When I’m doing online schoolwork, it’s really easy to get off task. How can I keep myself from procrastinating? —Anonymous
Hi! Procrastination and distraction are both things I’ve struggled with in the past, so speaking as someone who’s been homeschooled my whole life (not just since COVID!), and has *mostly* conquered these issues, I’ll do my best to help!
First, prioritizing. There is only so much time in the day, so we need to figure out what are the most important things to do in that time. This can be subjective to the person and situation, but there are some broad categories you can think about. For instance, Education as a whole is probably more important than watching 3 hours of youtube. Yes, it is definitely important to set aside some time for enjoyment, but there are healthier ways to do that other than three more hours looking at a screen and not even interacting socially. Getting a basic concept of what constitutes a good use of time is an excellent start. Even once you’ve decided to use your time “well” though, there’s still the question of what to do FIRST. Write your paper on endangered species, read that book you were assigned for English, memorize the state capitals, or take your math quiz? So many different things that need to be done, but you can’t exactly do them all at once.
Well, when I’m trying to decide what to do first, I think about 3 things.
- When is it due? Assignments with earlier deadlines come before ones with later ones, simple enough.
- How long will it take? This is almost 2 questions in itself. If something will be quick, I’d say just do it and get it over with. You can check it off your list, feel good about yourself, and then move on to the rest. On the flipside however, if you have something that will not only take a lot of time but also needs to be stretched across multiple days, (say a science experiment that needs to sit for a day, or a journal that has to have multiple entries) start that first so it’s underway, and then move on to the quicker stuff.
- What are you in the mood for? If you’re just really not in the mood for math, but kind of want to curl up in a corner and read, go for the reading because you’ll be more productive and more likely to get good grades! You’ll just have an easier time understanding and remembering the book, and a harder time doing calculations when you’re really not feeling it. If, of course, you just can’t stand a certain subject...well, you’re still going to have to do it eventually, so just try to pick a time when genius isn’t burning for a different subject.
Even if you know exactly what you should be doing in a given period of time though, you need the incentive to actually sit down and do it. Setting yourself small goals for what you want to accomplish by a certain time is a great idea. You can break your workload down into bite size chunks and check one off your list at a time. This makes the whole process much more manageable and makes you feel like you’re actually doing something! You can also give yourself incentive by giving yourself some sort of a reward once you finish something. That way it’s not that feeling of “Yay I checked something off, now I get to go do those other million things...” Whether that’s a healthy snack, a snuggle with your pet, a virtual chat with a friend or some time on NMG, a few minutes to read, write or draw something purely for fun, or simply a few minutes to stare out the window and do absolutely nothing, giving yourself something—not necessarily as a “reward”, but just as something you can look forward to as you work—is often very beneficial. Of course, depending on how large a goal you’re setting for yourself, make the treat proportional. If you’re allowed to have a videochat sleepover when you finish your week or month’s workload that’s awesome, but if you do it every time you finish an assignment...well, you’re probably not going to turn much in in time, and you’re going to need more nights in the week for all those sleepovers! Likewise, if you promise yourself a snack after you finish your week’s work, you might suffer from a bit of starvation before you’re through, so try to give yourself appropriately sized breaks and rewards ;)
Last, but certainly not least, block out distractions. This can be challenging if you live with other people who are also trying to work or study online (I can relate, given everything going on at once in my home!), but it’s also very important. Ask your parents/siblings for a block of time where you can go into a quiet room and work without anyone talking around you, or being asked to do anything else for a short while. You won’t necessarily get that at all times, but I’m sure they will be understanding and try to set aside a specific time or times for your “school hours”. You’ll also need to be careful about distracting yourself. Try turning off any devices that you don’t need for schoolwork, and even when it has to be done online you can close any windows that you don’t need, and turn off any notifications. That way you won’t end up spending all your work time checking your email, texts or PMs every 10 minutes ;)
I hope some of this helped!! Remember that you’re not the only one going through this, and if your work suffers a little bit, you’re not alone! Your teachers know how hard this is (likely they’re having trouble adjusting to online teaching as well), so as long as you’re doing your best and working hard, I’m sure they will be understanding.
Best of luck on getting everything done and remember that as important as homework is, your health and wellbeing are far more so! Make sure to take care of yourself <3