Homework: Staying Focused to Get It Done Faster
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 remember, as a young student myself, wriggling and squirming at my desk. 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 a complete curriculum. 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, your siblings, your phone, etc. 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 videos, listen to music, or 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, distractions: double your homework time, increase errors, and completely destroy 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 a 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 your child 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 controlling you.
To get more simple ways to easily “Just Do It,” check out our dynamic and interactive app for students.
To your success,
Susan Kruger Winter
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