Stress, guilt, dread: these are some of the emotions that the word “homework” evokes in many students, including me. However, something that offers mainly positive emotions to me is my love for houseplants. I love figuring out what makes them happy and healthy, and I can now name many of them and offer general tips on how to care for most of them. Not many people enjoy houseplants as much as I do, but most people have an area of interest like a favorite singer, band, movie, T.V. show, or sports team that they know more about than the average person.
This proves that we enjoy learning about what we care about, although we all have different interests. I enjoy Chemistry about as much as I enjoy Football (not much), and I’ll definitely never enjoy Chemistry like I enjoy buying a new succulent, but here are a few mindsets and habits that have made homework bearable and often even enjoyable for me:
Work toward a positive mindset about school.
Take a deep breath and realize that school does not have to cause so many negative emotions. Look for the beautiful, the interesting, the important, and the exciting in whatever you study, and remember that you are capable of understanding and completing your homework and that you only have to finish it one assignment at a time. While studying math, consider the magic of math and science in creating the mysteries of Stonehenge or the Pyramids. While reading history, try to imagine yourself in the position of historical figures. What did they think? What did they feel? What were they like? Do both of you have anything in common?
Any pursuit inevitably loses romance when one gets caught up in the nitty-gritty of understanding and deciphering, but if you can embrace the difficulty and remind yourself of the beauty, the possibility, and the excitement that education offers, you can appreciate and even enjoy science, math, English, etc, more than you ever expected.
Do your assignments ahead of time.
During my freshman year of college, after hanging out with friends all day, I often sat in my dorm until two or three in the morning working on homework that had been due at 11:59 pm. Stress, guilt, and exhaustion were well-known to me. However, as I’ve practiced diligence by consistently using my morning and my free time throughout the day to do homework, I’ve slowly become better at starting assignments the week before rather than the day of the due date and finishing them a few hours before the midnight deadline instead of a few hours after.
What you do in the first couple of weeks of the semester will become your habits throughout the rest of the semester. If I spend the first couple weeks only hanging out with friends and watching YouTube, I’ve found that I get behind in school, I begin to feel stressed, my desire to avoid homework increases, and I spend the rest of the semester procrastinating and barely turning my homework in on time. However, using the first couple weeks when assignments are light to get ahead on homework and find a routine gives me the momentum, positive emotions, and good habits to (mostly) stay on top of homework the rest of the semester.
Don’t bully yourself.
When I inevitably procrastinate on homework, I get angry at myself and resort to Instagram or YouTube to distract myself from the negative emotions for a few hours which only succeeds in causing my anger with myself to grow, starting an endless cycle of procrastination. Guilt and frustration increase the difficulty of homework, and although avoiding all negative emotions is not possible (or even healthy), you can bypass some of them by forgiving yourself when you procrastinate or make mistakes. Remember that you can’t be perfect and that some things, like making memories with friends, are worth pulling that all-nighter to finish your project, just not every night.
Don’t waste your breaks from school on screens.
Screens tend to suck you in and not let you go. Even past the point of enjoying it, I find myself continuing to swipe through social media for hours to procrastinate homework. If possible, try placing your phone on the other side of the room when you go to bed to avoid looking at it when you wake up, which would only set you up for unproductivity. Waiting until after homework to enjoy screens will allow you to think clearer and enjoy school more. Instead, take breaks from school by hanging out with friends, exercising, going for a walk, drawing, cooking, drinking coffee, or whatever else relieves stress for you.
- If the textbook or the teacher isn’t helping you learn, find resources you enjoy learning from like apps, YouTube, a tutor, or other books.
- Let yourself be as creative with assignments as your teacher will allow.
- If there is a school topic that interests you, try to focus your assignments around that topic if you have any freedom to do so.
Realize that homework will never always be enjoyable.
As much as you work to have a better relationship with school, there are going to be rough days when the last thing you want to do is figure out a math problem or write a paper. You're not going to be quite as productive during those times, and that’s human, but if you keep yourself from giving up, you will develop diligence and perseverance in school, as if you're building muscle, setting you up for greater ease and success in future classes. So, don’t let the hard times discourage you, and choose to let the enjoyable times encourage you.