Want to Find Focus While You Do Your Homework? Try These Attention-Grabbing Ideas!

You made it! Another day of school is behind you, and all you can think about is hopping onto a round of Fortnite with your friends or an exhilarating conversation on Snapchat. You bound into the house through the front door, grab a snack, and just as you are about to plant your can on the couch, you hear your mom belt out, “Hi Honey, how was your day today?” Screech! Hit the brakes; the vision of technological bliss evaporates in that moment, because, wait for it…you know what’s coming next: “Do you have any homework?” Argh! That dreaded question puts the kibosh to every student’s afterschool plans on a daily basis. They know that question is code for, “You really need to sit down and do your homework now.”

It’s normal for students to feel the dread that precedes homework. Why wouldn’t they? They just spent the entire day running a marathon of sorts-listening to directions, processing information, memorizing facts, navigating crowded hallways…the list goes on. Kids who have ADHD invest an inordinate amount of mental energy to stay focused and on top of their game. Their depleted brains are running on vapor by the time they arrive home from school. The prospect of engaging in homework frequently evokes anxiety and stress, and all of this make it difficult to focus.

Creating a sense of focus begins with preventive measures and ends with reward. Try these game-changing steps to establish your cranial center:

Clear your head-to do anything successfully, you must ground yourself. Clear your mind of all those thoughts swirling around inside. Engage in mindfulness exercises to empower yourself to be in the present. Create a mantra like, “You got this,” or “Let’s GOOOOOO!” to spark inner energy and enthusiasm about the journey ahead. Homework is not just about the completion of assignments, it requires the building of that concentration and focus muscle. Just as you lift weights to build your biceps or train to run a marathon, developing your focus requires practice and consistency.

Clear your space: now that your mind is clear, it’s time to tidy up the workspace. Make sure your table or desktop is cleared of any unnecessary items. Eliminate any distractions like phones, toys, etc. All supplies like paperclips, tape, staplers, highlighters, pens, pencils, and calculators need to be within arm’s reach. Similarly, be sure your school materials are close by, so you do not need to make multiple trips to another location to retrieve what you need.

Set the tone-your need to create a relaxed environment. Lower the tension and stress by using essential oils or scented candles (Make sure never to leave the candles unattended.) Use good lighting, not too bright, but not so soft and dim that you can’t see what you are doing. Ambient noise like music, the ocean, a creek, white noise, or environment-specific sounds like recordings of coffeehouses, city streets can help to drown out the noise in your mind. The use of beanbags with a lap desk, study pillows, exercise balls, and swivel desk chairs ensure you are physically comfortable, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

Map out your route: before you begin, take stock of what’s on tap for the night: What do you have for homework? What does DONE look like? What do you need to complete the assignments? When is each one due? How must you submit each assignment? How do you plan to reward yourself when all is said and done?

Take your pulse: How are you feeling about each task? Which ones are easier, and which require more attention? Unpack your emotions, and determine a plan of action to address any obstacles you are anticipating.

Strategize: Should you start with the harder assignments and get them over with? Or do you need to get your feet wet with an easier assignment, build some confidence, and work up to the more difficult tasks? When considering your course of action, consider the time of day and whether your medication (if you are taking any for ADHD) is about to dwindle.

Break it down: break tougher and longer assignments into smaller chunks, making a list of each one and checking each one off as you complete it. Seeing that you are making progress is reassuring and creates a sense of accomplishment. This productivity sparks motivation, allowing you to continue to the next step.

I spy: Utilizing visual cues like the aforementioned lists, color coding of materials, and schedules promote organization, which helps to improve attention and focus.

Timing is everything: Use timers or alarms to establish work boundaries and breaks. When taking breaks, be sure to set an alarm to snap you back to work.

Incorporate breaks: Schedule short, frequent movement breaks to release extra wiggle-provoking energy and promote focus. These breaks can involve stretching, jumping jacks, or other physical activities. Weave breaks in with short, desirable activities, making sure to avoid extra-curricular screen time until homework is completed for the night.

Reward yourself: after you have reached your goals for the night, pat yourself on the back! Whether you indulge in a tasty treat, go for a heart-pounding run, or spend time with friends, choose a reward that has personal value and meaning for you. Play with your pet; get some ice cream, or visit your favorite bookstore or coffee house, and celebrate your victories! Positive reinforcement helps build motivation, self-esteem, and a sense of accomplishment, all of which promote focus!

Focus is a necessary component of successful homework completion. Here’s the thing: setting the stage ahead of time and executing your plan of action not only helps to ensure your ability to concentrate, but it will aid your successful arrival at the finish line.