In a time of digital media, a world of distractions is at your fingertips so, minimizing as many distractions as possible will help get homework off your to-do list quicker and more efficiently. Here are a few tricks to help get you started.
Cultivating the Perfect Environment:
In order to save memory for more important tasks your brain builds associations between objects and actions. For example, the dining room is associated with eating, the kitchen with cooking, and the bedroom with sleeping. These associations are especially useful when trying to build an environment that primes your brain for homework. If you can designate a room in your house for homework, then you are already on the right track however, if this is not the case there are other actions you can take. Begin with finding a desk that you will use exclusively for schoolwork and not for any other activities such as, video games. Building a homework environment is not limited to the actual location.
Other Environmental Factors to Consider:
• Do you focus better in a warmer or colder room?
• Do you prefer warmer (orange) light or colder (blue) light?
• Do you prefer perfect silence or listening to music?
• If you prefer to listen to music, can you concentrate with or without lyrics?
Once again, these are only examples and if you stumble upon other factors that make or break your environment feel free to adjust.
Being surrounded by clutter and mess is no fun in fact, it can be quite stressful. Having papers scattered all over your desk before getting to work is just one more distraction from getting your homework done. It should be a no-brainer, but it is worth a mention. Everyday after you finish your homework, make sure to clean your desk and revert it back to its original state. This ensures that the next day you will get to your homework much faster. Remove everything you don’t need for your current task from your desk and ensure you have all your papers, pens, pencils and, other materials at hand. An organized environment will allow you to stay focused for longer.
If you are constantly getting up from your desk to get something, you will begin to forget where you left off, and eventually you will have to rethink through all the homework. Lastly, creating a filing system at home can be very useful; filing older assignments away will ensure less clutter while working and easier referencing to previous material when studying.
Physical clutter is distracting, but the effects of mental clutter can be even worse. Have you ever just thought about all the tests and projects in the upcoming week and felt completely stress out? We have all been there and experienced that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start. It is something every student goes through, but it can be avoided. Using simple organizers such as a planner, to-do list, or a calendar are all strategies for decluttering your mind. By writing things down you ease the stress level by allowing your brain to forget about it and use the energy towards something else. Want to go the extra mile and further reduce stress? Block out the time it will take to complete each task so that you can better plan your days and weeks.
The greatest source of distraction for students at this time is digital media. It is the phone in your pocket, the TV in the living room, and video games on your desk. The first tip for minimizing digital distractions is, if you do not need it, put it away. Instead of using your iPhone for math use a calculator. If you are struggling to stay focused because of your devices consider using apps such as Freedom and Anti-Social, both provide features that will limit your internet access to keep you on track with your assignments.
If you trust yourself enough, the Pomodoro Technique might be the way to go. This technique regimes your homework time into intervals of 25 minutes of intense work, then five minutes of break. After 4 repetitions of this (one hour and 40 minutes of laser focus work,) you can take a break for a longer interval such as 30 minutes. If you can hold yourself to this standard without falling into routine checks of your social media account, then your homework will be done in no time. Lastly, with most assignments being completed and submitted online it is crucial to keep organized files on your computer. Whether you use, OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox, accurately labelling and filing your work will make it easy to navigate, and less likely that you will be frantically scrolling through folders trying to find that one paper minutes before submission.
If your student is struggling to stay organized and is falling behind due to poor academic management there is help available. A tutor or learning center can set them up for success by empowering them with specific organizational tools and tactics. Academic management programs will teach students how to stay on task by developing new ways of thinking, habits, and routines that directly impact schoolwork and day-to-day living.