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
Cleveland — Chances are that in the next few seconds something will lure you away from this essay: an incoming text, an email, a sexier headline on this page, even a link within this piece. For those of you who will succumb to one of these distractions, I bid you farewell and hope that we’ll meet again on Twitter, whose format was perfectly designed for our new culture of interruption.
For those of you who just checked email or your Instagram feed and have returned to this piece, welcome back. I’m not offended. This is the new world order.
Office workers are interrupted – or self-interrupt – roughly every three minutes, according to recent studies. And it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task. That’s according to an article in The Wall Street Journal that references the work of Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction. Now I’m no math whiz, but doesn’t that mean that the typical office worker never really gets back on task?
A recent study reported on NBCnews.com observed teens in their normal homework/study environments – bedroom, library, kitchen table. They were told to work on an important school assignment for 15 minutes. Although they knew they were being observed, the vast majority of students didn’t make it past two minutes without texting or checking social media.
But this is not a generational thing. More than 60 percent of adults have smart phones, which means most of us have willingly turned ourselves into Pavlov’s dogs, edgy and distracted, awaiting the next stimuli. I see people of all ages around me abandoning the moment they’re in to search for something better. We do it at meetings, during conversations with our spouses or children, at restaurants and baseball games. I’m not pointing fingers; I do it, too. It’s almost impossible not to.
My friend Kevin, a writer and filmmaker in his 40s, recently did something about all the digital distraction in his life: He turned in his iPhone 5 and got a flip phone. Within days, he was a new man. He reports being more focused, more creative, calmer, happier. He says he’s able to read books again, to get lost in a novel or a long carefully-crafted argument.
Kevin may be one of the few people out there to go back to a flip phone, but he’s not the first person to wonder if he’d lost the ability to read books. Nicholas Carr started writing “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brain,” after realizing that he couldn’t focus long enough to get engaged in a book anymore. Maryanne Wolf, a neuroscientist at Tufts University and one of the world’s leading experts on the study of reading, had to re-train herself to read long-form fiction. In a Washington Post article, she recounts not being able to get past the first page of a Herman Hesse novel. She spent two weeks taking a break from the Internet to help her regain the cognitive focus necessary to read.
If these intellectual giants are having trouble reading, how do you think your teenager is doing? Not very well, according to a new survey by Common Sense Media, which found that the number of teens that never (or hardly ever) read for pleasure has tripled in the past three decades. About half of 17 year olds admit that they only read for pleasure once or twice a year.
To read a novel, once upon a time, all you had to do was suspend your disbelief. Now you have to suspend your belief that the world will end if you lose digital access for a few hours. To enter the story, to really escape, you have to unplug. And that’s just not an option for so many people today.
And that’s a shame. Because reading is still the best way to lose yourself, in my opinion. Some might argue for meditation or yoga, but reading is the one activity that gets me completely outside of my self. Great fiction increases our empathic powers and loosens ego’s grip. When I enter the mind of a carefully drawn character, I stop picking at all the scabs of my emotional life, at least for a while. I forget about upcoming presentations, I stop keeping score, and I relax.
Every year my family spends a week at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I spend the week on the couch – it’s too distracting to read at the beach – with two fat novels. I come home refreshed, not by sun and sand, but by fiction. I am lighter because, for a week, I am freed from the burden of lugging myself around.
To read is at once to live in the moment and to escape time. It’s as close to spirituality as some of us can get. And it won’t happen if we can’t let go of disbelief – and our smart phones – for at least a few hours at a time.
Jim Sollisch is creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising.