zen habits : breathe

6 Ways For Teens to Avoid Distractions and Finish Homework

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by my eldest daughter, Chloe Babauta. She’s 17 and a junior in high school, and spent the day with me on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. You can follow her on Twitter.

With all the distractions we’re presented with from the Internet and other forms of media these days, it can be very difficult for teens to focus on schoolwork.

It is so convenient to tweet what you’re doing, text your friends, watch Davedays on YouTube, or to do an infinite number of things when you’re supposed to be researching for an essay.

I’ll admit that just during the time it took to write this post, I’ve taken several breaks just to go on Facebook to see what everyone’s up to. Don’t worry – everyone will still be there after you’re done doing your work, so close Firefox/Chrome/Safari and get down to business.

Here are a few ways to increase your productivity and try to break away from distractions:

1. Turn off your wireless/Internet connection.

I know, it sounds crazy to deliberately cut off your connection to the outside world, but just do it. It eliminates your ability to easily open up your Internet browser and will help you to focus on what you really should be doing.

2. Set aside a specific time for using social networking/other recreational websites.

I’ve allotted myself some time to use the computer from 5:30-6:30 in the evening. I know that if I don’t give myself any limits, I’m capable of staying on Facebook and “becoming a fan” of fifty more pages instead of writing an essay or doing my math homework. I’m sure many people experience this problem too, so make sure to set aside about an hour (or whatever works for you) for leisure time.

3. Take short breaks.

After reading my American History book for too long, I tend to waste about half an hour by taking a nap. So to save myself from becoming insanely bored, I take little breaks by checking MySpace for a few minutes or getting a snack. I suggest that you do your homework or read for about ten to fifteen minutes at a time, then take a two to five minute break to maintain your sanity.

4. Do your work NOW rather than later.

I am a seasoned procrastinator. I’m guilty of wasting hours on end watching or making YouTube videos, chatting on instant messengers, or just daydreaming. I’ve learned the hard way that procrastination is not very rewarding and almost always results in bags under your eyes and B minuses (though there are several cases in which I’ve gotten exceptionally good grades for papers I had written at midnight). Do yourself a favor in advance, and start your work ahead of time.

5. Prioritize!

Ten years from now, do you want to look back at your life and realize that you spent a greater portion of your teen years sitting down in front of a laptop, rather than doing things that actually matter? Spend some time with your family or go outside and take a walk. Read a book, or do something with yourself that doesn’t involve a computer. (This is something I really need to work on too.)

6. Spend less time reading blogs like these about how to help yourself and get right to work! NOW!

The only way to really live productively is to go out and start actually living! After you’ve read up on how to become more productive, put your newly obtained knowledge to use.


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