Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? You try to read and get distracted by Snapchat. You’re doing your math homework until you’re little sister comes barreling through the kitchen. The new BuzzFeed quiz sounds way more appealing than starting your French paper.

End homework distractions

Research shows that even a 3-second interruption (like the time it takes to glance at your buzzing phone) has the power to completely derail the task you’re working on and makes you more likely to mess up.

Want to defeat homework distractions once and for all? Here are nine interruption busters to help you concentrate on what you need to do to reach your goals.

1. Make homework a habit.

You brush your teeth before bed; it’s just what happens. Same with homework. You do homework after school. Or, you do homework after dinner. Your schedule might vary from day to day, but in general being consistent about when homework will happen assures that it will become second nature.

2. Find your perfect study space.

Doing your homework in roughly the same place every night will help cement the routine. Whether it’s the public library, on your bed, or at the kitchen table, find a study space to make your own.

3. Get rid of unnecessary interruptions.

Distractions are often electronic but not always (rowdy younger siblings definitely count!). Wear headphones. Silence those enticing app notifications. You probably need your computer to do research or type up your lit essay so consider using a browser extension like StayFocused to block chronically distracting sites (like your favorite blog or Instagram).

4. Plan ahead.

Take a look at everything you have to do and gather up ALL the gear you’ll need to do it. Have a trig quiz? Grab your calculator. Reading a chapter for biology? Make sure a highlighter is handy. Going on a search for supplies is a surefire way to derail homework.

5. Big projects? Start small.

If you’ve got a big assignment looming, like a research paper, stay motivated by completing a small piece of the project every few days. It’s easy to get distracted if the project seems too complicated or has a distant due date. Even writing just a few sentences a night will keep your essay on track.

6. Give your brain a break.

Our brains and bodies aren’t wired to do the same thing for too long. Attempting to complete a complicated geometry problem set in one sitting could end up frustrating you and make you want to give up. Make sure you are allowing yourself plenty of breaks—walk the dog, have a dance party, scan your Twitter feed—to get the blood flowing and get the brain moving.

7. Shift subjects.

You’ve got homework from lots of different teachers across multiple subjects. Who says you have to finish your Spanish dialogue before moving on to chemistry? When your mind starts wandering or you’ve just had enough, it’s ok (and often very productive!) to move on to something else. You may end up shifting subjects a few times before your assignments are completed.

8. Get loose.

Your study routine doesn’t have to be monotonous, especially if you are “actively” rather than passively involved with homework  So take notes on passages as you read them. Or, create flashcards for vocab words. Don’t just study the biology diagram; try to replicate it. The more senses that are involved in the work, the more you will retain and the less likely you will zone out and read the same thing over and over with no comprehension.

9. Still can’t focus? We can help!

Sometimes an “outside force” can be very motivating. If you’re stuck, our online tutors are available 24/7 and can help you get back on track in just a few minutes.

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