Recently, a SOAR® subscriber asked for tips to help her daughter stay on-task with her homework. Just last night, a student in my Homework Action Group complained of the same problem. “I have a hard time staying focused on homework. It takes me forever to do it!”
I also remember, as a young student, sitting at my desk, wriggling and squirming.Soon, I would need a drink, or snack, or pencil… After getting lost in the kitchen and sucked into a TV show, it would be another hour before I returned to my homework.
It would get so late, I finally had no choice but to do my homework. By that time, I was irritable, annoyed, and impatient. (Don’t laugh, Mom!) That made homework even worse.
Why did I do this?
I didn’t like homework. Obviously. I didn’t know how to do it efficiently. I didn’t have the discipline to do it quickly.
But, I’ve learned a lot since then…
There isn’t much I can do to help anyone “like” homework. I can teach strategies for completing it faster, but that takes 150 pages. So, this article will help you improve your self-discipline.
“Self-Discipline Does NOT Sound Fun!”
Yes, I know… self-discipline sounds dreadful. But, it’s time to change your perspective. Just past the point of resistance is an amazing feeling of accomplishment and a big pay-off.
Self-discipline is what motivates athletes to win championships and wealthy people to earn their riches. One of the world’s most successful marketing campaigns was created on the concept of self-discipline; NIKE inspires athletes to “Just Do It!” Apply that attitude to homework, and great things will happen.
Action Plan for Staying Focused on Homework
“Just do it!” is a little easier said than done, especially when it comes to homework. However, the following tips will help you get started:
- The hours between 3-6 p.m. are typically the most wasted of a student’s day. Make them your most productive by doing homework within one hour after school, when possible. You’re most alert at this time, so homework will be easier than doing it later.
- Find small sections of time for homework before you get home… on the bus, before basketball practice, or even during school. (There is a lot of “down-time” in classes, such as when teachers take attendance.) The less homework you have when you get home, the more motivated you will be to finish the rest quickly.
- Reward yourself. Challenge yourself to do all of your homework before a specific time. Then, you’ll have plenty of time to watch Netflix, play video games, text friends, etc.
- Fill a basket with supplies you need for homework: pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, stapler, paper, scissors, markers, glue, ruler, etc. Keep the basket next to you so everything will be right at your fingertips. One trip across the house for a stapler can cost you hours when you get sidetracked by the refrigerator, TV, or computer. Every sibling should have their own basket. If you live in two homes, keep one basket in each house.
- Eliminate distractions. It’s tempting to watch TV, listen to music, and text friends while doing homework. However, the human brain is only capable of focusing on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your attention constantly shifts back-and-forth. Sometimes that shift happens so rapidly, you don’t even notice it. However, you will be:doubling your homework time, increasing errors, and completely destroying any learning that might happen while doing homework.
- Use an electronic timer. Before you begin an assignment, determine how much time it should take to complete. Add five minutes and set the timer. Challenge yourself to finish before the timer goes off. This is great way to develop motivation (a.k.a. self-discipline) because it becomes a game to play against yourself. For younger students, parents can offer small rewards for each assignment that is done before the timer goes off.
- Parents: Do your “homework” while your child does their homework. You have bills to pay and school papers to complete. Do those chores during “homework time.” It helps them feel like they aren’t “missing out” and keeps them focused.
Homework is usually NOT fun. But, you can make it much easier if you follow Nike’s advice and “Just Do It!” Your evenings will suddenly have more free time.Your grades will improve as you learn information while doing homework.
Before long, you’ll develop a much better attitude towards homework because you will have taken control of it, instead of your homework taking control of you.
To get more simple ways to easily “Just Do It,” check out our dynamic and interactive app for students.
To your success,
Filed Under: StudentsTagged With: homework, students
Whether you thrive working late at night or have trouble getting anything done because of the temptation to give up to the comforts of sleep, most students will have to do homework late at night more than a few times in their lives. This is why we’ve created this list of 10 interesting tips to help you get through those moments:
It’s never a good idea to have caffeine too late into the night or can lose some of the valuable sleep your body needs to recover. But if you have caffeine about four to six hours before you plan to go to sleep you can use that energy to drive your homework study time.
Having some snacks handy will make it easy for you to reenergize throughout the evening. Try to stay away from sugary snacks that can actually have a negative effect and lead to energy crashes.
If you need to stay up late then it’s probably not a good idea to do you work anywhere near your bed. Set up your work facing away from your bed or in another room to avoid the temptation of laying down.
Don’t waste time digging around your backpack for whatever books or notepads you need to work through your assignments. Take out all of your needed materials beforehand to save you valuable time.
Keeping yourself organized can also be made easier by creating a task list that you can check-off as you complete each step of your assignments. This can also be a great way to keep you motivated.
Unless your homework requires you to work online, you should turn off the internet as well as all other common distractions such as the television or your cell phone.
It might be a good idea to have a little music to keep you awake. Just don’t choose anything that is too loud or distracting. Perhaps something that will likely grab your attention but not negatively affect your work habits.
Take a look at your assignments and figure out how long it will take to complete each task. Stay on top of this schedule to the best of your abilities so that you don’t spend too much time on any one part.
When you take your breaks try to do something to energize your body and rest your mind. Don’t lay down for a short nap; you might just fall asleep for the night. Go for a walk or do some light exercises instead.
Lastly, review each section before moving on to the next. Doing so will ensure that you understand where you are at in your assignment as well give you the drive and focus to move onto the next challenge.