Homework can often feel like an overwhelming, never-ending pile of stress. Homework stress can cause frustration and anxiety and ultimately prevent you from achieving your best results.
However, this feeling of not being in control can be avoided by simply adjusting your study habits. Homework and study can actually be a rewarding, satisfying experience if done in an organised and efficient way. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.
1. Practise good time management
Time management is key to avoiding homework stress. Plotting out the time you need to complete your homework or assignment can quickly make what seems like an overwhelming task much less stressful to approach.
- Set aside a certain amount of time each day to work on your homework, and choose a time that sits you. You may prefer early in the morning before school, or maybe you’re fresher when you get home from school in the afternoon.
- Use a calendar or school planner to plot out your work. List important dates, when things are due and when you have exams. This will help you have a good visual of things you need to work towards.
- Allow enough time to complete your work. Making sure you give yourself enough time to complete your work is crucial in avoiding a meltdown. Be realistic. Estimate how long you think it will take each day to complete your homework, and allow plenty of time for bigger projects and assignments.
2. Ask questions
One of the biggest causes of homework stress is not understanding the question, or how to solve the problem at hand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify what you need to do. Whether it be a question on how to solve a tricky trigonometry problem or how to structure your essay, no question is a silly question. Try asking your teachers, your parents, a friend or an online Subject Specialist for help.
3. Listen to your teacher and take notes
It sounds simple, but it’s something that many students struggle with. Pay attention and write down important terms and ideas in the classroom. You will find this helps organise your thoughts and remember key information, which will make homework time much more of a breeze.
4. Allow more time for areas you find difficult
Take a practice test or write a practice essay and focus on the areas you find the hardest. The more you practise, the less stressful it will be when the time comes to sit the exam or hand in your assignment.
5. Refresh your memory regularly
Every afternoon, or at least every couple of days, go over what you’ve learnt from previous lessons. If you find that you don’t have the basic knowledge to tackle more difficult subjects go over this more frequently - this will help you build up your confidence in those areas.
6. Get a good night’s sleep
It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to suffer from sleep deprivation when you are feeling stressed about homework. Research suggests that kids and teens need around 9-10 hours sleep a night. This will significantly help focus, memory, decision making and creativity, all of which are important inside and outside of the classroom.
7. Avoid procrastination
Procrastination could well be the biggest factor responsible for homework stress. You’d be surprised at how much time you can waste by putting off what you need to do until you’ve checked out your Facebook page or listened to your favourite song! Let these be rewards for once your work is actually done.
8. Have a healthy snack
There is a proven link between what we eat and how well our brain functions. Memory, learning ability and emotional states are affected by what we put into our bodies, and to perform our best we need a healthy diet. (Check out some delicious and healthy snack recipes here)
9. Remember to breathe
If you’re starting to feel anxious or overwhelmed by your work, take five deep breaths and give yourself a moment of calm. Deep breathing will help control your nervous system and encourage your body to relax, bringing you into a better state to concentrate on your study.
10. Give yourself some ‘me’ time
While it’s important that you manage your time and work efficiently, you are going to be much more productive if you are feeling fresh and have had some time to do things you enjoy doing. It might be going for a walk or a swim, hanging out with some friends on the weekend, or perhaps it’s playing sport? Whatever it may be, make sure you have that balance. A healthy, happy mind equals better study time.
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Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? You try to read and get distracted by Snapchat. You’re doing your math homework until you’re little sister comes barreling through the kitchen. The new BuzzFeed quiz sounds way more appealing than starting your French paper.
Research shows that even a 3-second interruption (like the time it takes to glance at your buzzing phone) has the power to completely derail the task you’re working on and makes you more likely to mess up.
Want to defeat homework distractions once and for all? Here are nine interruption busters to help you concentrate on what you need to do to reach your goals.
1. Make homework a habit.
You brush your teeth before bed; it’s just what happens. Same with homework. You do homework after school. Or, you do homework after dinner. Your schedule might vary from day to day, but in general being consistent about when homework will happen assures that it will become second nature.
2. Find your perfect study space.
Doing your homework in roughly the same place every night will help cement the routine. Whether it’s the public library, on your bed, or at the kitchen table, find a study space to make your own.
3. Get rid of unnecessary interruptions.
Distractions are often electronic but not always (rowdy younger siblings definitely count!). Wear headphones. Silence those enticing app notifications. You probably need your computer to do research or type up your lit essay so consider using a browser extension like StayFocused to block chronically distracting sites (like your favorite blog or Instagram).
4. Plan ahead.
Take a look at everything you have to do and gather up ALL the gear you’ll need to do it. Have a trig quiz? Grab your calculator. Reading a chapter for biology? Make sure a highlighter is handy. Going on a search for supplies is a surefire way to derail homework.
5. Big projects? Start small.
If you’ve got a big assignment looming, like a research paper, stay motivated by completing a small piece of the project every few days. It’s easy to get distracted if the project seems too complicated or has a distant due date. Even writing just a few sentences a night will keep your essay on track.
6. Give your brain a break.
Our brains and bodies aren’t wired to do the same thing for too long. Attempting to complete a complicated geometry problem set in one sitting could end up frustrating you and make you want to give up. Make sure you are allowing yourself plenty of breaks—walk the dog, have a dance party, scan your Twitter feed—to get the blood flowing and get the brain moving.
7. Shift subjects.
You’ve got homework from lots of different teachers across multiple subjects. Who says you have to finish your Spanish dialogue before moving on to chemistry? When your mind starts wandering or you’ve just had enough, it’s ok (and often very productive!) to move on to something else. You may end up shifting subjects a few times before your assignments are completed.
8. Get loose.
Your study routine doesn’t have to be monotonous, especially if you are “actively” rather than passively involved with homework So take notes on passages as you read them. Or, create flashcards for vocab words. Don’t just study the biology diagram; try to replicate it. The more senses that are involved in the work, the more you will retain and the less likely you will zone out and read the same thing over and over with no comprehension.
9. Still can’t focus? We can help!
Sometimes an “outside force” can be very motivating. If you’re stuck, our online tutors are available 24/7 and can help you get back on track in just a few minutes.
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