Conquering the Homework Headache

Conquering the Homework Headache

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Teachers, share this article with students who struggle with out-of-school assignments.

Do you think that …

HOMEWORK stands for:
Half
Of
My
Energy
Wasted
On
Random
Knowledge?

There’s a proven system for saving much of that energy. If you’d like to eliminate recurring homework frustrations—and move associated knowledge out of the “random” category—make a habit of following this checklist daily:

1. Look at your planner. If you don’t have a daily-and-weekly calendar with space for listing tasks and goals—add one to your school supplies now. Whenever you get a new assignment schedule or study calendar, break it into a list of tasks, assign a day to each task, and write each task on the calendar page for its day. Then, every day, make “check what needs doing this afternoon/evening” part of your end-of-school routine.

2. Bring home everything you will need. Your planner shows today’s homework tasks; before you leave school, double-check that you have every book, note, and supply needed to complete every task on the list.

3. Separate your papers. Preferably before leaving school, but at least first thing on arriving home, sort your collection of homework tasks into materials needed for each specific item. Don’t shove your math notes into your history book and dump your science project in with your soccer equipment.

4. Prioritize. This may take practice and some consideration of your natural working style. Most people start with the easiest things on the list—and then find themselves too tired to do a good job on more important things. Consider: if you knew something might keep you from finishing everything, what would you most want to make sure did get finished? Nine times out of ten, that should be the first thing you do. Consider not only official deadlines, but how important something is to your course grade and (it’s never too early to think about this) to what you most want to do with your life.

5. Decide when to complete your homework. The #1 reason things don’t get done is that people want to get in all the “easy” and “fun” things first, and they convince themselves they can rush through the “hard work” in the last half hour. Decide what time of the afternoon or evening you work best (usually not right after school or right before bed), figure out how long it really takes to do your homework, make specific “homework time slots” a firm part of your weekly schedule, and you’ll never be caught doing a sloppy rush job—or voicing the ridiculous gripe, “School’s closed for bad weather and I wasted last night doing my homework!”

6. Place assignments in your binder or notebook as you complete them. And keep related assignments together. Don’t just stuff everything into a folder or backpack, unless you enjoy frantically shuffling through papers to find the one you need to turn in.

7. Let your parents know you’ve finished, even if they don’t make that a rule. You’ll have one more reason to get things done: knowing that someone else is used to seeing it happen.