Does homework feel like it’s taking over your life? Are you feeling like you are missing out on job opportunities, seeing friends, getting to your sports commitments, or having a social life?! While homework serves a purpose, it is essential to make sure that it isn’t taking you away from other important things in your life. The benefits of homework include:
- Keeping you prepared for classes
- Initiating study habits that will be vital for your college years
- Monitoring your progress
- Reinforcing the new concepts you have learned that day
- Establishing time-management skills
To make sure you are getting the most out of your homework as opposed to dreading it, check out the following tips to help you complete it effectively and efficiently.
Make A Plan
Keep a detailed list either written in your planner or on your phone of everything you are required to do and the deadlines you need to follow. Try to tackle the hardest parts first and start with the most difficult assignments. This will help you learn not to procrastinate and leave the worst things (and items that may take more time and energy) to the last minute. This is a terrible habit that can leave you feeling stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Besides, you will feel such a great sense of accomplishment when you tackle the worst first!
Ensure you plan your assignments accordingly by honestly assessing how long that essay, title page, report, graph, art project, etc. is going to take you. You might need to break down larger tasks over a few days if you have the luxury of time to ensure that you don’t feel burnt out or as though you are cramming. For example, if you have a few days to complete your essay, do the outline and the draft, then proofread and cite your references before submitting your final copy.
Establish A Positive Mood & Comfortable Workspace
Create a good study area with everything you need (for example, a calculator). If you don't have a quiet place at home, try your school or local library.
Finding an inspiring and quiet, well-lit space is essential to your success. Do you feel distracted in your cluttered bedroom? Do you find yourself taking frequent breaks to tidy your desk and put your laundry away? Maybe the kitchen table is too noisy, or the family office is full of everyone else’s projects? Determine why you are feeling distracted and then make a plan. If you need to spend time at the library or make time to clear your study space out first, do that. It is easy to lose focus when you are competing with a bunch of things or noise.
Are you squinting and getting headaches due to poor light? Try a lamp, LED Christmas lights, or add a salt lamp to your desk to improve your ambiance. It can be tricky to adjust your space during the fall and winter months when darkness creeps into your study time earlier.
Make sure you have everything you need before you begin. Have you got your calculator and your eraser? Do you have your laptop charger handy? People spend extra time looking for things they need. Keep your office space stocked with the following:
- Paper – lined, unlined, graph, watercolor
- Pens, pencils, felts, pastels, colored pencils
- Rulers, protractors, etc.
- Stapler, paperclips, hole-punch
- Phone and computer chargers
If your mind tends to wander, try to become more involved. Highlighting sections of your notes, rewriting certain definitions and discussing topics with classmates can grant you a varying perspective. Sometimes, you will be able to relate your homework to real life or a topic you are covering in a different class. Try to find out why you are feeling restless. Do you need to get some fresh air? Do you need to have a snack or drink more water? Perhaps, giving yourself a reward or something to look forward to after you tackle the job will bring you extra motivation.
Aim to Study Each Day at the Same Time
Maybe you lucked out and don’t have homework each night. This is a great opportunity to complete some reading and review your notes. This will get you into a positive habit of taking time to review your work and feel prepared. Learning how to use time positively and in a productive manner now will be beneficial when you have those subjects that require nightly homework and reading.
Get a Study-Buddy
Having a group that you can engage in discussions with and compare notes can be helpful. This is a great way to accomplish tasks together and stay motivated. A study group can provide the opportunity to give one another quizzes and predict upcoming test questions. Being responsible to meet up at a specific time and place can help you maximize your time-management skills.
Communication Is Key
Are you feeling swamped? Are you losing sleep and watching deadlines slip through your fingers? Are you trying to juggle school, work, friends, transportation, family commitments and more? Take a deep breath and realize you are not alone. If you are getting assignments back and feeling bummed about your mark because you know you can do better, relax.
Speak with your family, counselor, or teachers about your concerns. They can help you assess how much time and energy is average for each assignment and see where you are falling behind. Sometimes, it is as easy as breaking down larger tasks into smaller steps that can help you feel empowered and capable.
How Do You Best Organize the Information?
People’s minds work in unique ways. Are you a visual person? Do you prefer to draw charts and pictures when you are memorizing facts? Do you like to make outlines and diagrams? Perhaps, you prefer to read aloud to yourself or to write or type information out to help make it stick. If you are having trouble with your current methods, try something new. Speak with a teacher to discover what new tools you can implement if you are stuck.
Enjoy Any Free Time & Take Advantage Of It
Are you on public transport for a long time? Instead of sleeping on the bus, try to use this time for reading, reviewing your notes, outlining that next project, or sketching your title page. Making the most of your time will help you feel more balanced and relaxed.
Setting goals with your homework will help you stay on track. Enjoy feeling calm, organized and ahead of the game by setting out your work appropriately with manageable, smart goals. You will have a lot more freedom when you can plan out your homework so that it is not taking over your life or left until the last minute.
Celebrate Your Achievements & Reward Your Accomplishments
Did you hit a major milestone with flying colors? Did you finish something early or get a higher mark than you anticipated? Enjoy your success and feel happy with your results. You worked hard and you deserve a treat of some kind. Does this equate to sleeping in? Buying something new for your wardrobe? Taking a weekend getaway? Heading for a massage? Figure out what kind of reasonable reward won’t break the bank and will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. Maybe a candle-lit bath followed by your favorite movie or baking homemade cookies are obtainable options.