Young People Ask . . .
What Can I Do About So Much Homework?
“Too much schoolwork” has been cited as one of the most common causes of stress among young people
“If you’re not well organized, you lose a lot of time deciding what you’re going to do next”
‘WE DON’T have enough time!’ So complained one group of high school students. The cause of this problem? The demands of school and homework. “I start school at 8:00 a.m. and finish at 5:30,” says young Véronique. “By the time I get home, it’s 6:30. It’s hard. Parents think that being in school is a wonderful life. They don’t understand that school is tiring and stressful, and then when we get home, there’s the homework.” Seventeen-year-old Sandrine adds: “I spend from two to three hours a night on my homework, plus the weekends.”
Véronique and Sandrine live in France, where students have one of the longest school days in Europe. Students in many other lands likewise feel stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed by all the demands on their time. “Too much schoolwork” has been cited as one of the most common causes of stress among young people.
Since it is harder than ever to find employment in most parts of the world, many young people see getting a good education as crucial to their future in the working world. As Violaine, a high school student, puts it: “The opportunities for getting a decent job have become so hard to come by that kids today realize there’s only one thing to do—STUDY!”
Not Enough Time?
Nevertheless, those who do well in school know that it takes a lot of time and energy. And if you are a Christian youth, you have extra demands on your time: attending Christian meetings, studying the Bible, and sharing your faith with others. (John 17:3; Romans 10:10; Hebrews 10:24, 25) The Bible further says that there is “a time to laugh” and have a good time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4; 11:9) Like most youths, you probably want to have at least some time for recreation and relaxation. But schoolwork may seem to leave you with little time to do the things you need to accomplish—much less do the things you’d like to do.
Often, though, the problem is not simply a lack of time. A recent study revealed that two of the major reasons why high school students had academic problems were their “poor use of time” and “lack of organization.” As a youth named Olivier discovered, poor personal organization can affect more than your grades. He says: “If you’re not well organized, you lose a lot of time deciding what you’re going to do next.” How, then, can you get yourself organized?
A Balanced View of Schoolwork
First of all, you must put your schoolwork in perspective. The Bible tells us to “make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) And when you think about it, what really should be the most important thing in your life? Should it not be your spiritual obligations? After all, Jesus told his followers: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) That means giving priority to Christian meetings, prayer, study, and the work of preaching to others.
Does this mean that schoolwork is unimportant? Not at all. But as a Christian, your goal in pursuing an education should not be to equip yourself for some secular career. Rather, it should be to learn skills that will prove useful to you in your career as a minister of God. At the same time, you are preparing yourself to be able to hold a job and support yourself, and perhaps a family some day. (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 5:8) Knowing this should help you to strive to do your very best in school. At the same time, you need to put forth reasonable efforts to keep yourself strong spiritually.
“Buying out the opportune time” for spiritual obligations, chores, recreation, and schoolwork, can be a real challenge, but it can be done.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
The Value of Establishing a Routine
One way to buy out time is to become more efficient in the way you study. Chapter 18 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work offers a number of helpful suggestions.* For instance, have you tried to develop a schedule or set a routine for your schoolwork?—Compare Philippians 3:16.
“By far the most common difficulty in study,” writes Harry Maddox in his book How to Study, “is simple failure to get down to regular concentrated work.” What about you? Do you put off doing your homework until you are in the mood—or when it seems more convenient? Warns Ecclesiastes 11:4: “He that is watching the wind will not sow seed; and he that is looking at the clouds will not reap.”
Harry Maddox further observes: “It is fatally easy to dribble time away. If you do not impose set hours on yourself you are more than likely to spend the time when you should be studying in watching T.V., reading a magazine, . . . or in doing any of those hundred and one things which weak students are ready to do rather than get down to work. If you have a schedule and mean to stick to it, it has all the force of a law which must not be disobeyed, and in time adherence to it becomes effortless, and you begin to regard it as a natural part of your life.”
If you handle your schoolwork in a well-organized and disciplined manner, you will likely have more time on your hands. Good planning on your part can also help you prevent conflicts between completing your school assignments and meeting your Christian obligations, such as attending congregation meetings.
Organize Your Time!
What about the other things you want and need to get accomplished, such as household chores? Here too, getting organized is the key. Try applying the following suggestions:
Keep a list of things to do. Time-management consultant Stephanie Winston recommends carrying a pocket-size notebook with you at all times. Use it to record “every idea, assignment, call, project, task, or errand—large or small, minor or important—as it arises.” At first glance, your list may seem overwhelming, but using the following suggestions, you can whittle it down to a more manageable size.
Put things in priority order. This can help you focus on the things that really need to be done. At the same time, you can eliminate the things that can wait or that you simply do not have time to do.
Prepare a schedule. Yes, transform your list into a plan of action—a written schedule. A small pocket calendar, or diary, may serve you well in this regard. Far from restricting your freedom, a well-balanced schedule will enable you to have better control of your time.
Be realistic. Through trial and error, work out when it is best to do certain things. You may find it advantageous, for example, to schedule your homework sessions as early as possible in the day, when you are still alert mentally.
Realize, though, that you don’t have to plan every moment of your life. Keep your schedule flexible, leaving room for the unexpected and the spontaneous. Make adjustments as needed, but stick to your schedule as much as possible. Note: It is usually best to overestimate the amount of time you will need to accomplish a particular task. You can always adjust if you finish early.
Set your own deadlines. This helps you avoid the tendency to wait until the last minute to get something done. If you have a school project, try to set a completion date that is well in advance of the date it is due to be turned in.
Discipline yourself to stick to your schedule. It can be tempting to go over to a friend’s house when you need to stay home to study for final exams. But sow sparingly when it comes to your studies, and you may reap poor grades later on. (Compare 2 Corinthians 9:6.) Besides, you will usually enjoy your free time more if you have got your work out of the way. A helpful principle is, Important things first, fun things later.
Scheduling and organizing yourself will take time, patience, and considerable self-discipline, but Christians are told to exercise self-control in all things. (1 Corinthians 9:25) Learning to stick to a schedule is good practice in applying this principle. The results may be the satisfaction of accomplishment, more control over your life, and more time to do the things you want and need to do.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Picture on page 15]
Establish a study schedule and stick to it