Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

You really need to finish that English paper about some 19th century novel that you don’t understand. On top of that, you still have a packet of problems to complete for that AP math course you decided to cram into your schedule. Wait, there’s more. That lab report for biology is due later this week and there’s a DBQ about colonialism in America that you have yet to start.

But instead of working on this ridiculous amount of work that your teachers have assigned you, you’re [insert super distracting activity here, e.g. watching baby videos on YouTube or stalking people you don’t like on Facebook]. YOLO, right? Yeah, no. You know you need to focus, but how? Fear not, young Padawan (I’ve been waiting for a moment like this to use that), I have some tips for you so that you can concentrate on your work!

1. Stay organized. It’s pretty important to know when your assignment is due. It will help you budget your time. 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.

2. 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 and 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.

3. Get rid of distractions. Turn off that phone! Close that teen novel about vampires! Block Facebook (or whatever website you’re spending all your time on) for an hour! Stop trying to watch the latest episode of that TV show! No really, do these things. I promise, you will get significantly more work done if you’re not checking you’re phone every 5 minutes to see how many likes you got on your latest profile picture.

4. Work in the presence of 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. 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.

5. One thing at a time. Don’t try conjugating Spanish verbs while listening to the audio book version of your social studies textbook. For rizzles, don’t. In fact, humans can’t actually multitask. According to neuroscientist Earl Miller, when you think you are multitasking, you’re merely switching between two or more tasks very quickly. So you’re not even multitasking! Studies have shown that multitasking can temporarily drop your IQ. The lesson here? Don’t multitask. It makes getting work done even tougher. For more information about multitasking, click here.

6. Take breaks. Working for extended periods of time can be exhausting, so treat yourself to a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes you work. During your break, try to move around or get something to eat (fish, blueberries, and chocolate are some great foods that can help you concentrate!). Hopefully this will rejuvenate you and you’ll be ready to work some more!

Find the technique that works best for you and stick with it. Good luck!

Here’s a baby video for your time:

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the author

Jenny Zhang is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, who is thinking about majoring in economics (but that is definitely not set in stone). She has many talents such as falling asleep anywhere at any time (this can be verified by her roommate) and procrastinating. Jenny likes to spend a lot of her time on YouTube watching baby videos and obsessing over anything Jeremy Lin-related while eating various forms of food that are high in sugar and/or fat. She is currently trying to learn how to play Ultimate Frisbee to avoid the Freshman 15 and attempting to perfect her street-crossing techniques. Her spirit animal is a panda. You can follow her on Twitter @JenKnee_Z

6 Readers Commented

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  1. Andy H on September 8, 2013

    this article is distracting me from my spanish hw

  2. Brayden Turner on October 9, 2014

    I need some extra help though, I am home schooled and have all the time in the world to do what ever I want. Now I am weeks behind in work and I have no way of focusing on the work that is needed to be done. Any advice?

    Please just reply to my email I provide.

    • sandhafabulous on March 18, 2017

      I’m homeschooled too and while I’m no expert at focusing, an app that does help me is called “Forest”. It’s pretty useful if you are always distracted on your phone or something.

  3. Red on December 4, 2014

    I am failing a class and REALLY need to catch up. I have two months before the end of the semester… Any tips?

  4. Shadaira on October 13, 2015

    That was really helpful thanks.

  5. Pingback: Stay Focused! | Challenge In Life 15 Oct, 2015

    […] schedule. So some of us were up early to go to class and the others to go to work. Now when I was doing homework my roommate(s) were off class and work. They would play their video games and sometimes get pretty […]

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