OPINION: 15 Tips and Tricks for Catching up with School Work -That You’ve Never Heard Before


With MODG’s rigorous curriculum, it is not unusual for students to find themselves behind in subjects. And sometimes playing catch-up in one subject causes neglect in another, requiring even more catch-up in other areas. No matter why, how or when you got behind, here are 15 tips and tricks for catching up on school-work that you’ve probably never heard before.

  1. Give yourself breaks. Yes, you read that correctly. The last thing you should do is spend every moment of your time trying to catch up. If you do, you will burn yourself out, and your mind will become useless to you. Your mind and your body will be healthier if you schedule time to relax, momentarily forget your worries and have a good and peaceful time. A healthy mind and body will make the time you spend working much more productive.
  2. Make bizarre bets with yourself. Bizarre is key in this one, since schoolwork is often only too mundane for a lively young brain. Make bets such as: however many grapes you throw up into the air and fail to catch in your mouth, is the amount of minutes x5 you’ll spend on your next subject, or if you finish the outline of your paper in under 45 minutes exactly, then you can draw a yellow smiley face on your school notes instead of an evil, red frowning one (with horns).
  3. Tell a trusted friend about your predicament and your plan to catch up. This will motivate you to accomplish what you set out to do, because when your friend inevitably asks about it again, you sure don’t want to be embarrassed. Better yet, if it’s a close friend, they’ll be able to tell if you lie about your progress; there will be no escape.
  4. Make a procrastination chart. (And please, name it something awesome, such as the “Procrastination Station,” “Bart the Chart,” “the Boxes of Doom,” etc.) Every time you find yourself procrastinating, even in tiny ways, check off a square in that chart by marking down the date in it. Not only will you be annoyed by how many squares you see yourself filling, but as you get better, you’ll be proud of how few there are.
  5. Think about how focusing on school is practice for the PSAT/SAT/ACT tests. Just by spending time focusing on school and fighting distraction, you’re preparing for those nerve-wracking standardized tests. Staying focused and working as fast as you can on those tests is tremendously difficult and exhausting, and by practicing focus–even if it’s not at the rigorous pace of those tests–you are making that experience that much easier. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
  6. Figure out whether you work better in short or long study increments in each subject. Efficiency is another key element. Some people work better if they focus on one subject for 25 minutes, then work on another for 25 minutes, and so on until they’ve worked on every subject at least twice in their rotation. Others work better by focusing for an hour or more straight on a subject, then taking a breath before moving on to another subject. The latter type may sometimes even find changing to new subjects difficult and annoying. Further, there are some who are in between or find themselves one or the other depending on the subject. The main goal is to identify what studying pattern is best for you, and to start working that way.
  7. Set timers all the time. With a timer ticking, things get real. Your mind goes from, “I’ve only been working for half an hour? Seriously? This is never going to end!” to “Thirty minutes already? I’ve gotta hurry and get this done before time’s up!” As a bonus, when you get distracted, your timer will eventually go off and you’ll be brought back on track. You can try setting different lengths of time and experiment, but, by golly, just set your timer!
  8. Do take little short-cuts when you can . . . as long as they’re good ones. This in no way means cheating, period. And this is tricky, since it does take a level of discernment, but if you are seriously far behind in schoolwork, then the occasion might call for quantity over quality. This is one you should definitely consult with parents on, (because they want you to be caught up too). Taking short-cuts could mean working every other practice problem, or reading a book or play–you’re a MODGer; you read a lot of Shakespeare–in the order: summary, beginning, ending and then middle if you have the time. This could also mean asking your grandfather about his opinion of World War II, so you have ideas about where to focus your research and studying. Again, whatever you do, please don’t cheat.
  9. Multitasking power. If you can do two things at once, then do them. If you’re a ballerina, you can do your stretches and read your text-book simultaneously. Or if your schoolwork assigns you classic literature to read, ask your parents’ permission to find an audio-book version to listen to while you do chores, or even work on simple calculation problems in math.
  10. If you’re creative, come up with a fictional scenario for the day’s schoolwork. If you are a story-lover, and especially if you find yourself day-dreaming far too often, you can make the schoolwork less miserable by turning the stressful work into a fantastical story. For example: you’re the apprentice of a curmudgeonly wizard and your chemistry homework is your alchemy study, upon which your graduation from a brown robe to a grey one is dependant. It may seem silly, but you might just find yourself daydreaming less and having more focus on your work. Plus, it may distract your mind from worrying about how far behind you are. Just don’t get too carried away!
  11. Do a more enjoyable subject first thing in the morning, then do the current worst subject second. Do this especially if that “current worst subject” is the one in which you’re behind. In most areas of life, it is recommended to get the worst done and over with first; however, in some cases that can lead to dread, which can result in procrastination. You are much more likely to have an early and fresh start to your busy day if you know you get to start with your favorite subject first. Once that’s done, your mind is much more ready to tackle the subjects of greater drudgery. And it’s still one of the first things you’re getting done!
  12. Literally write a list of 10+ reasons why you shouldn’t be on social media right now. These reasons will come from yourself, not your parents, not your teachers and not an online article with schoolwork tips. The next 10+ times you feel the urge to check social media you’ll have a reason of your own not to.
  13. Create compromises with your activities, but do not give them up if you can help it. Having activities outside of school is very beneficial and will prevent you from burning out. However, your high school grades are what may get you into certain colleges and will certainly help you get scholarships. They are important too. Thus, create compromises with your activities, whether that means only going to soccer practice once a week until you’re caught up, only painting on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, or, in the more dire circumstances, choosing one activity to continue and dropping another. Find time to enjoy yourself, especially in ways you can interact with other people, but be reasonable and do what is necessary for your academic success.
  14. Change your surroundings. A fresh viewpoint can sometimes be like a breath of fresh air, allowing you to accomplish your work efficiently, peacefully, and with extra focus. You could give yourself a drastic change, such as going to a library (or a new library), or, if weather permits, going to your backyard or a nearby park. Small changes can work too, such as putting a new, fun decoration on your desk, or working in a different room.
  15. Write an article with 15 ways to help catch up on schoolwork. If all else fails and life still hands you lemons, write an article, and you’re bound to come up with some lemonade.

Do you have any tips and tricks you think no one else has ever heard before? What would you add? Which of these do you think would be most helpful?