegate the work to help ease the load off your back. Personally I used to suffer from overloading myself with so much work. When the lockdown came into the picture, I had to really introspect and try and slow it down for myself because I didn’t want to go overkill to the point where I have no energy to go forward. 


Could you walk me through your journey and highlight significant milestones along the way?If there was something I could give credit to which has shaped me into the way I am, it would probably be the fact that I used to shift schools so often. Up until my last 4 years in the current school I’m in, I hadn’t stayed in a school for longer than 2 years. After you start switching from that many schools you start playing ‘personality lego’. If you knew me in 6th grade or even 2nd grade I would not be the same person; because of this shifting I’ve always had to build on myself. It was also a fun way to be the new girl in every school that I went to. So whenever I would go to a new school I’d always ask myself, “What could I adopt to be more friendly?” or “What could I do to engage with people better”.

As of now I’m probably the most confident I have ever been because I’ve learnt and grown a lot as a person and made a lot of friends because of that skill that I have. Every time I would switch schools I’d always have these metrics in mind – “This is what happened last time, let’s do better this time”, and that personally worked for me. I still have traits of ‘me’ but things I could alter or things I could adapt to like make it easier on me. I worked on those things for myself, so that adaptation is a key trait. So while I do feel sad for missing out on those long-lasting school relationships, I do know that my experiences are pretty unique for our age.


What kind of environment do you find most conducive to your pursuits and how do you usually plan your day?

I feel like this is very dynamic for me because I personally take it as a study topic at a time. I have a desk which is basically my sanctuary, that's where I practically do everything. Sitting there basically helps me get into the mindset, "Ok this is the task at hand let me get to this". Like everyone, I have my strong chapters and my weak chapters. How I deal with that is it always helps to take notes during lessons or classes. I write down practically anything that gets discussed or any thoughts that come to my head while the lesson is being taught to help me understand it better.

It’s always good to be proactive during classes and I feel I’ve been really lucky to have great teachers who I’ve build a strong relationship with and I really owe it to them as they’ve really made me feel comfortable enough to ask any question during class or just texting them on even at an obscene hour and they’ll still do their best to reach back to me. So that’s my system and that works for me.


If you were to offer guidance to fellow peers seeking to make the most out of their time, what kind of timetable would you suggest?

I feel like your start of the day is pretty significant, like how many hours are you able to sleep. There will be some months where sleeping is going to be hard for you or you will not get enough time or something or the other will keep coming up but eventually that ‘sleep debt’ will start accumulating and of course then you will crash. So ultimately you’ll just have to make sure you get that rest. Another thing I’d like to add is that there is a difference between sleep and rest. Sleeping is a form of rest but resting may not be sleeping. Maybe I listen to music and shut my eyes or read a book or watch a movie because that’s my form of rest. It’s important to know what your rest is and what works for you. So if I could summarize it, it would be:

And of course there are certain things one can do in order to be able to complete tasks. Something that has helped me is seeing my other peers do that same task too. So if I see that, "Ok, this other person is able to do this too, then I think, ok this is ‘doable’". Like self-efficacy plays a huge role here, when you see someone doing something you automatically think ok if they’re doing it I can too. A lot of the people I interact with, I see them take on these great tasks and while admiring them, I ask myself, "If they can do it why can’t I?". And if I’m having an issue with what I’m studying then how can I best make these easier for myself. It’s not always about doing the hard thing, it's about breaking that hard thing down into stuff that you can do one by one. So if I’m having an issue with a particular topic, I ask myself–“Where am I stuck” and then work on that. Of course, no doubt there will be things one essentially does not want to work on but there will come a point in time where you’ll have to tell yourself that “I know you don’t want to do this, this is hard, but it has to be done anyway.” It’s all about strategic planning in the end, and what floats your boat.


 

In conclusion, crafting an effective timetable for optimising time management involves a multifaceted approach. Understanding the importance of rest beyond mere sleep and identifying individualised methods of rejuvenation are paramount. Concurrently, leveraging self-efficacy by observing peers' achievements can ignite motivation and instill a sense of "doability" in tackling tasks. Breaking down daunting challenges into manageable steps and adopting a strategic mindset are essential strategies for navigating academic or professional endeavours. Moreover, embracing adaptability and continuous self-improvement, as exemplified by the interviewee's journey of frequent school transitions, underscores the significance of personal growth in time management. By amalgamating these principles—rest, self-efficacy, strategic planning, and adaptability—one can forge a path towards efficient time utilisation and task accomplishment amidst life's transitions and challenges.


Written by Aadya Kashyap

Aadya wrote this article as a participant of the Media-Makers Fellowship's April'24 cohort.

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