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Homework Help: 11 Tips and Hacks for Focusing on Homework

With lots of other things to be seeing or doing, getting your homework done can quickly slide down your list of priorities. We’ve all had times when we’d rather be doing anything else than work, but it’s important to stay focused on the bigger picture and get it done.

This guide is full of tips to help you remain focused and motivated when it comes to your homework.

A student completes homework on an Apple Mac

11 Ways to Focus on Your Homework  

It’s easy to lose focus and motivation when trying to finish a piece of homework. Next time you feel your mind wandering, try some of these 11 tips and tricks for regaining focus.

1. Get rid of distractions  

There are so many distractions in the modern world. Look around your room and you’ll find plenty of things that could take your attention away from your homework, whether it’s a TV, laptop, tablet, smartphone, games console or books.

In the past, you could have got home from school and, without agreeing to meet your friends in the park later, you’d be unlikely to speak to your friends and classmates until the next day – but today they’re just on the other end of a phone.

Focusing on homework means removing the potential for other things to catch your focus. Whatever it might be - switch it off, put it out of sight, it will be there when you’re finished.

2. Tell family and friends you’re not available  

If your family and friends don’t contact you, the chances of you becoming distracted when doing your work reduces. At school during the day, let your friends know you’re busy doing some work that evening. That way they won’t send you messages asking you to the park or to come online on the Xbox or PlayStation.

The same goes for parents and siblings. Let them know what time you plan to be working and ask them not to disturb you at this time. That way they can plan around you, making sure your evening meal doesn’t come within this time for example.

This can also be used as a motivator to work hard. Are your friends playing video games tonight? Are they having a kick around in a local park? You don’t want to miss out, but your homework needs to be done. Get your head down and finish it, using the possibility of joining your friends as your motivator.

3. Use productivity apps

There is one significant hurdle to the idea of removing distractions like your phone and TV. Some devices, like your laptop or computer, are necessary for doing your work. You can’t just throw these in a draw and ignore them, but there are still things you can do to reduce the distractions these provide.

With an app like Cold Turkey or Freedom, you can block certain websites for hours or days at a time, meaning you can stay away from distracting websites or social media networks until the job is done. In Freedom’s case, this can extend to apps on your smartphone or tablet too.

There are plenty of options out there but, to give another example, try Mindful Browsing. It’s a little less harsh than straight-up blocking websites, instead aiming to calmly nudge you back to what you should be doing.

4. Set out a routine  

Without clear structure and organisation, it can be easy to put off doing work, thinking you’ll return to it later. A good routine is one of the first steps to increasing productivity – and this takes very little effort to put in place.

This can take any form of your choosing. You can draw up a detailed schedule, with subject breakdowns, checklists, and free slots for breaks, or you can just keep it all up in your head. Have an idea of how much time you’ll need to do what you need to do and plan the rest of your evening around the time you’ve allocated.

The form that your routine or schedule takes isn’t important, what counts is sticking to it.

5. Reward yourself 

A great idea for giving yourself greater motivation is to set out some rewards. We’ve already mentioned one option – joining your friends for some fun – but there are plenty of other things you can do to motivate yourself.

Set up a system whereby you complete an hour or so of work, then gain a small reward. This can be anything from a drink, a snack, or even just a 10-minute break. These small things may appear insignificant, but they are a great way of breaking down one big homework session into smaller, more manageable chunks.

6. Take breaks 

Even if it isn’t directly a part of a rewards system, breaks are incredibly important. You might think that reducing the time you’re working by five or ten minutes will result in less work being done. However, by allowing yourself to escape for just a few minutes, you’ll actually increase the rate you work at.

Those five minutes away give your mind a rest and keep you fresh and focused when you get back at it. Just make sure you don’t let your break stretch too long. Before you know it, an hour has passed and it’s harder to get back on track.

7. Try some music 

Some people find that music is one of the best ways to remain focused on what they’re doing. There are two reasons why this might be the case. First, music activates both the left and right sides of your brain. With both sides activated, some studies have found that learning characteristics like memory are improved. Secondly, music is also a stress reliever. Unburdening yourself from stress and anxiety allows you to remain focused on your work.

If you’re going to give this a try, there are a few things to keep in mind. Classical music is considered to work best, but something soothing and without lyrics is a must. Ambient or nature-based sounds are good too – just something with a steady tempo that keeps you calm.


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