Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Find Time to Do My Homework?
‘I’m a senior in high school, and I’m beyond stressed. . . . I have so many projects and presentations to do, it’s not funny. I have no time to do them.’—An 18-year-old girl.
DO YOU feel overwhelmed by the stack of homework assignments you carry home from school each afternoon? If so, you are not alone. “As schools across the nation work to raise standards—and standardized test scores—they’re piling on the homework,” says a press report from the United States. “High school students report more than three hours a night in some places. One University of Michigan study suggests that young children are seeing up to three times as much homework as children did 20 years ago.”
Heavy loads of homework are not unique to students in the United States. For instance, while some 30 percent of 13-year-olds there reported doing more than two hours of homework per day, in Taiwan and Korea, the figure was 40 percent, and in France, over 50 percent. “Sometimes I get really stressed-out when my homework piles up,” sighs Katie, a U.S. university student. Her feelings are echoed by Marilyn and Belinda, who attend school in Marseilles, France. “We often spend two hours or more nightly on homework,” says Marilyn. “When you have other responsibilities, it can be hard to find the time.”
Where Can I Find the Time?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just add a few hours to the day when you need them so that you could finish your homework and take care of everything else you have to do? Actually, you may be able to accomplish something like that if you learn from the Bible principle found at Ephesians 5:15, 16: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves.” Although the Bible writer did not have homework in mind when penning those words, the principle can be applied to everyday life. When you buy something, you have to give something up in exchange for it. The idea here is that to find time for study, you’ll have to give up something. But what?
“Make lists of what you need to do first,” advises a youth named Jillian. In other words, establish priorities. Christian meetings and spiritual matters should be high on your list. And don’t forget your family responsibilities, chores and, of course, homework.
Next, try keeping a diary of how you really spend your time for a week or so. You may be surprised at what you discover. How much time do you spend watching TV? surfing the Internet? going to the movies? talking on the phone? visiting friends? Now, how does your diary compare with your list of priorities? It may be that you need to look no further than your TV-viewing, phone-calling, or Web-surfing habits to find areas from which you can buy out a lot more time!
First Things First
This doesn’t mean that you have to throw away your TV or become a hermit. You may need to establish the rule, “First things first.” A Bible text that can be applied says: “Make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) For example, since your schooling is important, you can make a rule for yourself that you won’t turn on the TV until you have cared for your chores, studied for Christian meetings, and finished your homework. Granted, missing your favorite TV show can be disappointing. But honestly, how many times have you sat down intending to watch only your favorite show and wound up in front of the TV all evening—accomplishing nothing else?
On the other hand, you need to give sufficient importance to attending Christian meetings. If you know, for instance, that you have an important test or homework assignment coming up, you might try working on it far enough in advance that it does not distract you from your meetings. You might even try discussing your situation with your teachers, letting them know how much you would appreciate advance notice of any homework assignments that could fall on a meeting night. Some teachers may be willing to cooperate.
Another helpful principle is taught in the Bible account of a friend of Jesus’ named Martha. She was a very busy and industrious person, but she did not have her priorities in order. On one occasion, she was wearing herself out trying to prepare what was probably an elaborate meal for Jesus while her sister, Mary, was listening to Jesus instead of helping her. When Martha complained about this, Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and disturbed about many things. A few things, though, are needed, or just one. For her part, Mary chose the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”—Luke 10:41, 42.
The lesson? Keep things simple. How might you apply this principle in your situation? Well, are you “anxious and disturbed about many things”—perhaps trying to juggle homework and a part-time job? If you have a job, does your family really need the money? Or do you just like having the extra cash to buy things that you want but do not really need?
For example, in some lands young people are eager to buy their own cars. High-school counselor Karen Turner explains that “there’s an enormous pressure on young people today to have or earn money because it’s expensive to run cars.” Turner, however, concludes: “It gets in the way when you take on too many things such as extra-curricular activities, plus work, along with a heavy academic load. Then the student experiences overload.” Why overload yourself if you don’t have to? If your schoolwork is suffering, perhaps you can work fewer hours at your job or even quit.
‘Buy Out’ Time at School
In addition to looking for extra hours outside school, give thought to how you can use your time better while at school. “I try to get as much homework done as I can during study periods,” says Josue. “That way I have access to the teacher if there is something I didn’t understand in class that day.”
Another thing to consider might be reducing the number of elective classes you are taking. Also, you may want to discontinue some of the extracurricular activities in which you are involved. By making adjustments in these areas, you can open up extra study periods.
Using Your Time More Efficiently
All right, you have made sacrifices and adjustments and have squeezed out a bit more time for homework. How efficiently will you use that time? If you can get 50 percent more homework done in the same amount of time, isn’t that as good as having 50 percent more time? So here are some suggestions for improving your efficiency.
◼ Have a plan. Before you begin your homework, give some thought to such things as these: Which subject needs to be tackled first? How much time should the assignment take? What resources—books, paper, pens, calculator—will you need to accomplish it?
◼ Find a study area. Ideally, it should be free of distractions. ‘If you have a desk, use it,’ says a youth named Elyse. ‘It helps you to concentrate better when you’re sitting up instead of lying on your bed.’ If you don’t have your own room, maybe your brothers and sisters would be willing to let you have some peace and quiet during your study periods. Or perhaps you can use a park or a public library. If you do have your own room, don’t impede your efforts by playing the TV or distracting music while you are trying to study.
◼ Take breaks. If you find yourself losing your focus after a while, taking a short break may help you to get back on track.
◼ Don’t procrastinate! “I’m a chronic procrastinator,” says Katie, quoted earlier. “I just can’t seem to make myself get started on an assignment until the last minute.” Avoid procrastination by having a definite schedule for your homework and sticking to it.
Schoolwork is important, but as Jesus pointed out to Martha, the most important pursuits—‘the good portions’—are spiritual ones. Make sure that homework does not crowd out such important activities as Bible reading, participation in the ministry, and attendance at Christian meetings. These are things that will enrich your life eternally!—Psalm 1:1, 2; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
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Trying to juggle too many activities can make it hard for you to find time for homework
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Good organization can help you find more time to do your homework