How to Finish Your Homework

Three Parts:Managing Your TimeCreating a Productive Work EnvironmentUsing Your Resources

While studying can differ for different age groups, many of the things that get in the way are the same. Whether it's your environment or time management skills, it easy for things to discourage you from finishing your homework. With a little organization and help, your homework can become approachable.

Part 1
Managing Your Time

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    Set aside a specific time to do your homework.[1] Doing your homework at the same time each day will help you develop a regular routine.[2] For instance, try setting aside a time you know you can work well such as an hour or two before dinner, or if you're a night owl, after dinner. Just make sure it's a time when you'll likely be alert and motivated.
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    Work in blocks of time with breaks in between each block. Studies suggest that the most productive students and workers in general are the ones who take breaks, as it helps to recharge your brain.[3] Work in hour blocks, with 50 minutes spent studying and 10 minutes spent taking a break.[4]
    • It can also be helpful to move around when you are taking your break, especially if you are working at a screen.[5]
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    Prioritize tasks. Knowing which assignments are most important and which will take the most time will help you manage your time effectively. Don't forget to include time for revisions, corrections, or other additional parts of an assignment (such as going to the library or to the store for materials).[6]
    • Identify which assignments are worth the most points for each class. Most likely these will take the longest to complete.[7]
    • Consider how long you have to do each project, and if possible, see when the assignment is introduced. Oftentimes, primary and secondary school classes do not have syllabi, so it might be harder to plan out an entire term, but if you are in college, you will most likely have a syllabus with at least a partial course schedule. Knowing how long you have to complete an assignment will help you prioritize which assignments to do first. You can also ask the teacher how long you have to complete an assignment.[8]
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    Create a schedule. Make sure that your schedule effectively shows assignment due dates, other obligations, and specific time-blocks for completing assignments. This will help you visualize your schedule, and help you remember your homework. It will also help with prioritizing your assignments.[9]
    • Use highlighters or stickers to mark which assignments are most important.
    • If you're using an online or mobile schedule, create alerts or notifications for the projects and any time-sensitive steps for those projects.
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    Make sure to complete the most pressing assignments first.[10] It might be easier to do all of your 5-point quizzes right now for an online class your taking, but procrastinating working on a major research paper that is due much sooner will likely have negative effect on your grade. Besides, it will be easier to complete other assignments once you've gotten the biggest ones out of the way. However, it is also important not to let a big project overshadow the smaller assignments you need to complete.
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    Break down larger projects into manageable tasks. This can mean breaking down a packet of math problems into separate sections to be worked on at different times. For something like a research paper, it can mean dividing the assignment in to the planning, researching, writing, and revision stages.[11] You might even create an outline of the steps in order to visualize the necessary tasks to get the assignment done.
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    Don't multitask. While multitasking seems as though it would save time, it often results in taking longer to do more tasks. It also decreases performance of cognitive tasks.[12] So, not only should you not multitask between assignments, but you should avoid multitasking with television or social media as well.

Part 2
Creating a Productive Work Environment

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    Find a comfortable, but not too comfortable, place to work. Environments can help or harm your productivity. You'll want a place that's quiet and not too busy, but you'll also want to avoid places where you could easily fall asleep. If you have a desk or a table, that might be a better location than a couch or a bed.[13]
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    Minimize social distractions. While working in groups can sometimes help especially with difficult subjects like physics and calculus, they can also be a distraction from getting work done. In order to maximize study time when you're alone, you'll need to un-plug to get the most out of your time. Though you may still feel the temptation to socialize, it should be easier to avoid the temptations when you've minimized the social distractions.
    • Turn your phone off or on silent (not vibrate). It might be best to put the phone out of sight, or in another room while you work, as the temptation to text or get on social media can be as much of a distraction as actually using social media.[14]
    • Use an app that blocks social media. There are plenty of applications out there that can help block social media and other distracting sites (such as shopping or gaming sites).[15]
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    Minimize noise. Noise has been linked to decreased performance and increased stress levels, neither of which are good for doing homework.[16] While certain kinds of noise such as the sounds of a coffee shop or music may help some people focus, it can easily turn into a distraction, as in the case of a loud group of people who suddenly come into a coffee shop. For best results, find a way to study in quiet.
    • Use a white noise app to block out noise.[17]
    • Use earplugs or noise-blocking earmuffs. [18]
    • Work in a quiet place, such as a library or a home office, if you have one.
    • Avoid listening music while studying. Studies have shown that although listening to music while studying lowers overall performance, this does not affect everyone equally. [19] However listening to music before studying has been shown to improve performance on cognitive tasks.[20]

Part 3
Using Your Resources

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    Ask your parents or peers for help. Parent involvement in homework has been shown to help with homework completion and improved academic performance.[21] Peers are also a valuable resource in learning. Asking a friend for help in understanding a concept or an assignment can go a long way in helping you complete your homework on time.[22]
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    Ask your teacher for help or clarification. While it can feel daunting to ask a teacher for help on an assignment or for clarification on an assignment, their goal is to help you understand what they're teaching. Most likely, they'll be glad you've reached out for help, and will do their best to assist you. [23] If you're too afraid to ask a teacher during class, see if you can stay behind to ask your questions.
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    Find a tutor (if available). Sometimes, a tutor can be a great resource for improving your understanding of a subject.[24] Tutors are a great resource, as they have knowledge of your subject, and one-on-one instruction can help you understand the material in a way that in-class discussion might not have. It is also often easier to ask questions of your tutor rather than in front of the whole class.
    • First, contact your school to see if there are any after-school tutoring programs. While not all primary and secondary schools offer tutoring, a vast majority of universities do. If your school does not offer tutoring, they may know of other resources for you to contact.
    • Then, contact your library to see if they offer any tutoring.[25]
    • In some areas, there may also be free community tutoring programs. Contact your local community center for more information.
    • There are plenty of private tutors out there as well, but they can be costly (ranging any where from $10 to $40 an hour).[26] You can find tutors online through a number of websites, such as Craigslist or Angie's list.
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    Go to the library. In addition to having books and other useful materials for homework, many libraries offer quiet places for study. Many libraries offer other resources such as tutoring, reference librarians, and, at many academic libraries, subject specific librarians. If you need to work at a library after school, ask your parents or search the web to find your local library.[27]

Tips

  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Warnings

  • If you are under the age of thirteen, you may need to obtain your parents’ permission before downloading any computer applications.
  • Some people may need additional help in order to focus on their homework and finish it. If you are struggling in school, ask your parents or teachers about what resources may be available, and seek out professional help or ask your parents to do so, if necessary.
  • Recommended time doing homework varies by age. The National PTA recommends about 10 minutes per grade level per night (30 minutes a night for the third grade). [28]

Sources and Citations

  1. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/homework_help_your_child_develop_key_homework_skills
  2. http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/tips-change/power-habit-charles-duhigg
  3. http://www.fastcompany.com/3035605/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/the-exact-amount-of-time-you-should-work-every-day
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Article Info

Categories: Homework Skills