The Magic of a Regular Extracurricular
When I was on the Varsity Badminton Team, it was difficult to recruiting new talent because students believed that it is a huge time commitment. Personally, I felt being on the team did not take my time away, but rather it saved my time. Unfortunately, I only joined in my third year due to injuries. But my first semester on the team, I achieved my best GPA. And despite no longer playing for the team, currently I continue to train in a private badminton club. Here are the three main reasons why I believe having a regular extracurricular activity makes me more efficient and effective with my time:
No more procrastination (ok, less):
I anticipate and have to plan which hours and how many hours I need to block out of my schedule for school work (formerly), job searching (currently), and other activities. There is no more “I have the whole day wide open”, “I have 5 hours free today”, or “I have the evening ahead of me to start work I need to do”. I don’t. I have smaller blocks of time and if it needs to be done for tomorrow, I need it done before this evening. I found having a lot of time in front of me tends to demotivate me to act, whereas being tight on time made me organize my days more explicitly. It was no longer a vague case of “I will get it done tomorrow”, rather I will get it done tomorrow during my break from 2:30 to 4:00. I have gotten used to working independently at the same hours every week. I have never had to skip practice to finish an assignment or study for an exam (ok except maybe close to finals). I am not saying that every hour in my day is scheduled, nor that I never procrastinate, I am only human. I am saying that it just helps me structure my days more efficiently, and I find myself being more productive.
A Break for my Mind:
Be it a sport, a part-time job or a club, usually the task demands your undivided attention. It gives your mind a breather from the stress of school, of your full time work, or (for me) job searching. Often, I mull over the same issues in my head during the day but the moment the birdie comes into view my mind goes blank. Moving around also gets all those happy neurotransmitters flowing. Though badminton is very painful at times, I need to push through because I have dedicated my time to this sole activity and I should not be wasting it thinking about anything else. Having a break from school and work refreshes me and makes me more willing to come back to my tasks. It gives me time to create a new perspective on my issues or simply to let them go.
In order to reap the benefits of the two first points, I found that the activity really needed to be with other people. First, others keep you accountable. For example, if you’re registered to a yoga class with a friend, you know someone will notice if you don’t come and that someone is relying on you. But also, you really enjoy that person’s company and look forward to seeing them every week. Secondly, having a friends group who doesn’t take the same classes or doesn’t work at the same place helps you vary your conversation. Being able to talk about something new is a great way for your mind to take a break, gain new perspective and/or let go.
So don’t be afraid to sign up to that painting class, be the VP of that club, learn that new language or sign up to that sport! I really believe that you can only benefit from it if you truly love it.