Hi, I’m Kunal Oak, a three-time 7x7 National Record Holder, defending 7x7 National Champion and a speedcubing coach. In this blog, I will be offering my thoughts on balancing cubing and studies, and how I have managed to do so throughout the years
Why should you Balance?
Whether we like it or not, being able to sustain a hobby is largely reliant on support from our parents/guardians (until we become self-sufficient). I have always scored extremely well and ranked very highly in competitive exams, and in return, my parents have always supported all of my hobbies. It is a lot of people's dream to just be speedcubing every moment of every day, but academics are extremely important as well.
However, it goes without saying that you shouldn't just devote ALL your time to studying - having something you can do to relax is extremely important for stress management and mental health.
To paraphrase a very popular saying, "everyone has the same 24 hours. It's up to you what to do with them."
Far too many people think they have a lack of time, whereas more often than not, they spend a large fraction of their waking hours in inconsequential activities. Take a week or two, and don't change anything about your schedule, but be diligent in tracking how many hours you're spending studying, cubing, on social media, on streaming platforms etc. Many of you would be surprised at how much time you spend on the latter two, and it's not your fault - these services have been carefully designed in a way to keep you sucked into that bubble.
Ask yourself, is it more important (to you) to finish a season of a show you started watching, or to put that time into practicing cubing and reaching your goals? There's no correct answer to this question, it's just a way to be honest to yourself about how serious you are about cubing.
As a general rule, I spend no more than one hour per day streaming shows, and no more than half an hour scrolling social media to keep myself in the loop. Once you become cognizant of how much time you're spending doing a certain activity, you'd be amazed at how much time you can free up.
Whenever you hear yourself use the excuse (not just for cubing but anything in life) - "I don't have the time" - ask yourself, are you really short on time? Or are you just short on energy? This ties in to the previous section - WHY do we spend so much time scrolling social media?
Because it is low effort. It's autopilot. The content is just…..there, and you are consuming it.
The issue here is not that studies leave you with no TIME for cubing - it is the fact that studies leave you so mentally exhausted that cubing seems unappealing (since cubing is definitely a mentally engaging and taxing activity)
The solution to this is simple - segment your time better. A four-hour study stretch will leave you exhausted, so instead, break it into four hour-long chunks, and cube in between.
There is another reason for this - a study has shown that our focus tends to be the highest near the beginning and end of a session. So when you study for hours at a stretch, your focus might be good for the first and last half hour or so - but your concentration in the middle of the session will definitely suffer. Segmenting your study time into half-hour or hour long sessions will keep you focused throughout and increase retention.
Don't Rush your Studies
At a glance, this advice will seem counter intuitive. Why should you study at a moderate pace? Won't that leave less time for cubing?
The answer is NO.
If you rush through a study session, chances are your retention will be poor. And poor retention means you will have to revisit those topics thoroughly, which essentially makes your first study session redundant. If you follow the advice in the previous section and study at a moderate pace, you'll find that there's little to no revision needed even a month or two later, which saves you a lot of time.
Take Care of your Health
As mentioned earlier, energy is time. This section is pretty trivial - sleep well, eat well, stay hydrated and keep yourself physically active, and you'll find yourself feeling not just more energetic, but happier, more focused, driven and efficient.
Balancing cubing and studies is not as impossible as a lot of people make it seem and the notion that "you HAVE to quit cubing and focus on studies" is a very damaging one. It really just boils down to managing your time and energy effectively, and spending as little of both on frivolous activities. I hope the advice in this blog helps you balance the two, and I wish you all the best for your future!