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Tips on completing homework faster.

As a university student with a job and many goals, I must finish my homework as fast as possible so I can focus on essential things in life. While homework is important for learning the content of a class and ensuring a great score on an exam, many students spend an excessive amount of time on homework. There are more effective and more accessible ways to complete homework. Sometimes, there are more effective ways to learn a concept in class than homework. A better option is to understand the concept through other means and then easily tackle the homework. At the university I attend, they expect that you do 3 hours' worth of homework/studying outside of that class for every hour in class you have. So essentially, they expect me to spend 45 hours a week on homework. That's a full-time job worth of hours. If you are in California and replace that time with an actual job at minimum wage, you would make $2,790 a month. Every time you spend on homework is time you could be spending to earn money... or other important things like friends or hobbies. While they expect me to spend 45 hours on homework a week, I spend, on average, less than 10 hours on homework a week and have exceptional grades. Everyone studies and completes homework at a different pace, so while these tips may not instantly make your time doing homework like mine, they will definitely decrease how much you spend on homework. The less time you spend on homework, the better.

How important is homework?

The first thing to recognize is how important a homework assignment is. A golden rule I follow is: "Homework based on classes of my major and connects to my future career matter; anything else can just scatter." For example, I'm a psychology major, so I will spend more time on homework from my psychology class. However, I should spend less time on my homework in my English class based on books that most of the population never heard of and will never be mentioned in the future of my major/career. I know how to read and write, and I can practice reading and writing with content that is important for what I want to become rather than content for a random class. It would be best to decide which classes have meaningful homework assignments versus which ones don't so you can prioritize your attention. Of course, I am not suggesting you go and put no effort towards these assignments. Put in effort, just not more than necessary. For these classes, do the homework to complete it and learn it for the exam, not to internalize it for life. Many courses have you study to the point that you memorize things for longer than needed. You definitely don't need to memorize the symbol of a rose in a book 2 years later (unless you either really like that book or you are an English major). Homework that impacts your future is important, not those that don't. (Oh, and not doing your graded homework assignment is not an option; every point can make a difference.)

Tip 1: Improve the necessary skills.

One of the main reasons I can do homework assignments faster than the average is that I have improved skills that will help me do assignments. While this is not an instant way to cut hours on homework, it's definitely the most critical way. For example, I learned how to type properly and practiced growing up. My typing speed averages around 80 words per minute and will go up to 95 words per minute. A teacher gives me a 2000-word assignment that's basically a 2-week assignment (most professors I met give this assignment about a month to do). How long would I complete the project if I typed non-stop without a break on average? 25 minutes. How about a person who types 60 words per minute, which is how fast people usually order after going through a typing course? 33 minutes. Of course, it would take much longer because I would need to research, think, and revise. However, typing speed does make a difference in the time it takes to complete an assignment. Websites like teach you how to type for free. Alone, it doesn't seem like a lot, but if you also improve the following skills:

  • Researching skills (Highly important)

  • reading speed (Highly important)

  • sketching

  • handwriting neatness and speed

  • Mental math

  • technology literacy (google doc)

  • Critical thinking and brainstorming (very important)

  • Writing structures

  • Effective notetaking

It changes from you shaving off minutes on an assignment to hours. For assignments that take classmates 8 hours, it will take me under 2 because I have practiced all these skills over my life. Some of these skills can be quickly learned, and others can be practiced with time. For example, to practice research skills, go on Google whenever you get curious about something random! Scan for keywords that answer your questions on multiple sites, and check if they are creditworthy. Read books or fiction articles on your own time for critical thinking and brainstorming. Look for essential details in the writing and makeup things like "What if??". In the past, I would read poems on Instagram, and I always asked myself why a poet did something and let my imagination run wild. Now, whenever my English professor says to point out something small in a book, it takes me less than 60 seconds to come up with something that will have the class discussing for 20 minutes. It's definitely a skill... all of it. I had to practice and perfect these skills. Go online and learn how you can train each of these skills. Over time, these skills will make your academic life better and homework done faster.

Tip 2: Use technology:

Technology will be your greatest ally to all the majors that are heavy in science and math. Too often, I see students of all grades stare at a math problem because they don't know where to start or are stuck. Don't do this; you are wasting valuable time. If you don't remember and the notes you took in class won't help, you will not magically come up with an answer soon. You need to search for a YouTube video on that exact math lesson/assignment (articles work well, too). This is why: even if they aren't solving your problem, you can follow the steps side by side to answer your own question. For all the undergraduates reading this, I assure you that whatever you are studying (unless it is a rare book), someone has taught and studied before... and it's online. Don't hesitate to use technology. While I don't suggest making technology like AI complete all the questions on an assignment for you (cause then you won't learn), I recommend solving the first question of every different lesson or technique. Therefore, the process can be lined out for you, and you can revise your notes to match it. Learning the process of getting the answer is the most important within these classes... especially because these classes are usually exam-heavy. Same thing for science majors. There are lots of videos online to teach you experiments and processes... use them. Even if you have to learn how to do a lesson before tackling the assignment, you will save more time than if you slowly went through the problems, unsure how you're doing it. YouTube videos have helped me save hours on learning content, which will help you, too.

