“Sam, do your homework…”

Never in history has this little colloquialism meant so many things. It causes Sam to wonder, “when my parents tell me to do my homework, do they mean watch my classes, do my assignments or feed Spot his kibble?”

In this piece, we’re offering advice on the traditional meaning of homework: assignments given by a teacher to do at home. Specifically, advice on how to focus, how to be efficient and how to stay sane.

(NOTE: Parents, pay attention. This advice will help you work from home more effectively, too.)

How to focus during homework time

Famous writers have sworn by the following advice for years when it comes to getting “in the zone” and staying focused: 

“If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it.” 

Baroque “is a style of architecture, music, dance, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th century until the 1740s.”  To increase focus during homework time, play this three-hour set of Baroque music from artists like Vivaldi, Bach and Corelli. You’ll experience a surge of focus and efficiency. 

But don’t just take our word for it….

This study in 2014 also found that “Baroque music has a positive influence on improving learning efficiency.” Give it a try.

Now, if you’re wondering how else to be efficient with the vast array of classes and curriculums to tackle, consider this advice:

Set time limits to be efficient

Parkinson’s law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Therefore, to be as efficient as possible, set a time limit when you begin work on a specific assignment. 

For example, suppose you have a 30-question algebra or calculus or trigonometry assignment to complete. You might be thinking “ugh…. This is going to take FOREVER.” 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Set a time for one hour and set the expectation that you must finish the assignment during that hour. When you give yourself a limit, you will get the work done!

For further proof, ask your parents how hard it is to complete a work project when they don’t have a deadline. Setting deadlines in the professional world is a must, so it’s best to give yourself a head start and set your own deadlines now. 

And for even further evidence of the effectiveness of this tactic, consider your tests. You need to complete tests by the end of the class period. And because of the time constraint, the vast majority of students finish. You will be more efficient when you set time limits for your assignments. As for our final piece of advice: 

Set boundaries on homework

Sometimes it feels like you're a pebble of sand on the beach and your homework is an enormous tidal wave tossing you about at breakneck speeds. This is why you need to have boundaries (another element of your future professional life that is key to success). 

Decide on times and places that homework is not allowed so you can enjoy the beauty of life and give your brain time to process all you’re learning. For example, you might sit down with your parents and together agree that homework should stay out of your bedroom and be done by 10:30 PM. 

Remove distractions from your environment, too. Childhood learning literature suggests that having too many posters or other elements in the environment may cause difficulty in focusing on learning.

Circumstances vary, but setting boundaries is a great exercise in using your freedom to choose and developing the skills of discipline and consistency. 


And then...relax!

Your homework is done. Brahms, Beethoven and Bach have become the songs “stuck in your head” and you’ve managed to stay sane despite completing class and your assignments without leaving the house. 

As you implement this advice each day, you’ll find your focus and efficiency increase with each assignment you complete.