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Tips From an Ex-Procrastinator

How to stay on task when homework is the last thing you want to do.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Attention and Focus
Problem Solving
Responsibility
Self Control

Does everything else around you seem far more interesting than doing your assignments? Can't keep your mind from wandering off task? Here are tips for staying focused so you don't end up leaving homework until the last minute.

Block off time beforehand
It's Tuesday. Your science project is due Friday. You have choir practice after school until 4 p.m. Mom serves dinner at 6 p.m. Your favorite television show is on at 8 p.m. And bedtime is 9:30 p.m. How can you possibly fit your science project in? You think, "Better just wait for tomorrow to work on it."

But why put it off when you can get some of it accomplished today? As tempting as it is to delay work that isn't due for a couple of days, getting a little bit done at a time will make your life easier in the long run. Take a good look at your schedule. There's a 2-hour block after choir practice, so choose about 45 minutes — say 5:15 until Mom puts dinner on the table — and start plowing through your work.

There. You've gotten some of it over with and you get to watch your favorite program. When you schedule a chunk of time to do projects or homework, it's like any other commitment you have to uphold.

Seclude yourself

Get away from potential distractions before you crack the books. Now, you shouldn't be working in a dungeon or anything, but it certainly helps the progress of your work if there's no television in the room, your friends aren't around, and your bed can't beckon you to take a nap. Find a suitable workspace with a comfortable chair and tabletop to spread out, either in your house or at the library. Make sure this is a place where you can concentrate without interruption.

Turn off instant messenger, the cell phone, whatever
If your assignment requires you to work on a computer, do yourself a favor and don't bother signing on to instant messenger. Once just one buddy IMs you, it's going to be difficult to do anything productive.

Similarly, if you have a cell phone, put it on silent or turn it off completely. Unless you are expecting an important call from Mom or Dad, tuck it in your bag so you can resist the urge to text message or call your friends.

Fix a snack before you start
One of the best excuses for taking a break? Getting some grub. Of course, the best procrastinators will mull over what they want to eat, take forever to browse the fridge or candy machine, then spend extra time actually eating the snack. So here's what you do: make a tasty treat for yourself before you start working. Whether you are at home or going to the library, just fill a Ziploc baggie with cookies, crackers, or carrot sticks. That way you can save the snack for when your stomach starts to grumble and not waste time.

First is the worst…so get it out of the way 
When each of your looming assignments has equal importance or urgency, do the worst one first. Finishing it will make all the other assignments such a breeze that you'll sail on through, knowing that the least appealing isn't waiting for you.

Envision the light at the end of the tunnel
You're chugging along, being productive…and all of a sudden you feel like you're never going to finish, which, of course, makes you want to veg out, watch TV, surf the Internet, or do anything that doesn't involve school.

Don't give up. Use the power of positive thinking to envision the light at the end of the tunnel. Mentally go over what you have left to accomplish, breaking the work into small portions. Say to yourself, "Okay, once I finish these 5 math problems, I'll write observations from my science experiment. After that, I'll only have 5 more math problems to go. Piece of cake!" After chipping away what's left of your homework, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that you're all done.

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