Recruitment is over, syllabus week has passed and it's time for real school to begin. We were able to breeze through class last week without homework, enabling us to go out every night without a care in the world (or to binge watch Netflix 'til your eyeballs fell out). But, summer vacation is long gone, and now we actually have to use our brains. Homework takes over Netflix time and late night pizza is replaced by coffee to fuel your all-nighter for the test that mean old professor sprung on you. Feel like you'll never be able to switch your summer mode off and tune back into school mode? You're probably procrastinating right now, which is why you're reading this article. While you're here, try out some of these tips to get your homework done in a timely manner.
1. Get off your phone.
These days, we don't do anything without our phones in our hands. I know I feel naked going out in public without it. But as hard as it may be, you have to get off your phone if you want to focus on your homework. We all know the drill- you're doing homework, you get a text from a friend, and all of a sudden you look up and realize you've been scrolling Twitter for the past 15 minutes. Research shows that every time you're distracted while doing work (texting, social media scrolling), it takes about 23 minutes to refocus on your task. So put your phone on silent, turn it off, or put it in your backpack for an hour or two- whatever it takes to keep you off of Instagram. I promise, all the notifications can wait, and they'll be there for you when you're done.
2. Make a list.
If you don't already have a planner, I would really like to know how you've made it this far without one. That being said, if you don't have one, get one! And use it! Actually write down your assignments when the teacher gives them so you don't lose unnecessary points by forgetting about things. When you sit down to do your work, make a to-do list. It helps to see everything written in one place, and you can prioritize your assignments according to when they're due.
3. Allot time for each activity.
There's no need to spend 2 hours on your Philosophy 101 homework when you could be studying for your actually important Calculus test. Give yourself an allotted amount of time for each activity so that you don't waste time on the easy stuff. Then you can actually spend time on the big things.
4. Take a break.
Cat videos can help with your homework too. No, really. Scientists suggest working for around 50 minutes and then taking a break. Being able to give your mind a rest actually increases productivity when you get back to work. So get up and walk around, or watch some funny videos. Just make sure your break doesn't last longer than 17 minutes, which is said to be the maximum amount of beneficial break time.
5. Treat yourself.
If you're having a hard time bringing yourself to write that 7 page English essay or read the 80 million chapters assigned in your Chem textbook, think of something to motivate yourself. For example, tell yourself that for every 2 pages you write, you'll watch an episode of Netflix later. Or my personal favorite, food. Maybe you get some goldfish for every page you read in your book, or a Starbucks drink for every chapter. Whatever you've gotta do to get through.
6. Learn to say "No."
It's college. There's always going to be something going on. Sometimes you have to be spontaneous and go on a late night Taco Bell run with your friends, and sometimes you have to conquer your FOMO and say no. As tempting as it may be to ditch your paper and go next door for Wine Wednesday, school just has to come first. Your GPA will thank you later, and you can celebrate twice as hard tomorrow night after you've turned it in.
7. Listen to classical music.
It may sound weird (okay, it sounds really weird), but listening to classical music can actually boost your grades. Researcher say that listening to music with words can be distracting while you're doing homework because it engages the language-processing part of your brain, making it difficult to focus on the information at hand and inhibiting the recall of that information later. But Mozart is said to help with spatial reasoning, which allows you to better solve problems logically. If you can't bring yourself to listen to classical music, try out some ambient music (rain noise, ocean waves, some lovely babbling brooks). It engages your subconscious mind and lets you concentrate better.
8. Stand up
Coffee not doing the trick to keep you awake? Just stand up! If you stand up for a few minutes every 20 minutes, the muscles in your legs and back contract, increasing blood flow to your brain (and making it more active). As an added bonus, you'll burn calories! Well not that many, but every little bit counts, right?