Taking the Stress Out of Homework

Like many other students at Purdue, I am frequently and constantly feeling stressed or anxious about my classes. The “C’s get degrees” mantra is real, but I am always shooting for the best grade I can get. This means I am often going crazy trying to keep up with the homework, readings, quizzes, projects, and tests constantly being thrown at me. After a year of the constant cycle of stress and anxiety, I found that there are better ways to approach the mountain of homework that not only helps me do well in classes, but helps me worry way less about the mountain itself.

First, organize and plan. I know that probably sounds silly and you may have even tried this before, but organizing and setting goals for myself makes all the difference. I love using my planner, but sometimes I don’t even write my plans down, simply thinking about what I want to accomplish for the day and equally as importantly, what I am not going to worry about today. Perhaps one of the most important things I have learned is that not everything has to be done the minute I receive it or on the same day. I stagger my homework so that I don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged by the amount I have to do. In short: setting small, attainable goals makes homework easier to deal with and way less stressful.

Second, reward yourself!  If you set your goal for the day, reward yourself each time you complete a task!  I use this system for nearly everything I do in a day whether it’s working out, homework, or chores.  For example, the 45 minute work 15 minute break system doesn’t really work for me (though this is a great system that is worth a try), but when I finish something such as my math homework, I stop and reward myself, be it with an episode of my favorite show on Netflix, a YouTube video, a nap, or whatever sort of reward works for me that day.  The key to a good working reward system is to make sure that it doesn’t derail the rest of your day (aka don’t let one episode turn into a binge), but to make sure that you enjoy your reward, taking a break from the stress of homework, and then move right into the next task once the reward is done.  Rewards help me have a positive association with my work, and help me keep my stress and anxiety low since I am not working for hours on end straight.   

Finally, keep it in perspective.  This is the most important key for me personally.  I try to frame my life into the perspective someone taught me this past summer: “Ask yourself this question: Will this matter a week from now?  A month from now?  A year from now?  5 years from now?”.  I love this perspective because it keeps me in check.  While the homework I am currently freaking out about may seem like my whole world right now, I won’t even remember that I did this assignment 5 years from now.  This helps me keep the scale of my stress in perspective.  There is no use in freaking out about homework 24/7.   I won’t remember every single assignment I did in college, but I will remember that time I put my homework aside to go on a late-night fast food run with my friends.  For me, life is all about perspective and enjoyment.  So, while homework is important, and I’m sure every professor would tell you that you need to do those readings, sometimes it's more important to take care of yourself and spend time doing something you love.  Just don’t do this for every single assignment and quiz.