How to Get Homework Done when You Don't Want To

Three Parts:Doing Homework Right NowPlanning Future HomeworkMotivating Yourself

Homework can be a drag, but it's got to be done. Get it done efficiently so you don't have to think about it during your free time. Schedule regular homework time, keep track of time, and break your work into manageable chunks. Find your motivation, and find ways to care about your work and to enjoy yourself along the way. Once you get organized, you'll get it done.

Part 1
Doing Homework Right Now

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    Set up your station. As soon as you get home from school, gather everything you will need to do your homework in front of you. Lay out the materials for each assignment you are going to do. Clear anything else off your work surface.[1]
    • If you have many textbooks and worksheets, stack them and put them to the side. Lay out the materials one at a time. Having a big pile of visible homework may stress you out.
    • Before you sit down, ask yourself: what am I about to do? What do I need to get it done?
    • Get things like pencils, erasers, calculators, rulers, and paper.
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    Pick a starter assignment. Generally, you should start with your hardest homework.[2] However, if you are having a really hard time getting started, ease yourself into homework mode by doing your easiest assignment first.[3] Zipping through a topic you are good at may motivate you to zip through the rest of your homework.
    • Do your hardest assignment second, and save your second-easiest assignment for last.
    • Don't save the hardest assignment for last—you may be tired by the time you reach the end of your homework pile.[4]
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    Walk away. Once you have your station set up and your starter assignment laid out, take a quick break. Get a snack, use the bathroom, walk the dog, text, or chat with your family for 15 minutes. Once you return to your desk, it will be easy to start.[5]
    • Setting up your first assignment and then walking away gets you subconsciously thinking about your homework.
    • Catch up with a family member about both of your days. When you come home from school, your brain is usually full of school thoughts. Take a moment to process and to hear how a parent or sibling's day went.
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    Set a specific goal and reward. Do your first assignment. Estimate how long it will take you.[6] Decide on a reward for finishing the assignment. Check the time, then try to finish the assignment in one shot. If it's a long assignment, break it into sections that will take less than 45 minutes each, and take a break in between sections.[7]
    • For instance, tell yourself that if you finish your first assignment in 20 minutes, you can go on your phone for 5.
    • Another example: you intend to finish your assignment in 20 minutes, but no matter how long it takes you, you get to walk around the block as soon as you're done.
    • Be careful with using food as a reward, as it can get you in the habit of snacking when you aren't hungry. If you're hungry, eat before you do your homework.[8]
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    Get help. If you are having trouble starting, or if you're just stuck on a problem, talk about the assignment with someone. Text or facetime a friend and chat about the homework you both have. Bring the assignment to a family member and ask them to talk about it with you. If you're stuck on something you don't understand, ask for help, or email your teacher.[9]
    • Sometimes just explaining what you have to do will help you understand it better.
    • Other times, the person you are talking to will notice something about the prompt that you overlooked.
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    Take breaks. Do your homework for 45 minute stretches with breaks in between.[10] Take a break for 15 minutes. Breaks are the time to get your reward, to use the bathroom or get a glass of water, and to move a little. They can also be a good moment to rearrange your homework station, if you're starting to feel stuck there.
    • Make sure you stand up and do something when it's your break, or you won't get your wiggles out.
    • Break long assignments into chunks, and switch between tasks every 45 minutes or every half hour.
    • Set a timer on your phone, or use a kitchen timer, to let yourself know when it's time to switch tasks.
    • If you can't concentrate for 45 minutes, try working for 20 minutes and breaking for 5.
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    Be strategic about entertainment. You might want to ease yourself into homework by having something enjoyable happening in the background, such as a show, music you like, or a chat with friends. However, if you get absorbed in your entertainment, you run the risk of forgetting to do your homework, or of doing a bad job.[11][12] If your homework requires a lot of concentration, dividing your attention will make you feel anxious and distracted. If you do choose to study with entertainment, turn it off (including your phone) once you're focusing on the hard stuff.
    • If you like to study with music, try music you know well, or music with no words.
    • When you're struggling to focus, sign out of your email and all social media so you don't check them as a reflex.

