Fresh. Fit. Focused.: Getting that dreaded homework done


Melissa Schmitz, Asst. Opinion Editor

While no one can make you like homework, I can give you some tips on how to go about getting it done.

Choosing the right place

Don’t study in a place that’s not conducive to studying. While it may be tempting to study in your room rather than the library, this may prove to be a bad idea if you have a distracting roommate. Besides, studies show that studying in different environments can help you stay focused so you don’t get too comfortable in one space.

Choosing the right time

It’s obvious that we’re not motivated every second of the day, so it’s not only important to do the time, but you also need to make sure it’s the right time. 3-6 p.m. is the most wasted block of time for college students, yet it’s also the time we’re most alert. So do yourself a favor and “just do it” after class as opposed to later that night during March Madness.

Spending the right amount of time

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion, so set a time limit for the work you plan to get done. This is especially important for subjects like organic chemistry, which seem to have no true end. You probably don’t want to spend all of your time studying anyway, so plan out the time you’ll spend before you get started.

Making time

While you can’t actually add more hours to your day, you can find ways to be more efficient with the time you have. Spend time during your normal study hours on preparing materials that you can study on the go. If you make flashcards for yourself, either keep them on hand at all times or use an app on your phone so you can take advantage of the time spent standing in line every morning at Cafe Nuevo. If you have time between your classes, dedicate that time to getting some work done rather than texting your friend that you’ll be seeing in an hour anyway.

Being prepared

This may sound like a given, but make sure you have all the supplies you need beforehand too. Not a lot can derail studying as much as leaving your lab notebook in your dorm room when you were planning on finishing that lab report. So just take the extra five minutes to think about not just the study materials and supplies, but also things such as snacks and drinks to keep you going. Also, be sure to wear comfy clothes, but not so comfy you’ll fall asleep.

Garnering motivation

Planning to watch basketball tonight? Or maybe you’ve got a hankering for some chocolate. Use those things to help you get work done by using a reward system. Perhaps even extend this to buying yourself a gift for getting bigger tasks done. Whatever works for you! If you’re still distracted, try going for a walk to clear your mind or take a cat nap. You may simply find the extra free time later to be enough though!

Actually doing it

Before you start you should have a plan or some goal to guide you. To actually go through with the plan sans burnout, however, try the pomodoro method. Set a timer for 25 minutes of work, then five minutes of break. Try this with your friends to keep each other on track! Furthermore, you may want to consider going for the more difficult or boring work first. You may find motivation in how the work will progressively get easier throughout your study session.

Quit multitasking

According to neuroscientist Dr. Earl Miller, multitasking is actually switching between two or more tasks really quickly. So you’re not even multitasking! If that’s not enough, studies have shown that multitasking can lead to a lower IQ, so do your brain a favor and turn off the music, shut off the TV and log off Facebook.

Staying ahead of the game

Spring break is coming up. Woohoo! For me that means extra time to study and get ahead. Perhaps that’s not your only goal, or even a goal at all, but consider getting at least one thing done during the break. Have a paper due in a few weeks? Outline your paper or find the right books you’ll need. Behind on rewriting your notes? Bring it with you on that plane trip to Florida. Not only will this make you more prepared when you come back, but it will give you some momentum so you don’t succumb to post-break procrastination.