February 6, 2014 WHEN YOU GET EASILY DISTRACTED WHILE DOING HOMEWORK Today’s question came in anonymously. It reads: I get distracted a lot when I’m doing homework. Can you tell me a way to not get distracted so I can finish things faster? My Advice: Hi there! I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about, and I…BRB, just saw something shiny. I kid! In all seriousness, I really do feel your pain, and I’m pretty sure everyone who’s reading this can relate. Let’s face it: we live in a super distracting world! Every time we sit down to do homework, we can expect to be distracted by any or all of the following: Calls, texts, or social media messages from friends Annoying questions from our brothers or sisters (No, Brianna, for the millionth time, I don’t know why the sky is blue!!) Interruptions from our parents about stupid stuff (even though they’ll be super mad later if we don’t finish our homework) Memories about funny stuff that happened in school (or awkward, embarrassing stuff that happened) that makes it tough to focus Curiosity about what’s on TV (or a sixth sense that there’s a TV on somewhere in the house, and we, too, should be watching it!) Cats that like to jump on our desk and walk all over our homework Dogs with saliva-covered tennis balls in their mouth who refuse to stop whimpering until someone plays with them Obsessive thoughts about all the other WAY MORE FUN things we could be doing (like playing Candy Crush!) Persistent feelings of disgust for a school system that gives us WAY too much homework, and daydreams about starting a revolution to take that system down!! (Or is that just me?) As the list CLEARLY illustrates, it’s super hard to focus! But fear not, my anonymous friend. I have a few simple tips that might make it a little easier. 1. Pick a time and place where you’re less likely to be distracted by people and technology. For me, the only place that fits the bill is my bathroom, but I’m not a fan of curling up in my tub with a stack of books and a number 2 pencil. So instead, I sometimes stay after school and do my homework in the library. I know, I’m a total dork for staying in school when I could easily leave! But sometimes Chloe and Zoey do their homework there, too, which makes it more fun. And this way, I can just chill when I get home! That brings me to my next point… 2. Get an “anti-distraction” buddy. Ask a friend to do homework with you, and make a pact that you will both tell each other if you’re not focusing well enough. Think, “Psst, Marcy! Stop checking Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg won’t give you the answers to those math problems!” (That’s the guy who started Facebook, in case you didn’t know!) And lastly… 3. Give yourself breaks if you have a lot of stuff to do. If you have more than a couple hours of homework, like I sometimes do (which is why I’m totally serious about that revolution!) then you’re probably setting yourself up to fail if you don’t give yourself breaks in between. So instead of making yourself plow through it all and eventually feeling antsy, take a break every 20−30 minutes to get a snack, stretch your legs, do whatever. Just make sure you don’t start anything that will take a long time to finish. If you start watching your favorite movie or text your friend, “OMG, what was all that drama about in math today!” odds are, you won’t make it back to the books! What do you guys think? Do you have any advice about staying focused?