Online Community Manager

Concentrating on Homework

I have a really hard time concentrating on my homework. I either get on New Moon, or get distracted and stop doing homework. How do I stay focused?

- Anonymous


It’s amazing how hard focusing can be! I definitely know what it’s like to struggle with it. However, keeping in mind that we’re different people and what works best for one person might not necessarily be helpful for another, here are some strategies that I’ve found make it easier for me to concentrate on things I need to do, whether homework or other work.

Firstly (and, arguably, most importantly), minimize the distractions around you as much as possible. There are so many fun, interesting things at your disposal (including NMG!), and that’s wonderful—but it does come with the other side of the coin too, that being how easily these things can end up being distracting. If the homework you have to do doesn’t need a computer, then close your computer, turn your phone off and/or put it in another room—whatever electronic devices you use and put them somewhere where, hopefully, you won’t be as tempted to use them. Even if the homework does require computer access (for instance, an online assignment, you’re typing something, you need to do research, etc.), still, put any other devices that you don’t need away, and try to limit what options you have within easy access; if you don’t need to use the Internet, for example, then temporarily turn off the WiFi, or close all applications (and then don’t let yourself reopen them ;)) aside from whatever you’re working in.
Similarly, if there are other, non-Internet things that you find distract you (books have always been a big one for me!), try not to have those around you when you’re trying to do work. The closer to hand something is, the easier it can be to give in to temptation—if you’re sitting right next to it, it’s easy to say “I’ll just do this for a minute”, but if you have to walk across the house, that extra effort might be a bit of a welcome deterrent.

I’d also recommend setting aside a specific time in your daily routine that you dedicate to doing your work. Of course, how doable this is this depends on how regular your schedule remains from day to day, but, if you can, making it a regular part of your day might be helpful. The amount of time you need will probably vary, but if you always (or almost always) do your homework, say, right after dinner, then your brain may get used to concentrate at that time—so that after dinner, your mind goes into “let’s buckle down and focus!” mode, not “let’s go on NMG!” mode.

If some of the distractions you struggle with are caused by people (siblings, parents, etc.), then I’d suggest explaining your difficulties to them. As one of a seven-person family (and without my own bedroom!), I know that in my house there are frequently noises, people talking, coming and going through rooms, etc.—and all these frequent interruptions can make it very difficult when I need to concentrate on something. When there’s something specific I need to do, though, I can let my family know, and hopefully they’ll try to be quieter and to stay out of the room I’m working in—and at the very least, assuming they remember, I don’t need to worry so much about being called to do something, asked to play a game, etc.
I’m not sure if this type of thing is a problem for you, but if it is, discussing your need for space to focus is something I highly recommend; they can’t know if they’re interfering (probably inadvertantly) with your focus unless you tell them.

S2S mentor Cat also wrote a great blog post about Being Productive, and some of the tips there may be helpful; I can see the “reward system” idea especially being helpful in this case, as you could reward yourself for however much you accomplish/get done with going on NMG, playing, or whatever some of the things are that you like doing that sometimes serve as distractions.

All that said, if you try different techniques for a while and focusing for extended periods of time still just isn’t working for you, you may need to just try to work with that, rather than changing yourself. Instead of spending half an hour (or however long it would take to do the bulk of your work) trying and struggling to pay attention, take 5-10 minutes here and another 5-10 minutes there—break the work down into little chunks and do one chunk at a time, so that in between you can let your mind stray to other things. Everyone’s mind functions a little differently, and sometimes it’s best to accept the way you function best and work with it. Doing things in bits at a time can be just as productive—or even more productive, in some cases—as doing them in long periods of time, and there’s no shame in taking breaks, if that’s what helps you do your best. :)

I hope some of this helps, and good luck with that homework and concentration!

~ Sarah

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