Devil’s Advocate

William Ling-Regan and Eleanor Brown


Dear Jam-Packed Junior,


We understand. When balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars, and the rest of your life, it’s easy to feel constantly overwhelmed. It often seems like an endless battle, especially during junior year. It’s not a problem with an easy solution, but we have a few tactics that might help.

First, it’s incredibly satisfying to cross something off a list when you’re finished. We like to use planners or make to-do lists to organize our schedules and keep track of things, both in and outside of school. What form this takes is entirely your choice. You could buy a physical planner with dates; you could create a table of the days of the week on Google Sheets; you could use Google Calendar; you could buy a paper calendar. Whatever you do, it’s helpful to visualize everything that needs to get done. That way, you can plan ahead, keep track of what you still need to do, and set deadlines for when you’ll finish part or all of an assignment. Most importantly, you’ll get the satisfaction of crossing off a task well done. 

When it comes to actually sitting down and doing work, we suggest going to a designated spot. This could be a certain table in the library at school, your desk or kitchen table at home, or someplace like a coffee shop that will make doing work more enjoyable. If you have a designated place to work, it’ll be easier to tune out distractions and get in the zone. 

As we work, we like to use the Pomodoro Technique, where you do 25 minutes of work and then follow it with a five-minute break. This technique makes it feel like you’re working for less time and tells you to take a break after 25 minutes. You can set the timers yourself or find websites that do it all for you. With the Pomodoro Technique, you’ll be laser-focused during your 25 minutes and have built-in time to relax.

Lastly, we’d like to remind you that it’s okay to do work. Seeing other people having fun while you’re studying is the worst, but getting your work done does not make you less cool. In fact, you can even have a good time while doing your work, as contradictory as that sounds. Listen to music, eat a snack, or work together with a friend. Anything that makes you dread work a little less is valuable. Furthermore, doing work when you can is the best way to have a good social life, because it ensures that you have time to spend with your friends without falling behind in school.

The bottom line is that there’s an end in sight. It might feel very far away, but it will come. Just take it day by day, and eventually, you’ll finish everything that needs to be done. Instead of worrying about all the work you still have to do, focus on what you can do right now. We know firsthand how tempting it is to leave work for later, but the only way to stop it from piling up is to do some each day. Everything will balance by planning when and where you’ll do work and, equally importantly, when you’ll have fun.



The Devil’s Advocate


The Devil’s Advocate is the Polygon’s advice column. Need advice? Write [email protected] a letter explaining your problem and we’ll publish it anonymously with advice from the Devil’s Advocate.