Part 2
Planning Future Homework

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    Keep a homework planner. Write all homework you are assigned in your planner, as well as when it is due. Write the other activities you have also: extracurricular activities, special events, time with friends. Write down when you need to start each long-term assignment, and how much you need to get done each day.
    • Having a planner will make it less tempting to procrastinate, as long as you have broken up your studying into manageable chunks.[13]
    • Your planner can be paper, or you can get one on your phone. Just make sure it has space for task lists as well as events.
    • Once you have completed a task, cross it off or put a check next to it. Seeing that you're getting your work done will make you feel better, which in turn will motivate you to keep up the good work.
    • Organize your daily tasks. Put your most important homework at the top.
    • Homework might be considered important if it is due soon, if it is worth a lot of your grade, or if the class is hard for you.
    • Don't put more than you can do in one day on a list! Split up your week's work so that every day has a manageable amount.
    • Make sure you do everything on your list everyday. The more seriously you take the list, the more useful it will be to you
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    Get a study buddy. Notice your friends who do well in school. Ask them if they'd like to form a homework group. Get together once or twice a week and work on your homework. You can work on the classes you have in common and ask each other questions, or you can work on assignments for different classes without talking.
    • Take turns working at one another's houses.
    • Make it the rule that you work for a certain amount of time, or until a certain amount of work has been accomplished. Afterward, you can hang out. Stick to this schedule.
    • Try this out and see if it works. If you're too distracted by having friends around, make a date to hang out after homework instead.
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    Compete. Set goals for yourself and work to match them. If you always struggle with a certain kind of assignment, set a goal to learn how to do it better. Try to beat your last grade in each class. If you did perfectly, remember that the teacher may have raised the expectations for the next assignment, and do your next assignment with even more energy.
    • Time yourself. Set time goals. Say "I'm going to finish this reading response in 20 minutes." Sit down with your materials, set a timer, and go.
    • If you have friends or study buddies who are competitive and good with homework, compete with them. As long as it doesn't stress your friendship, this can be a fun way to motivate yourself.
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    Have a daily or a weekly routine. Getting into a homework routine will help you get into a homework mindset. Try out different times and see which one works best for you. You might want to get your work done right when you get home from school, or you might want to take a half-hour break first.
    • If you have a job or extracurricular activities that change your daily schedule, determine a weekly schedule that you stick to as much as possible.
    • Set certain times on weekends that you stick to.
    • Getting your work done reliably will help you enjoy your free time.
    • Experiment with working for different amounts of time. You might try focusing on one task for 20 minutes, then switching to another task for another 20.
    • Once you know how much time you can focus, stick to it.

Part 3
Motivating Yourself

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    Encourage yourself. Be your own cheerleader. When you finish a task, tell yourself "good job!" When you're mid-task, encourage yourself to keep going, and note that you are making good progress. If you're alone or at home, you can talk aloud.
    • Talking to yourself can help you stay on task. If you get distracted, remind yourself out loud of what you need to do.[14]
    • Ask yourself questions like "What do I need to do next?"
    • If you're in a public place, say it to yourself silently.
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    Incorporate your own interests. Whenever you have an assignment with a topic you can choose, pick something that really interests you. For instance, if you have to write a paper about the civil war, pick a historical figure who you really admire or really despise. Topics that involve your feelings will be easier for you to think about for a long time.
    • If you don't have control over the subject, try to find connections between the topic and something you care about. Find aspects of the subject that interest you.
    • For instance, if you have to study History but you care the most about fashion, investigate the styles of the times and places you are studying. Learn how political and economical developments changed the way people dressed.
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    Work somewhere lovely. If you find your workplace pleasant, you'll associate that pleasure with your homework. Work in a clean room. Clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Set a workspace by a window or in a room you think is comfortable and attractive. Make sure your workplace is well lit, your chair is comfortable, and the noise level is low.
    • Try working in a public or school library for a change.
    • If you do your homework at night, work somewhere well-lit.
    • Don't work on a soft surface, like a bed or a couch, if you tend to doze off.
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    Take a long view. It can be really hard to stay motivated when you don't have a clear sense of what the point is. Some homework assignments turn out to be useful eventually, but some never do. If you feel like your work is pointless, make a list of the reasons to do it.
    • Reasons to do homework include: Learning something that will probably help with future assignments, even if you don't know what they are yet.
    • Proving to your teacher that you understand the homework so that she or he doesn't keep assigning it over and over.
    • Showing everyone that you are trying.
    • Getting a good grade.
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    Remember the importance of your GPA. If you care about your grades, it can be easy to remember why you are bothering with homework. If you don't care about your grades, train yourself to care. Getting bad grades can close doors for you in the long term and in the short term. Having the option of getting into a good college can make your whole life better.
    • Getting good grades can qualify you for scholarships and grants.
    • If you are in elementary or middle school, doing well in school can get you into a better high school when you are older.
    • In many school districts you need a certain GPA to get a work permit as a minor.[15]
    • Having a high GPA can get you a "good student" discount on your car insurance.[16]
    • If your school doesn't give grades, remember that your reputation still matters. Teachers, and your classmates, will think of you as dependable and hard working if you do your work.
    • If you are in high school, you need your teachers to think of you as a good student so they can recommend you for college, for jobs, and for scholarships.

Article Info

Categories: Homework Skills