Recently, a  Homework  Rx® subscriber asked for tips to help her daughter stay on-task with her  homework . Just last night, a student in my  Homework  Action Group complained of the same problem. “I have a hard time staying focused on  homework . It takes me forever to  do  it!”

I also remember, as a young student, sitting at my desk, wriggling and squirming until I decided

that I needed a drink, or snack, or pencil… After getting lost in the kitchen and sucked into a TV

show, it was at least an hour before I returned to my  homework . I usually had several of these distractions before it became so late that I finally had no choice but to get my  homework   done . By that time, I was very irritable, annoyed, and impatient (don’t laugh, Mom!), which made  homework  even worse.

Why  did  I  do  this?

I  did  not like  homework  (obviously), I  did  not know how to  do  it efficiently, and I  did  not have the discipline to  do  it quickly. I have learned a lot since then.

While there is not much I can  do  to help anyone ‘like’  homework , I could teach strategies for completing it faster, but that would take 150 pages. So, this article will help you improve your self-discipline.

“Self-Discipline  Does  NOT Sound Fun!”

Yes, I know…self-discipline sounds dreadful, but it is time to change your perspective. Just past the point of resistance is an amazing feeling of accomplishment and a big pay-off. Self-discipline is what motivates athletes to win championships and wealthy people to earn their riches.

One of the world’s most successful marketing campaigns was created on the concept of self-discipline when NIKE inspired athletes to “Just  Do  It!” Apply that attitude to  homework , and great things will happen.

** Action Plan **

“Just  do  it!” is a little easier said than  done , especially when it comes to  homework . However, the tips below will help you get started:

– The hours from 3-6 p.m. are typically the most wasted of students’ days. Make them your most productive by  doing   homework  within one hour after school (when possible). You will be more alert at this time of day, so  homework  will actually be easier than if you  did  it later in the evening.

– Challenge yourself to find small sections of time for  homework  before you get home… on the bus, before basketball practice, or even during school. (There is a lot of down-time in classes, such as when teachers take attendance.) The less  homework  you have by the time you get home, the more motivated you will be finish the rest quickly.

– Reward yourself. Challenge yourself to  do  all of your  homework  before a specific time so you can watch your favorite TV show, play video games, talk on the phone, IM your friends, etc.

– Fill a basket with supplies you need for  homework : pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, stapler, paper, scissors, markers, glue, ruler, etc. Keep the basket handy when you  do   homework  so everything you need will be right at your fingertips. One trip across the house for a stapler can cost you hours when you get sidetracked by the TV, refrigerator, or computer. Each sibling should have their own basket and if you live in two homes, you should have one basket in each house.

– Eliminate distractions. It is tempting to watch TV,  do  email, or listen to music while  doing   homework . However, the human brain is only capable of focusing on one thing at a time. When you try to  do  two things at once, your attention constantly shifts back-and-forth. Sometimes that shift happens so rapidly, you don’t even notice it. You will, however, be doubling your  homework  time, increasing errors, and completely destroying any learning that should happen while  doing   homework  (that would otherwise save you study time for your next test).

– Parents:  Do  your ‘ homework ‘ while your children  do  theirs. You have bills to pay and school papers to complete.  Doing  those chores during ‘ homework  time’ will keep it from being so lonely for your children.

– Use an electronic timer. Before you begin an assignment, determine how much time it should take to complete the assignment. Add five minutes and set the timer. Challenge yourself to finish it before the timer goes off. This is great way to develop  homework  motivation (a.k.a. self-discipline) because it becomes a game to play against yourself. For younger students, parents can offer small rewards for each assignment that is  done  before the timer goes off.

** In Conclusion **

 Homework  is usually NOT fun, but you can make it much more bearable if you follow Nike’s advice and “Just  Do  It!” Your evenings will suddenly have much more free time and your grades will improve as you actually learn information while  doing   homework . Before long, you will develop a much better attitude towards  homework  because you will have taken control of it, instead of your  homework  taking control of you.