Tips for Fighting Homework Fatigue in 4 Minutes
- Posted August 01, 2014 by Christina Schiel in College Life
- Tags:College Life
It happens to every student: Your eyes start to hurt because you've been staring at the computer screen for too long without blinking. Your forehead is practically resting on the screen since your body has been inching closer to it. Your back hurts because of the leaning, your eyes just want to close, and best of all, you have homework to finish.
Yes, taking a power nap sounds appealing. Yes, watching a 30-minute TV show would give your brain a break. However, if you're like most of us, a power nap turns into not getting out of bed and that 30-minute TV show transforms into two hours of channel surfing. Fight the desire to tackle the assignment later when you're "better rested," because you and I both know that you can conquer this homework assignment now; you just don't want to.
Here's the solution: Trick yourself into getting the energy to complete it. In four minutes, you can persuade your mind that now is the perfect time to devour that low-hanging fruit.
Minutes 1 and 2: Stand up. Walk away from your computer. Shake out your arms and legs. Roll your shoulders backwards then forwards. Kick out your feet. Roll your wrists. Walk up and down stairs if you have them. I even encourage you to do a few jumping jacks. Whatever you do, just keep moving.
Why it works: The body and mind have a dependent relationship on each other. If you're couch-potatoing it, your brain is going to get sleepy. However, if your body is moving, your brain knows that it has to be ready for anything.
Minute 3: Get a pen and paper—don't go back to your homework yet!—and write down all the reasons why you're getting your degree. Don't worry about full sentences, this won't be graded. You can put short phrases such as "children," "get a job," "promotion," "exceed expectations," whatever you like. Write as many reasons as you can, and when you run out of reasons, simply write, "I can succeed. I will succeed" until you hit minute 4.
Why it works: Now that your brain is more alert thanks to the physical activity, it can focus on the bigger picture and not the lonely TV remote. What you're writing on paper is persuading your brain to think beyond just tonight and how this assignment is a step toward long-term success. Your brain will believe what you tell it to believe, so put the right motivators out there.
Minute 4: Bribery and Trickery. For the last minute I want you to do two things. First, think about what you can do tomorrow, if you finish your homework tonight. Don't write them down; just let them fill your thoughts. Think, "If I finish this assignment tonight... I won't have to worry about it tomorrow; I can watch that baseball game without multitasking; I can have homework-free time with my kids." Envision it and imagine what tomorrow will be without this homework lurking. Second, smile a big show-off-your-teeth grin. Yes, it'll feel weird just smiling randomly, but do it.
Why it works: Because bribery and trickery work. Our brains are programmed for tit-for-tat. There has to be a reward for everything. Tell yourself what the reward is now, so you have something to work toward. As for smiling, a smile can trick your body into thinking that you should be happy right now. A frown can persuade your brain otherwise. Remember, you control what your brain thinks. Make it positive.
Now, you re-energized student, be inspired and go tackle that assignment!
For more tips on how to succeed at school, read our College Life blog.
Though the quality of your work should (and often does) speak volumes about your integrity and abilities, your reputation also matters. It's entirely possible to have a great performance history muddled by a poor reputation, or a bumpy track record made up for by an image of personal commitment and integrity.
One of the worst qualities that can be associated with your name is laziness--a conscious lack of desire or motivation to put effort into your job. Laziness means a bad attitude on top of a poor performance, and being seen as lazy can destroy your professional reputation.
Watch out for these 10 phrases, any one of which could illustrate you as a lazy worker.
1. That isn't my job. Each of us has specific talents and specific responsibilities in our professional roles, and inevitably, we're tasked with things that fall outside those parameters. You might be asked to research something that's outside your comfort zone or help out with another department's workload. Flat-out rejecting a request like these by stating "that isn't my job" will make you seem lazy. Instead, try to take it on--if you absolutely can't, use softer, more logical reasoning to suggest a party who might be able to handle it more efficiently.
2. I'm just following orders. If someone questions the way you're going about a given task, this is probably the laziest response you can give. "I'm just following orders" implies a number of different things; it implies you don't much care for the end results of the project. It implies you aren't interested in going above and beyond the bare minimum. It even implies that you aren't willing to hear outside perspectives. In short, it makes you seem close-minded and apathetic in addition to being lazy.
3. I know what I'm doing. This phrase is almost exclusively used in response to someone else's unsolicited advice or questioning. It may irk you when someone from outside your department makes a comment about work that's going on in your department, but this isn't the right way to handle it. If you really know what you're doing, you can take a few seconds to clarify the other party's misconception. Otherwise, you can consider their criticism or objection fairly.
4. I just have a lot on my plate right now. This is a phrase often used in truth, but there's one key problem with it; all of us have a lot on our plates, almost all the time. Even at your least busy, there are probably dozens of background tasks and potential projects that are occupying your mind. Stating that your plate is full implies that you think your time is more valuable than everyone else's, or that you're simply unwilling to take on new work (even though everyone else in your company probably is).
5. This wasn't my fault. Taking responsibility when something goes wrong takes effort, integrity, and determination. Passing the blame requires none of these. It's definitely the easier option, but that makes it the lazier one as well. If something goes wrong, don't immediately try to pass the buck; take responsibility for whatever part of the incident was your fault--odds are, there's something you'll have to take accountability for.
6. I deserve more. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the workforce thinks of themselves as underpaid, undervalued, and overworked. It's natural to want more, but stating you deserve more without any specific research-backed or logical evidence illustrates you not only as lazy, but also entitled. If you really want to make this claim, do so with objective data.
7. I have a stupid question. Preempting your question with a qualifying phrase like this implies one of two possible scenarios. In scenario one, you know your question has been answered already in some form, and you're too lazy to try and figure out the answer on your own. In scenario two, you're afraid your question isn't well thought-out, so instead of thinking it through in greater detail, you decided to hedge your bets by admitting it might be stupid. Neither is good for your image.
8. I would have done that differently. When someone does something wrong or inefficiently, it's easy to state something like this. However, this phrasing doesn't actually solve anything. First, it shows that you "would have" done something, but you didn't do anything--making you seem lazy in the past. Second, it shows you're more focused on criticizing the past than changing the future, making you seem lazy in the present.
9. I don't know how to do that. There are lots of responsibilities you won't know how to handle well. It's a natural part of most jobs. If you're really struggling with an assignment, don't be afraid to ask for help, but you have to at least try to tackle it on your own. Instead of saying "I don't know how to do that," try to figure it out on your own first.
10. I don't care. This is the ultimate expression of laziness and detachment, no matter what context it's used in. There will be things in your company that you genuinely don't care about--but in those cases, it's far better to just keep your mouth shut.
You don't have to pull late nights and long hours to avoid being seen as lazy, and it's entirely reasonable to occasionally turn down an assignment, but be careful how you conduct yourself and choose your words wisely. All it takes is one bad or misinterpreted situation to harm your reputation. Work hard, show your commitment, and don't pass off work you can handle on others--do these things, and it's unlikely you'll ever have a problem with seeming lazy in the workplace.