This Is How I Improved My Homework Habits

I started learning a foreign language from scratch with a tutor for the first time. The most significant challenges in language learning are:

  1. Allocating consistent study time,
  2. Finding a tutor (instead of using a free app),
  3. Completing homework assignments.

I initiated an experiment to develop a habit of doing homework since it leads to more effective language learning. Consequently, I needed to be more mindful during the process; otherwise, it would have followed the usual pattern:

  1. Anger, denial, bargaining, depression
  2. Giving up on studying

Homework Frustration

To tackle this, I started observing my brain’s strategies to avoid homework, depending on how I modified my approach:

Attempt #1. Brain: Let’s skip homework. You’re paying; you decide how to learn. Tutor: No way, do your homework and send it. If you don’t, it’ll get harder. I don’t want to teach you without homework. It’s uncomfortable for me. Brain: Fine, I’ll do it; I don’t want to search for a tutor again; this one was hard to find.

Attempt #2. Brain: It’s tough; let’s simplify. Transfer the homework to an app like Memrise to practice vocabulary and such. Why bother with paper and the current method if it’s so difficult? We should simplify, make it a game. Result: Started but found it even more challenging. Quit homework.

Attempt #3. Brain: I don’t get what to do. Reading the book, it’s all Greek to me. Just abstractions and linguistic gymnastics. I can’t understand the task. I stare, and everything gets blurry – thoughts escape me. Quit.

Attempt #4. Brain: Seemingly focused. Started reading. Suddenly, urgent desires to engage in other useful, pressing activities arose. Distracted 10 times, focused once. Quit.

Attempt #5. Brain: Let’s tell the tutor I’m canceling the lesson because I didn’t do the homework, but it’ll be paid for. I’ll gain time for homework. Plus, there’s motivation – monetary punishment. Did it. Result. Brain: Paying to skip lessons and avoid homework is an interesting concept. Me: You think it’s a good solution? Brain: Why not? Me: Money’s slipping away, and you still have to do it. Brain: Yeah… Looking for another option.

Attempt #6. Brain (smarter after a 15-minute jog): Maybe the problem is that I have a mess and loads of unfinished tasks? Look: a graveyard of notes and ideas in various files. Let’s organize. Result: Organized, improved mood, increased confidence. Did part of the homework! But still, more to do. Realized I couldn’t keep this up. The level where the solution lays is higher. There are subconscious barriers… Conflicts.

Attempt #7. I formed a habit of resolving subconscious conflicts, eliminating roadblocks, and breaking down walls using EMDR/PDTR techniques. Wrote to my trainer: help. Let’s try, they said. After much difficulty, we identified the root cause: unresolved conflicts with my mother’s instructions in childhood, which I resisted. Removed them. Metaphors of change: in a tunnel, balls with weights crowded together, blocking the way. Weights dropped, balls flew away, revealing light and space. Result: Completed homework within a few hours (with breaks when my brain felt overwhelmed).

We’ll continue observing.

PS. Why does this matter?

  1. It’s not about learning a foreign language.
  2. It’s not about struggling with homework.

It’s about having goals to change situations and overcoming subconscious barriers and conflicts that stand in the way. It’s fantastic that there’s an opportunity to remove them

How to Improve Homework Habits?

The strategies I’ve suggested are supported by research and have demonstrated their effectiveness for numerous students. Here is a summary of the reasoning behind each tactic:

Do Not Do Homework Right Before Bed

It’s generally not advisable to complete homework right before bedtime, as this may negatively impact sleep quality and overall well-being. Here are some reasons why doing homework before bed might not be ideal:

Alertness increase

Mentally stimulating tasks like homework can heighten alertness, making it harder to fall asleep. With an active brain, relaxation and sleep onset may be delayed.

Retention and performance decline

During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and processes information. Doing homework right before bed doesn’t allow enough time for effective information processing, which could impair retention and academic performance.

Stress and anxiety potential

Homework can sometimes induce stress and anxiety, particularly when assignments are challenging or deadlines are tight. Increased stress levels before sleep can hinder falling asleep and lead to poor sleep quality.

Sleep hygiene disruption

Good sleep hygiene involves a consistent bedtime routine and associating the bed with relaxation and sleep. Completing homework in bed or immediately before bed disrupts this association, making it harder to fall asleep.

Instead of tackling homework before bed, consider finishing assignments earlier in the evening and creating a relaxing pre-sleep routine. This may include activities like leisure reading, listening to calming music, or practicing meditation or deep breathing exercises. Engaging in such activities helps signal the brain to wind down and prepare for sleep, leading to better sleep quality and overall well-being.

Get Rid of Distractions While Doing Homework

Reducing distractions is crucial for staying focused and productive while working on homework. Minimizing distractions is vital for maintaining focus and productivity. A study by Mark et al. (2015) found that, on average, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after an interruption. By removing distractions, time is saved, and focus is better maintained.

Here are some tips to help eliminate distractions:

Choose a quiet study space

Select a comfortable, well-lit, and quiet area specifically for studying and homework. Ensure this space is free from noise and visual distractions.

Silence notifications

Turn off your phone or enable “Do Not Disturb” mode to avoid interruptions from calls, messages, and notifications. Consider placing your phone in a different room or out of reach to resist checking it.

Close unrelated tabs and apps

Close unnecessary browser tabs and apps on your computer or tablet to prevent getting sidetracked. This helps maintain focus on the task at hand.

Utilize focus-enhancing tools

Consider using apps or browser extensions, such as StayFocusd, Freedom, or Forest, that block distracting websites or assist with time management.

Set clear goals

Establish specific objectives for each study session, like completing a particular assignment or studying for a set duration. Clear goals help you stay on track and resist distractions.

Break tasks into smaller pieces

Dividing tasks into manageable chunks can improve focus and reduce the temptation to get distracted. Use a timer (e.g., Pomodoro Technique) to work for a set period, followed by a brief break.

Create a routine

Develop a consistent homework schedule to build discipline and form a habit of concentrating at specific times each day.

Use noise-cancelling headphones or background music

If silence is challenging, consider using noise-cancelling headphones or listening to instrumental music or white noise to block out distractions.

Communicate your study time

Inform family members or roommates of your study plans, so they can minimize interruptions and respect your need for focus.

Develop mindfulness and self-discipline

Practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to stay present and focused. Cultivate self-discipline by identifying distractions and consciously refocusing on your homework.

By adopting these strategies, you can effectively minimize distractions and maintain focus while working on your homework.