How many times have you found yourself still staring at your textbook around midnight (or later!) even when you started your homework hours earlier? Those lost hours could be explained by Parkinson’s Law, which states, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, if you give yourself all night to memorize those geometry formulas for your quiz tomorrow, you’ll inevitably find that a 30 minute task has somehow filled your entire evening.
We know that you have more homework than ever. But even with lots and lots to do, a few tweaks to your study routine could help you spend less time getting more accomplished.
Here are 8 steps to make Parkinson’s Law work to your advantage:
1. Make a list
This should be a list of everything that has to be done that evening. And we mean, everything—from re-reading notes from this morning’s history class to quizzing yourself on Spanish vocabulary.
2. Estimate the time needed for each item on your list
You can be a little ruthless here. However long you think a task will take, try shaving off 5 or 10 minutes. But, be realistic. You won’t magically become a speed reader.
3. Gather all your gear
Collect EVERYTHING you will need for the homework you are working on (like your laptop for writing assignments and pencils for problem sets). Getting up for supplies takes you off course and makes it that much harder to get back to your homework.
The constant blings and beeps from your devices can make it impossible to focus on what you are working on. Switch off or silence your phones and tablets, or leave them in another room until it’s time to take a tech break.
5. Time yourself
Noting how much time something actually takes will help you estimate better and plan your next study session.
6. Stay on task
If you’re fact checking online, it can be so easy to surf on over to a completely unrelated site. A better strategy is to note what information you need to find online, and do it all at once at the end of the study session.
7. Take plenty of breaks
Most of us need a break between subjects or to break up long stretches of studying. Active breaks are a great way to keep your energy up. Tech breaks can be an awesome way to combat the fear of missing out that might strike while you are buried in your work, but they also tend to stretch much longer than originally intended. Stick to a break schedule of 10 minutes or so.
8. Reward yourself!
Finish early? If you had allocated 30 minutes for reading a biology chapter and it only took 20, you can apply those extra 10 minutes to a short break—or just move on to your next task. If you stay on track, you might breeze through your work quickly enough to catch up on some Netflix.
Our best piece of advice? Keep at it. The more you use this system, the easier it will become. You’ll be surprised by how much time you can shave off homework just by focusing and committing to a distraction-free study plan.
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Homework is no fun, especially if you’ve got a full schedule. You only have a little bit of time and a little bit of energy. And it takes so long to get through it.
Not anymore. We’ve got some helpful homework hacks for you that will make doing your homework faster and less painful.
1. Plan Your Homework and Make a List
When you start your homework, you’ll probably jump right into the first thing on your mind or the first thing you pull out of your backpack, then work your way through the rest of your assignments. There’s a better way.
Figure out how much time you have to do homework, then list out all the different tasks that you have to do. Estimate how long it will take to complete each assignment to see if you need to allow yourself more time. Be realistic. Once your list is complete you can work straight through instead of stopping frequently to figure out what to do next. It will also be extremely gratifying to cross things off after each assignment you finish!
2. Get Out All the Books and Supplies You Need
While you’re working, you discover you need a calculator, you need a certain book, you need a new pencil, you ran out of paper… the list can go on.
Since you’ve now identified all your assignments, figure out everything you need to get each item done and bring it to your workspace so it’s there when you need it.
3. Find a Quiet Place to Work Without Distractions
Speaking of workspace, you probably prefer doing your homework in front of the TV, but that can actually be the biggest distraction of all. Sitting in front of the TV is probably slowing you down, making homework time seem much longer that it actually is.
Find a place that’s quiet, with as few distractions and clutter possible. Remember, the faster you get it done, the faster you can get back to fully enjoying Netflix.
4. Turn Off Your Phone
We know this is probably the last thing you want to hear. How can you live without your phone? But for a couple hours, its totally worth it. Every time you get a notification and check your phone, it breaks your focus. It then takes more brain power to get back on track to what you were working on.
5. Listen to Classical Music While Working
We know what you’re thinking… Classical music? Seriously?
However, classical music is great for background audio. There aren’t any lyrics or beats to distract your focus. And research has shown that students who listen to classical music score higher on tests than students who listen to other genres of music. So find some good classical playlist on Spotify, then celebrate with Queen Bey when you’re done.
6. Eat Snacks and Drink Water
At the end of a long day, you may be mentally and physically tired. If you go straight into homework it may take you a long time to finish and it won’t be your best work.
Having some light healthy snacks and drinking plenty of water helps revitalize your brain and body. Avoid soda, energy drinks, or sugary snacks that will only make you crash before you’re done.
7. Take Short Breaks in Between Homework Tasks
If you have a lot to do, you may feel the pressure to just work straight through hours and hours of homework. But this will likely end up slowing you down, prolonging the entire session.
Do your work in short sprints. Go hard at a task, then take a quick break to stretch and walk around. It’ll re-energize your mind and body to keep going. For starters, try working for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break.
8. Reward Yourself After You’re Finished
Homework isn’t always fun. But negativity can slow you down.
Our brains work off of reward systems. If you give yourself a reward when finishing your homework, it makes it a lot easier to start your homework the next time and you’ll get through it faster. Rewards could be being able to watch a show, eat ice cream, play a game, or going out and doing something fun.
Now that you’ve got all these tips, go get your homework done faster than ever before. It may be hard at first, but keep using these tips and it’ll get easier as you go.
Featured Image: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock
Filed Under: Student LifeTagged With: homework, productivity, study, Tips