“I can’t concentrate!” It’s a familiar cry heard in households around the world whenever kids are doing their homework. Some days it is very difficult to concentrate. You may just not be in the mood to study. Or maybe it is a certain topic that you have difficulty concentrating on. Whatever the reason, there are some steps you can take to help you concentrate.
As you near the end of another semester, may become increasingly difficult to stay focused on class assignments. After all, the weather is nicer outdoors, and daydreaming about that upcoming long vacation is all too easy. So, here are some strategies to help you down the home stretch:
Eight tips to help you get motivated to do your homework
Some of these tips could work for you. Try them out. Its time to get motivated.
Time is precious when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities. Make the most of what you’ve got by using your time effectively, developing your concentration skills and dealing with distractions.
Use Your Time Effectively
When are you at your brightest? Are you a morning person or a night-hawk? Are you sleepy and distracted after lunch?
Try to schedule study time during your peaks. Don’t waste time when you’re less mentally alert – use it to accomplish simple, routine tasks like housework or grocery shopping.
Develop Your Concentration
How long is your concentration span? Find out by recording your start time when you read from a textbook or other course readings. As soon as your mind begins to drift, record the time again. Try this several times until you can gauge your average concentration span.
Most people take nearly imperceptible “refresher” breaks every few minutes.
One way to improve your concentration is by reading actively: try using a highlighter, making notes of significant points in a notebook, recording questions about items you don’t understand, trying to predict what will be on the next page and connecting what you’re reading with other things you’ve read.
Another way to increase your concentration span is to deal with distractions.
Deal with Distractions
Sometimes it seems that distractions are coming at you from all sides, and probably they are. Distractions may be internal – the wanderings of your own mind, or external/environmental. Learning to manage both types is essential.
When random thoughts intrude (“It’s John’s birthday next week,” “We need bread,” etc.), don’t try to suppress them. Instead, quickly jot them down to consider at another time. Sometimes a memory or a thought that appeared to be unrelated to your reading yields interesting insights into the subject upon later reflection.
Be aware of your optimal study conditions and use this awareness to reduce distractions in the environment. Are you more relaxed with absolute silence, or with classical music in the background? Do you have enough light to read without straining? How is the temperature? Do you need a fan or a blanket to feel comfortable? Is your chair comfortable enough to sit upright, but not so comfortable that it lulls you to sleep? Are there other people around? Have you established time and space boundaries with them that they respect?
Your Unique Optimal Study Environment
When I really need to cram, I have found that I am most focused and productive over breakfast at my local diner.
I am using my time effectively because my energy is at its peak in the morning. The quiet but upbeat contemporary music in the background keeps me energized. Periodic exchanges with my server act as “refresher breaks,” and I have no opportunity to get distracted by the two biggest thieves of time in my home: e-mail and housekeeping. Best of all, someone brings me decaf coffee refills!
I have come to look forward to my breakfast study dates with myself. Because they have become an enjoyable habit, I find that I can be focused and productive almost as soon as I sit down.
Of course, studying in a diner is not for everyone. The point is to be open to your unique optimal study environment.
Making the most of your study time means having more time for your many other activities. Good luck!
Do you really want to get better grades? Then take the extra time to work on the presentation of your assignments. Content is still the most important, but try to approach the papers you write as if they were resumes for a job. You want them to look good, and be easy to read. Any assignment you write, be it an essay, a research paper, a report, or any other type of paper, should be proofread thoroughly before you hand it in. Proofreading does not mean simply skimming through what you have written one last time on the school bus. It means revising what you have written to make it better.
For some people, homework and studying are things they need help with, one on one help from a qualified source. Such people are often surprised at how much progress they can make with a tutor. Read on, and see if a tutor could be what you need.
First you need to understand what a tutor does. Generally speaking, a tutor will coach you in the subjects you need help in, giving you extra explanations or working through assignments with you. They are not there to do the work for you, but to guide you. The Learning Center offers students two free hours of tutoring sessions.
There are other people, of course, who may be willing to take the place of a tutor. Your parents or older siblings, if they have the time, knowledge, and patience, are ideal. However, that combination of qualities is sometimes hard to come by.
A good friend can also be a free, or at least cheap, source of tutoring help. Be careful here, though. First, your friend has to be capable of explaining concepts to you which he or she may be just learning as well. Also, if the friend is really close, there is a tendency to spend valuable study time talking about other things.
Private tutors can be hired for the term of the semester, for summer vacation, or for a short term while you learn a new concept or prepare for a big exam. They can provide a fresh approach if you are finding your instructor doesn’t explain things in a manner you can understand. Many people have been impressed with the results a tutor can help them attain. Do you think you need a tutor?
The Internet can be a very useful homework tool, but searching for information can also be time consuming and frustrating. You will use a tool called a search engine to carry out these searches, but knowing how they work can go a long way towards finding what you want.
There are many different search engines you can use, and many of them work in slightly different ways. So, if you search for “dinosaur teeth” for example, you may find different web sites using one search engine than you would doing the same search using another search engine. Some of the most popular search engines include Google, Dogpile, Lycos, and Yahoo!
When you do a search, you can search for one word (ex. dinosaur), a phrase, which must be put in quotations (ex. “dinosaur teeth”), or two or more words which describe what you are looking for but are not necessarily a phrase, which must have a + sign between them (ex. dinosaur+teeth). Since all search engines work differently, it is worthwhile to click on the help button before you so a search to find out what shortcuts you can take using that particular search engine. In some cases, a search for image:tooth will give you all pages that have an image titled tooth on it.
Different search engines also index pages in a different way. Some search for words and phrases within the website itself, others use the keywords the site’s author has put in, while others are categorized into certain subject areas. It is important to note that much of the way a website appears to a search engine, then, is dependant on what the site’s author wrote. Using our previous example, if the search engine in question uses keywords to catalogue websites, is it likely that you would find it under “teeth of a dinosaur”, “dinosaur fossil teeth”, or dinosaur+teeth?
If all this makes you feel like it would be impossible to find the information you need, why not let somebody else do the hard work for you? About has guides working in hundreds of different topic areas who have already sifted through the many websites out there to find those which are the most fun and which contain the most information. You can simply go to their Net Links section and not bother with the search engines and their many different methods of doing things. Whether you are looking for information on celebrity news or country music or figure skating or something totally different, this may be the place to keep you from wasting so much time.
If you are a regular visitor to this site, you probably gather information from a variety of web sites to help with your homework. If you use that information to write reports, you also need to add the web sites to your bibliography. This leads to the question of “How do I do that?” Obviously, web sites are not in the same format as books, but you need to be as thorough as possible in listing the sites.
The general format which should be used to cite web sites in a bibliography is as follows:
Author’s Name (last name, then first name)
Author’s Email Address
“Title of Web Page”
Date, if available
For example, this would be the bibliography citation for the Strange Science site:
This would be the bibliography citation for The Magic School Bus Activity Lab site:
“The Magic School Bus Activity Lab”
Web sites can come and go overnight, so gather the information you need, then write down the details of the site itself for your bibliography. If these details are not all listed on the site there are two steps you should take. First, if there is an email link, send them a message telling them you are using the information contained in their site for researching a school report and ask them to send you the missing details. If there is no email link, or if they don’t respond, you will have to just include the details you do have.
Finally, a word of caution. Be careful when researching on the Internet. There are some wonderful sites out there with loads of information, but there are others which are filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. Make sure you double-check facts which you pull from web sites.
There are a few slightly different ways to cite web sites in a bibliography as you will find if you visit the sites below: