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How to Concentrate on Your Homework

Three Parts:Preparing for HomeworkDoing Your WorkStaying Motivated

Homework got you down? If you're having trouble concentrating, you can learn to strategize properly to finish up your assignments the right way. Learn how to prepare for a homework session, stay focused on your work, and do your homework efficiently.

Part 1
Preparing for Homework

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    Find a quiet place to work. If you need to focus, it can be pretty hard to do that in the living room while your brother plays Xbox at full volume. Try to find a quiet place where you'll be able to study in peace and focus on what you need to do. If needed make some changes in the room.
    • Your room is often the best bet, but anywhere can work. Try to set aside a specific spot to do your homework every night, like the kitchen table or a desk in the living room.
    • If you can't find a quiet place in your house, or you don't have your own room, try staying after school to finish your homework. Or head to the public library to study.
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    Get everything you'll need to complete your homework. Before you get started, make sure you gather all the right materials and utensils, gathering them neatly on your desk. If you have everything you'll need, you'll be able to concentrate on what you're doing, not where your protractor is, and where you need to find your notes. Tidiness is essential, so clean the clutter before you study.
    • Bring a glass of water, or a healthy snack, so you won't find a reason to leave your work when you get a little craving. Keep your butt in the chair.
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    Eliminate all distractions. Turn off the computer, Facebook, Twitter, or anything that will distract you. If you're trying to focus, get rid of everything except the assignment in front of you and anything directly related to that assignment. If you need your computer for finding information, then try concentrating on the information, not on anything else.
    • If you struggle with wanting to check your phone or your computer, put them in another room, or give them to your mom or roommate to watch over them. Only get them back when you're on break time.
    • Some recent studies suggest that listening to soft, instrumental music can actually improve concentration when you're doing homework. It doesn't work for everyone, but experiment with music and see if it works for you.[1]
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    Write a to-do checklist for your homework. Before you start, write out everything that you need to do to finish your homework in a detailed list. Even if you have a school planner or something similar, it's good to have a clear list in front of you at home before you start, so you can check things off as you work.
    • Write down the subject name and a brief overview of what you have to do for the assignment. Write down the due date and a rough guess about how long it might take to finish each assignment. Take in consideration other assignments, if you have any.
    • Order your to-dos from hardest to easiest, so you can tackle the toughest stuff first. Or you can order them in order of how long you think they'll take, so you can focus on the most time-consuming tasks first. Both ways are effective.
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    Make a schedule. Without a plan, it can sometimes be pretty hard to stay on task. Try setting a certain block of time for each thing you need to get done. For example, science homework will be done from 4:00-5:00, then math work will be completed from 5:00-6:00. This will help you stay on track so you’re not straying from your work. The deadline for the work will help you complete tasks with some intensity, so that you’re not leaving it all to the last second.
    • It’s pretty important to know when your assignment is due so you can budget your time properly. It can be pretty rough if you’re working on 4 different assignments the night before they are all due.
    • Try to keep your work area organized as well. Having math work in the middle of all your English notes isn’t the best way to stay focused on your work.

Part 2
Doing Your Work

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    Take a minute to switch on your brain. It can be hard to go from regular life to studying with the flip of a switch. Give your brain a chance to change from TV-watching mode to reading and studying mode. Try flipping through your textbook before you start, so you can get into the mind set.
    • Re-copying your notes quickly can also be extremely effective. Then notes you copied down Friday afternoon probably aren't imprinted on your mind yet. It's an easy way to study and get your thinking cap fitted properly.
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    Do the hardest tasks first. Lots of people find the most effective way to approach homework is to start with the toughest tasks and get them out of the way. If you absolutely hate math, but get a kick out of reading for English, do your math homework first and treat yourself afterward with the easier English reading. As you get more worn down over the homework hours, the work will get easier.
    • Alternatively, you might find it more effective to do the most time-consuming tasks first. These might be the same as the hardest, but not necessarily.
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    Try speaking aloud as you do your homework. If you struggle to focus while you're doing something repetitive, speaking your math problems out loud can help to keep your mind centered on what you're doing. This will help you keep from getting distracted.
    • If you feel silly, you don't have to speak them very loudly. Just whisper. When you're trying to puzzle out what to do with the problem, speak out loud as well. Hearing what you're thinking can help with creativity.[2]
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    Finish one task before you move on to something else. Don't switch between assignments. Instead, finish one before you move on to the next. According recent studies, multitasking temporarily drops your IQ and your cognitive abilities on each task, making the work even tougher.[3]
    • Check things off as you go. As soon as you have completed a task, put a check next to it-you can even have several check boxes for different parts of the task. Being able to put a tick next to something and think: I've done this, is a great feeling, and can encourage you to keep going.
    • If you really can't figure something out, put it aside for a while. Staring at something useless only gets you frustrated and it takes lots of time. Starting another task makes you feel a little better (a fresh start-feeling) and you'll probably feel a lot better when you begin some other time.
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    Know when to call it quits. Looking at a late night of homework? Try to never work longer than an hour or maybe two past your normal sleep time. Do as much as possible, and finish up in the morning if you've got some leftover. If you can't finish, plan better next time.
    • Your work will start to suffer as you get more tired, and you'll hurt your focus for the next day as well. Once you start mixing your work time and sleep time, you'll have trouble planning, budgeting time, and estimating your workload.

