For many, the word college is synonymous with homework. It’s widely assumed that if you want to succeed in school, you’ll have to wave goodbye to your social life and hit the books 24/7. Who has time for a life when you have textbooks to read, worksheets to fill out, and online quizzes to wade through?
The thing is, you actually don’t have to allow homework to overtake your life. Drowning in projects and papers? Doesn’t have to be a thing! Yes, homework is extremely important, but if you manage your time well and follow some of the tips we’ve laid out below, you’ll notice that you can make time and space for the fun parts of college.
Tips for managing your homework
1. Plan it out
There’s nothing more overwhelming than looking at your syllabus on that first day of class and realizing the hours of work ahead of you. If you’re the free-spirited type, you’ve probably already noticed that it’s tough—not to mention, completely overwhelming—to complete all of your assignments during the final week of class.
If you don’t know the exact date and time you’re going to complete particular projects and papers, it will be easy to feel swamped when deadlines are looming. The best thing you can do is break down your homework assignments into manageable, bite-size pieces. Schedule out your homework in 1 – 4 hour increments for the next month. Make sure each assignment, textbook reading, and study session is physically accounted for in your planner or personal calendar—that way, you can rest easy knowing everything is mapped out. Planning ahead helps you avoid wasting brain space on anxiety and mental planning regarding when you’re actually going to complete a project.
2. Take one thing at a time
Nothing is as overpowering as the feeling you get when you realize just how much work you have to do before the end of the semester or even the night before a paper is due. If your stress response is to shut down when you feel like you have too much you have to accomplish in a short period of time, then this tip is for you.
It’s essential that you take one thing at a time when it comes to homework. While you may have a paper, test, and several chapters of textbook reading due at the end of a week, make sure you focus on only one thing at a time. It can be tempting to flit back and forth between everything, but staying focused on one project at a time will ease your anxiety and save you brain space.
Write down how long you’re going to study and from what hour to what hour you’ll focus, and then when that time is up, take a break or go to bed! There’s no use staying up into the wee hours of the night when you could be getting some of that precious sleep your brain and body so desperately need.
3. Resist distraction and procrastination
Social media, BuzzFeed, blogs, a bag of potato chips, the party going on three doors from your dorm room—the list for potential distractions is endless. It takes a lot of self-control and willpower to resist turning to other things when you have work to do, but in the end, you’ll be thankful you got down to business. If you have trouble staying focused on your homework, enlist a roommate or friend to keep you accountable. Another helpful practice is to take breaks. Read your textbook for 30 minutes and then take a 15 walk. Read for another 30 minutes and then spend some time reading your favorite blog.
If procrastination is your nemesis, return to tip #1. Planning your assignments out is key, and if you physically put them in your calendar, you’ll be more likely to complete them. If you’re the type who adds your tasks to the calendar but then fails to take action at the appointed time, consider asking yourself when, exactly, you’ll be able to finish this assignment in the future. In the end, it’s your choice when and how you choose to get your work done, but if you want to succeed, avoiding procrastination is important.
You’re gonna make it!
There’s no doubt about it: college can be tough. Not only are you managing homework and classes, but there are a whole host of other extracurricular and social activities you have the opportunity to get involved with. That’s part of the fun of attending school!
Keep focused, and remember why you came to college in the first place—to learn, get a degree, and graduate! Even when the going gets tough, rest assured, you’re going to make it through, and you’ll be glad for all the work you did while in school.