Do you ever feel overwhelmed after the school day is over and can’t find a way to shut off your brain? Focussing on homework might be last thing you want to do at that point. How can you overcome the resistance and get it done either way?
It seems like there’s always work to be done for your studies. Also at times when you can’t seem to concentrate.
So how do we get our minds to understand how to focus on homework? Especially when it’s is the last thing we feel like doing. Yet, we know that if we leave it for tomorrow, it will pile up and create even more pressure…
The right study habits and concentration techniques will most definitely help you out — and that’s exactly what we are going to explore in this article.
How To Focus On Studying In A World Of Distractions
We live in the era of distraction.
Countless factors are constantly fighting for our attention: social media, other people, things we could potentially be doing at any moment, our doubts, our overthinking, our anxious thoughts and expectations, the temptations around us (such as buying something shiny or eating junk food)… And all of this makes us feel as though we lose control over our mind.
If you’re wondering how to focus on homework and get better grades, then focus is something you need to get back at all cost.
Every student needs this skill.
We will discuss specific study habits later in this article, but first you need to understand how to focus on studying. For that, here are the two key principles that will make you (more) successful in your studies:
1. Identify The Distractions In Your Surroundings
What are the things in your daily life (and in your head, for that matter) that take your mind away from your studies (or any other task in front of you)?
Clearly identifying these helps you understand both the problem and what causes it. Understanding these leads us to finding the right solution to overcoming them.
While many of these types of distractions were mentioned earlier, digital distractions are one of the worst kind— and according to studies, their effect is on the rise in the classroom. If you’re looking to gain more concentration and thus, form better study habits, question your online behavior first and foremost.
2. Limit The Use Of Technology To Find Focus
What’s the role of social media in your daily life? Have you ever sat down to calculate not just how much time you spend on social media daily, but also how horribly it distracts you from doing the things you should be doing? When you are wondering how to focus on homework long after you’ve put your phone away, you’re still thinking about the last posts you saw on Facebook. The sound of new notifications might cause anxiety, or your own eagerness to see the reactions to a comment you left might distract you.
And then comes the information overload, the fear of missing out, and the all-too-common signs of addictive behavior. Technology is affecting your mind more than ever, and it’s taking your focus away.
But once you understand that you can improve your concentration by ditching the distractions, then it’s time to think about forming the right study habits. . .
4 Study Habits To Help You Learn How To Focus On Homework
1. Have a routine.
Routines help us be productive without exerting too much effort. When having homework to do, a study routine can be the reason we actually sit down, set enough time aside, concentrate, and stay focused until we complete the project.
This process doesn’t need to be complicated: just tell yourself that you will sit at your desk at home once you’re back from school (after a small meal and some rest, of course). Put your phone on silent, make an outline of the work that needs to get done, and simply begin with what’s most important.
2. Create an environment that breeds creativity and productivity.
You need a special place for studying. Don’t think you can just study anywhere, that’s not how our brain works. Lying in bed with your notebook is a distraction, as is being in the living room with your laptop while others are doing their activities.
You need an isolated place when you decide to focus on your homework. Make it feel comfortable, such as adding plants, organizing everything on your desk, decluttering (and keeping it clean), letting more light in, perhaps hang up some motivational posters/daily affirmations, etc.
3. Avoid certain things beforehand.
Wanna know how to focus on homework?
Don’t have a big meal beforehand. Big meals can ruin your focus and make you feel sluggish and lazy. A snack is okay. There are also some foods, though, that are just plain bad for your productivity; you can check them out here.
Avoid doing anything too engaging, as well, as then it can be hard to leave it and find willpower for your studies. Your better study habits are also affected by your self-control. So know when to stop doing something, calm your mind with some deep breathing, stretching, or even taking a walk, and then go do what needs to be done.
4. Organize your study notes.
One of the main reasons students avoid doing homework when the time comes, is that the “big picture” scares them. It seems like a lot to do, and they are overwhelmed on where to start.
So, prioritize. Keep lists and put the most important items on the top. Then work on the items that you should get done first.
Make an outline for everything and break it down into smaller steps. Then, use colors to highlight the essentials. This makes it all look much simpler and you’re more likely to actually get started.
5. Tell others to respect your study time.
People entering the room or calling you when you are trying to study isn’t good for your mind and creative energy. So simply let them know you need some privacy.
Decide on fixed hours for studying and tell them you won’t be available during that time of the day.
6. Try listening to study/focus music.
There are many tracks out there designed to help your mind focus. Whether you use binaural beats or just instrumental music, they can really help to tune your brain into a productive frequency.
This meditation music from OmHarmonics is also great to listen to; it puts your mind in a clear, concise, and ready-to-take-on-the-world mode:
7. Set deadlines.
Even if your teacher has already given you deadlines for each assignment, set new ones yourself at earlier dates. This helps you build discipline, learn how to focus on studying, and prioritize every day.
8. Have “brain breaks” more often.
You might not know this, but frequent breaks actually increase your productivity and focus. By understanding the science of homework, you’ll see that after each study session, the brain needs to be engaged with something different — you need to keep active another part of it, before going back to your studies, so that you can reach top performance.
So there you have it— that’s how to focus on homework when you really aren’t in the mood for it and feel more distracted than ever.
What other suggestions do you have?
And what study habits do you want to build next to improve your concentration?
Share with us in the comment section below!
Education for People Who Refuse to Fit into the Ordinary World
Technology & Its Challenges During Homework Time
6 tips to best use technology for school related work.
My 13 year old son is doing his homework on an iPad (provided by the school). While doing that, he stays connected to his teachers and classmates via his smartphone, chatting and asking questions, and (how can I forget…) sharing memes.
My 10 years old daughter gets most of her school assignment on paper, but on occasions she needs to send her work via google docs, do a research for a class project on-line, or prepare a presentation to share with her class using Power Point - for those she uses the house computer.
My neighbor’s son is in high school, where I was told kids can bring their own laptop to take notes and do homework. When her son comes home from school, he locks himself in his room (typical teenage boy behavior, so I was told), listens to music on the iPad, and chats with his friends on his iPhone, while the laptop is open for the current homework assignment.
My kids and my neighbor’s kid are not alone, we see more and more students using technology for their homework. Student surveys show almost third are using a tablet for it, while like my son, 65% are using a laptop for homework.
To make it even more challenging, 39% of 14 year olds reported using a smartphone to complete their homework, 42% of 6th graders, while 57% of 8th graders did the same (based on a study from Teen Research Unlimited, done for the Verizon Foundation found).
Thereare Great Benefits for Technology When It Comes Homework
Many schools have an interface or learning management system, like Edmodo or seasaw, in place that allows parents to view homework assignments and their own child’s progress.
Having the option to rely on technology makes scheduling easier. With tools like Google calendar, and other calendar apps, a 7th grader can have all assignment in the calendar. And Google can remind him or her to study for a test. It can also show the list of projects scheduled for the following week, making it easier to plan ahead.
Plus, teachers are more accessible as many are on social media for the students to contact with and ask questions.
For parents, it’s an easy window to see the child’s progress and keep an eye on what’s going on at school. For the child, the ability to finish and submit homework electronically, lower the chances of forgetting to submit or lose homework sheets, that make a big difference — make the already stressful life a bit easier for both.
When Getting Down to Do Homework
In a study conducted by Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University — Dominguez Hills, he surveyed high school students and asked them how often they switch from studying to doing something related to technology such as checking email, social media, texting, or even watching TV. Across all grade levels, 80% of students reported that they switch between studying and technology somewhat often to very often. Rosen calls this “Continuous Partial Attention”, meaning that most of the time, students are not focused on studying but rather are moving their attention back and forth between studying and various forms of technology.
Rosen explains, “Young people’s technology use is really about quelling anxiety…they don’t want to miss out or to be the last person to hear some news (or like or comment about a post online).” One of the major problems with texting and posting on social media sites while in class and/or studying, is that “they draw on the same mental resources — using language, parsing meaning — demanded by schoolwork”. Ultimately, he concludes, if we want students to learn and perform at their best, smartphones and other online distractions must be managed.
This, as you might expect, affected their grades, and quality of work. Students who were less distracted had higher GPAs than students who switched back and forth often and those who regularly check Facebook or text messages. Students who had strategies for studying also had higher GPAs per Rosen’s findings.
My Tips to Stay Focused
As you can see, technology use, while it has a lot to offer our kids in and out of school, has a cost. We just need to make sure we stay on top of it.
Boundaries - If we want our children to succeed at school and be able to utilize technology (and we all do), we need to set boundaries. Discuss with your child the appropriate time and place to use technology, and make sure they follow those rules. For example, when working on their huge social studies assignment, the TV and the phone with social media need to be off.
Tech breaks - Teach him or her to take technology breaks, in-order to separate doing homework from using technology. Go shoot some hoops, grab something to eat, ride the bike around the block, etc.
Tech free zone - If an assignment can be done with pen and paper, make sure technology is not in the room. Yes, they can listen to music but that’s it.
Turn off notifications while doing homework. The constant notifications are known to interfere with concentrating on the task in hand, and draw them into something they should not be doing.
Use parental control tools to block their usage on their devices when it’s time for homework.
Keep on talking - Lastly, keep the conversation going. Whether if it’s with reminding them of the need to take a technology break or refining the rules you set.
The school year is almost over, but it’s not too late to start making those changes, actually it’s even better. For those who are facing finals, it can improve their studying, and ultimately their final grades; and for the rest, it will give a head-start for the next school year, as it will already be part of their familiar routine.
Tali Orad, Founder & CEO of Screen / Founder of B.E.CPR, Inc
Entrepreneur and engineer, but most importantly, a mom to a son and two daughters, little angels that were spending way too much time on their electronic devices. That’s what inspired Tali to create Screen and reconnect with her family.