Tip 3: Effective Skimming:

This tip is vital for assignments that are research-heavy and English-heavy. These assignments are very time-consuming because reading takes much time, even for a fast reader. Giving a conscious, in-depth reading on an assignment will take a lot of time away from yourself. The funny thing is, you didn't have to read all that. For example, to write a research article on stopping climate change, you don't need to read extra text about the creator's background or the opinions of the researchers. What you need is the facts, so skim for the points. Look for phrases that sound effective in convincing climate change to be stopped. Use "Ctrl+f" and search up keywords like "stop," "prevent," and "fight." Look for the facts you need; don't waste time reading fluff. Many students get caught up reading fluff when they can save time by effective skimming. For my English class, reading the book can take some time. So when I don't have the free time (or don't want to), I skim the books for similes and metaphors. As soon as I spot one, I write about it... and boom, done with the assignment. While it took classmates 8 hours to get through the chapter and finish the assignment, I did it in an hour through effective skimming. Skim for what you need to complete an assignment; don't get stuck with the fluff.

Tip 4: Just start working:

This tip will make a massive impact on how long it takes you to do your homework without a doubt. Most students freeze at the start of an assignment. Some are unsure how to start the paper or which equation to use for a problem. Just start typing, start writing, and start solving. As a psych major, trust me when I say that once you start working, the flow of your thinking will save you a lot of time. It's always faster to begin working and revise than to get stuck on brainstorming.

Tip 5: Productive timing:

This tip is crucial when shaving off how much time you are doing homework. Have you ever stayed up late at night trying to cram homework assignments before you go to your morning class the next day? Of course, you have! Let me guess: you stayed up at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. doing the assignment. When you work late at night, the later it gets, the more exhausted you become. You become more prone to making mistakes, you think slower, and you become too tired to work effectively. There are plenty of nights where I get stuck on a question in calculus, staring at it blankly and getting nowhere... only to fall asleep. The moment that I wake up, I solve it in under 45 seconds. Falling asleep and waking up earlier is more effective than staying up late at night. Falling asleep would function like a power nap, giving you a short burst of energy that lets you work faster and more accurately. This tip is focused on knowing when your body is most effective at working. Don't push yourself during your limits; strive when you have the advantage.

Tip 6: Collaborations:

Working with others will make a difference. While I am an individual who enjoys doing my studies alone, there are ways I recognize that collaborating accelerates assignments that just can't be done when working alone. For example, "sectional studying". Everyone is better at certain things than others. While I may be excellent at math, I may struggle with biological functions, and I have a friend who is vice versa... there is definitely an assignment with both. Having another person when completing your homework will be helpful because you will have someone covering your weaknesses while you cover theirs. This helps avoid getting stuck on questions and saves time.

Furthermore, if everyone gets stuck on one problem, having multiple brains is more effective than just having one. Completing assignments in sections while in a group is very beneficial. Assign every person in the group a section where they do best, and then when everyone finishes their sections, "copy" off each other. This is very effective in group projects like labs or long math assignments. For math, the person who completed the section can teach the method to the rest of the group so everyone is still learning while completing the homework much faster. Doing work in groups and with others will definitely save time.

Tip 7: Make a work setting:

Just last week, I was checking up on a friend who goes to UCLA. We discussed her experience of being a first year, focusing on the rigors of her classes and the painful moments of biology that she endures. While catching up, she randomly announces that she took a trip to the library. I asked, "So you study in the library?"

And she says, "I try to!"

Notice that this friend of mine has a specific setting to do her homework. This setting helps her focus and gets her in a more productive mood rather than just starting her homework in her dorm or at some random place. She found herself a work setting where she trains her body to focus on work when she's within that place. Do the same if you want to do your homework faster. Working in areas that lack distraction and promote productivity can significantly affect how long you can complete an assignment. Everyone has a different setting they prefer to work in. For people like my friend, it's the library; for others, it can be a cafe, an empty classroom, their dorm, or even outside. Find the place that's best for you to study in. If you can't find one... make one. Change your dorm in a way that promotes your productive needs. Decorate the walls and the desks, open (or close) the window, etc. Finding a specific place to do your work will help you complete homework faster.

Tip 8: Music:

Music changes everything. If you aren't the rare few who study the best in silence, this tip is meant for you. Your brain loves to work in a pattern, a rhythm. Music makes that so much easier. I play older jazz music when I'm writing blogs or working on homework assignments; friends of mine play Spanish music or rock music. Many people I know use lofi or classical music. Music can make you so much more productive, so find your own study music. Music that's not heavy in words, like rap or certain pop songs, is more effective in helping people with academic work. Go on YouTube and try lofi music; many college students use it to help them prepare for midterms and finals. Using music to help you think and work on a flow, you will complete your homework assignments faster and save time. Find yourself a genre of music that helps you work cause then, you will later have time to help yourself.

In Conclusion:

The main elements to completing a homework assignment faster are to work on a flow, improve skills that support you with academics, and use external assistance like technology or friends to complete assignments. You will shave off hours on those long, dreadful assignments and get to the things you love most, like friends and family. Always remember, life isn't forever... so live the best you can with the time you have in this world. Don't live doing homework; live to be you.

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