9 Ways to Finish Homework in College Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
In truth, we’ve all experienced how difficult it feels just to start. So we tend to ignore it and focus on something more fun instead. But then, before we realize, a project that at first seemed manageable now appears next to impossible to complete.
So we go into a deadline-induced panic.
Even if you think you work well under stress and pressure in college, you probably still feel the overwhelming sense of anxiety that accompanies procrastination, whether or not you meet that looming deadline.
But if you want to break your procrastination habit, you can. It’s fixable. All you need is a solid support system and a few clever productivity tactics to keep your self-discipline and focus in check.
So instead of falling into the frantic last-minute cycle again, use this list of tools and strategies to push ahead and finish what needs to be done.
1. Play That Music
Music boosts your energy and keeps you alert. So if you are distracted by the slightest of sounds in a usually quiet atmosphere, music can drown out any spontaneous interruptions. It also has a powerful effect on your mood and recall. When you select the right song to play while studying, writing a paper or posting in the discussion board, the tune can trigger your memory.
2. Find a Study Buddy
If you find it difficult to sit down and create a study guide for your next exam, team up with a few classmates to draft a master study guide. Assign each person a section to work on. Perhaps one of your teammates has a better understanding of the material in a specific section and can help you better grasp the concepts. Then, combine everyone’s work for a complete and comprehensive guide.
3. Grab Your Phone
Use your smartphone to your advantage. Make use of those awkward segments of time throughout the day when you may have a 10-minute opening. Waiting for your kid to finish soccer practice? Have a couple minutes before your meeting starts? Study anytime by loading your notes onto your phone or turning them into digital, on-the-go flashcards.
4. Make It Fun
It’s ok to face it – we avoid tasks because they seem boring. The easiest way to fix this is to make those tasks fun. For example, if you are writing a paper, invite a friend who might have their own work to do to join you at a coffee shop. Or recruit your kids to quiz you on your study material. Your kids will love helping (and they’ll learn something too!).
5. Take Advantage of Web Apps
Writing apps like Hemingway and Grammarly can ease the process of writing papers by helping you write more clearly. Think of these apps as your own personal writing coach. As you write, the app identifies hard to read sentences, as well as awkward phrasing, and promotes better word choices.
6. Set an Alarm
Not just any alarm. One programmed to tell you what you need to do and how it will impact your day. Think, “start working on your paper now and you’ll be able to go to a movie.” If you ignore that one, then set another saying, “if you start your paper now, you can watch an hourlong drama,” and so on. This type of self-reward system can help you better manage your time and still fulfill your wants later on.
7. Recruit a Supervisor
Being accountable to someone is often the drive we need to kick us into gear. Use a similar tactic to ensure your schoolwork is done on time. Ask someone to check on your progress periodically to assure you’re staying on task. This someone can be your spouse, a friend or even your children. Choose wisely, though. You want someone who is serious about helping and won’t try to bother you while you are working. Your teenaged son or daughter will probably be very good at checking up on you and keeping you on task. Maybe even too good.
8. Do Your Least Favorite Work First
When you do your least favorite work first, you will increase your confidence and decrease your stress levels. And, naturally, avoid procrastination later on. Finishing the largest item on your to-do list will give you the productivity boost you need to do other assignments you may have pushed aside.
9. Change Your Perspective
Are things just not right in your usual study space? Or do you just not like it anymore? Maybe it’s too loud, too quiet, too dark or just too hot. Consider making a change. Try working in your local coffee shop, in a community library or a nearby park. The change in scenery and perspective will impact your productivity for the better.
How to Make Homework Less Work
Homework is your teachers’ way of evaluating how much you understand of what’s going on in class. But it can seem overwhelming at times. Luckily, you can do a few things to make homework less work.
Create a Homework Plan
Understand the assignment. Write it down in your notebook or planner, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what’s expected. It’s much easier to take a minute to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later that night.
If you have a lot of homework or activities, ask how long the particular homework assignment should take. That way you can budget your time.
Start right away. Just because it’s called “homework” doesn’t mean you have to do it at home. Use study periods or other extra time in your school day. The more you get done in school, the less you have to do at night.
Budget your time. If you don’t finish your homework at school, think about how much you have left and what else is going on that day. Most high-school students have between 1 and 3 hours of homework a night. If it’s a heavy homework day, you’ll need to devote more time to homework. It’s a good idea to come up with a homework schedule, especially if you’re involved in sports or activities or have an after-school job.
Watch Where You Work
When you settle down to do homework or to study, where do you do it? Parked in front of the TV? In the kitchen, with the sound of dishes being cleared and your brothers and sisters fighting?
Find a quiet place to focus. The kitchen table was OK when you were younger and homework didn’t require as much concentration. But now you’ll do best if you can find a place to get away from noise and distractions, like a bedroom or study.
Avoid studying on your bed. Sit at a desk or table that you can set your computer on and is comfortable to work at. Park your devices while you study. Just having your phone where you can see it can be a distraction. That makes homework take longer.
Get to Work
Tackle the hardest assignments first. It’s tempting to start with the easy stuff to get it out of the way. But you have the most energy and focus when you begin. Use this mental power on the subjects that are most challenging. Later, when you’re more tired, you can focus on the simpler things.
Keep moving ahead. If you get stuck, try to figure out the problem as best you can — but don’t spend too much time on it because this can mess up your homework schedule for the rest of the night. If you need to, ask an adult or older sibling for help. Or reach out to a classmate. Just don’t pick someone you’ll be up all night chatting with or you’ll never get it done!
Take breaks. Most people have short attention spans. Sitting for too long without stretching or relaxing will make you less productive than if you stop every so often. Taking a 15-minute break every hour is a good idea for most people. (If you’re really concentrating, wait until it’s a good time to stop.)
Get It Ready to Go
When your homework is done, put it in your backpack. There’s nothing worse than having a completed assignment that you can’t find the next morning. Now you’re free to hang out — without the guilt of unfinished work hanging over you.
Get Help When You Need It
Even when you pay attention in class, study for tests, and do your homework, some subjects seem too hard. You may hope that things will get easier, but most of the time that doesn’t happen.
What does happen for many people is that they work harder and harder as they fall further and further behind. There’s nothing embarrassing about asking for help. No one understands everything.
Start with your teacher or guidance counselor. Some teachers will work with students before or after school to explain things more clearly. But what if you don’t feel comfortable with your teacher? If your school is big, there may be other teachers who know the same subject. Sometimes it just helps to have someone new explain something in a different way.
Ask a classmate. If you know someone who is good at a subject, ask if you can study together. This may help, but keep in mind that people who understand a subject aren’t always good at explaining it.
Find a tutor. You’ll need to talk to an adult about this because it usually costs money to hire a tutor. Tutors come to your home or meet you someplace like the library or a tutoring center. They work with students to review and explain things taught in the classroom. This gives you the chance to ask questions and work at your own pace. Your teacher or guidance counselor can help you find a tutor if you’re interested.