Part 3
Staying Motivated

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    Take regular short breaks. Instead of one super long break, take a few short breaks in between different assignments. Maybe have a five minute break for a snack after 30-60 minutes of work.
    • Take five minutes to stretch, pop outside for a walk, or do something active, instead of just sitting and checking Facebook. It's important to make sure that you aren't sitting at a desk for hours and hours at a time.
    • When you don't take breaks, the work can seem kind of endless. Productivity and concentration suffer, because you end up wasting some time doing other things like going on social media, doodling, or just doing poor work.
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    Be careful with caffeine. Caffeine gives some students a much-needed jolt of concentration juice. For others, it's a fast-track to jittering around like a squirrel on speed. Don't drink more than the normal amount of coffee or caffeinated drink you usually consume. It will make concentrating harder.
    • Better than caffeine is just staying hydrated. Drink water or juice instead to make sure your brain is functioning on all levels.
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    Try working on homework with other people. It can be kind of hard to focus if you’re alone in a tiny room with just your books and papers. Sometimes it can be helpful to work out in the open where there are other people, or to study in a big group. They can be helpful in keeping you accountable. If you say that you’re working on an essay and they see you browsing Tumblr, they can point it out and keep you in check.
    • As long as you're not sharing answers, working on homework together isn't cheating. Really, it's just smart time management and study skills.
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    Give yourself a treat when you're done. It's important to give yourself a reward for the hard work you're doing, each time you finish a task. Working toward a fun activity, treat, or some leisure time helps to motivate you to finish your work quickly, which means you'll have to concentrate.
    • Try this: Cut some colored paper into strips or squares and write all of your assignments you have for that day. Put these in one pile. Create another pile with an equal number of rewards. Put checking your phone or Facebook page on one, playing a game for 10 minutes, watching the new episode on TV, or anything that you want to do or would do in your free time.
    • When you finish one task, pick a treat from the pile of rewards. This is a great way to get work done and enjoy the things you like to do. Don't get too carried away with the rewards. Only one episode TV, not the rest of the season.


  • Amazingly, you will have more free time if you do it now instead of later.
  • Whatever you do, don't put it off. It'll make you want to do it less.
  • If you're in a mood where you don't want to do your homework, think about all the fun you will have when you are done.
  • Don't sit next to an annoying sibling.
  • Concentrate on your work, not your friends. If you get called, tell them you will call them back.
  • Make sure to be in a clean room so that you won't make the excuse of "tidying up" instead of your work.
  • Don't work where there is any TV, cooking, or nasty smells.
  • Before sitting down to do your work, consider doing some exercise, such as running or jumping. Do this for a few minutes to get your blood flowing.
  • Some studies have shown that a view of nature can increase your productivity and concentration. Try to get a view of your backyard through a window, but make sure there is nothing distracting outside. A few pictures on the wall or a flower in a vase will also help a little.
  • Change into something comfortable. This helps because you won't being scratching while doing work
  • Don't waste time looking for more and more ways to concentrate on homework, just get it done.
  • Make sure that you are provided with all the stationary that you need.
  • Make a homework schedule. For example, you get 15 minutes of television time if you finish all your math and science.
  • Reward yourself for a work done.
  • Some people claim that music helps them work faster whereas others say that it distracts them even more. It depends mostly on the learning type of person.
  • Don't procrastinate by doing something that doesn't help you. Get to the point and finish your studies as soon as possible!
  • Turn off notifications on your phone and/or mute a group text. This will stop you from checking your phone constantly. You can mute it if you want.
  • Before you start your homework, remove any distractions (ex. phone, computer) to help you focus only on your work.
  • Close your door to avoid outside noise.
  • Whenever you need to take a break, take one. Don't become stressed about noise or interruptions. Take deep breaths and block out other thoughts until your homework is done.
  • Listen to some instrumental music to help you concentrate.


  • Don't procrastinate; all it will do is stress you out, making you want to do your homework even less! The consequences will be bad, and you will get mad at yourself by not doing your homework, when you had the time. Plus you're just creating more work for yourself because now you have current homework that's due as well as the homework that is now late.
  • Force yourself to concentrate and focus. If you don't concentrate and do your homework, chances are you'll get a bad score on the chapter test!

Article Info

Categories: Homework Skills