Updated: Feb 2
With the stress of new classes and teachers, extracurriculars, and standardized tests, you may find it difficult to motivate yourself to finish your work on time, let alone get ahead in your classes. Luckily, there are some ways to make a change and improve your work habits.
Keeping workplace organized
First things first... keep your workspace organized and tidy! Throw or store old class papers, put away unnecessary materials or extra writing utensils, and when doing homework for a class, put away other subjects’ work. Neglecting to do these things may distract you and get you off-topic.
Put unnecessary devices away!
With school being virtual, you need devices with you, but phones are not always necessary. Something as little as putting your phone on Do Not Disturb and turning off notifications for social media apps can help tremendously, as your focus will not keep dragging back to your phone, wondering who sent you a text, snapped you, or liked your post.
Music or no music?
Many people find it easier to work with music while some may feel that it drags their attention away from their work, and like most people, it depends on their mood. You might be one of these people and there are different types of music for your mood. Studies show that classical music has the best effect on mood and productivity as it creates a light and calm environment for studying. Binaural beats, something easily found on YouTube, are also extremely beneficial as they are sound waves that are usually submerged within relaxing instrumental music to help you relax and focus. Above all, if you choose to listen to music, make sure your music doesn’t overpower your thinking and remains in the background. It is also essential to have a pre-made playlist so that you don’t have to stop working to switch or find different songs.
Setting goals for specific times and days
Setting hourly goals helps keep you on track for due dates. You may find it helpful to make an hourly schedule that leaves time for breaks and meals. Keeping a tight schedule forces and encourages you to keep up with the work you assigned for the day and may help you stay more focused and encouraged knowing you can finish your work by a certain time and have free time after. It is also important to plan out the week and set goals to finish certain assignments by certain days.
Starting things early and pacing yourself
You may have the tendency to start studying or working on a project or essay a few days before the due date. Instead of doing this, when planning out your week and schedule for the day or week, include a block of time to get a head start on them! This prevents excess stress as the due date approaches.
Easier or harder assignments first?
Finishing assignments you may dread or find more difficult first has a better effect in the long run. Avoiding big assignments and only doing smaller ones has a false effect on your brain that you are getting a lot done, but in reality, the assignments you are avoiding are piling up.
Fully finishing assignments before moving to the next one
It is important that once you start a subject’s homework or begin studying, you continue it to the end. It is not beneficial to insert different classes’ work in between two different assignments for the same class. This is because you may mix up and confuse similar information from the classes, and you may also lose your train of thought from switching from one subject to the other.
Studies recommend a 5-10 minute break for every hour of studying, homework, school, etc. Taking breaks is vital for retaining information and helps cope with stress, which helps improve your performance. During these breaks, instead of going on your phone, take a walk, stretch, meditate, or look out your window (doing this helps lessen the stress on your eyes). Taking these 5-10 minutes to not think about doing work will actually help your brain take a break and consolidate memories.
Starting to take control of your schedule and designating specific times for different subjects and breaks can go a long way to help you with managing your time and staying productive. Consistently taking these steps and making a change in your work ethic can have a dramatic effect on your mental health, grades, and social life.
Booth, Stephanie. “Brain Health With Binaural Beats.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 May
Hoyt, Elizabeth. “The Best Study Music: What to Listen to While Studying.” Fastweb,
Fastweb, a Monster Company, 31 Jan. 2021, www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/the-
Ryan Korstange Assistant Professor of University Studies. “6 Ways to Build Motivation to
Do Your Schoolwork Now That You're Forced to Learn Online at Home.” The Conversation, 14