Ask Allison: How do I stay on track?

ask-alisonDear Allison,

I’m starting college this semester for the first time. I’m taking five classes, and I also work 20-25 hours a week. I can’t seem to get a handle on when to get my homework done so I can get it in on time. I’ve already turned in two assignments late, and I’ve gotten points taken off because of this. It doesn’t help that I didn’t ever really have any homework in high school, so I’m not used to planning it into my day.

Too often, instead of doing my homework, I’ll just hang out on the couch and watch TV or play video games because I’m so exhausted. How can I stop procrastinating and get all my homework done on time?

Dear Student,

Thanks for your question. Procrastination is a huge problem for many students (and most people, for that matter). It’s hard when you’re tired from work, and you actually need some down time to just unwind. Also, many students in college find that the homework load is very different for them than it was in high school, so that can be a big shock to their systems.

Here are some suggestions to get you on track with homework.

  1. Try to schedule some time every day to work on homework (don’t just pick one or two days a week).
  2. Use time before and after class or between classes to work on homework (you don’t need a three hour chunk of time).
  3. Make a to-do list every day for homework assignments and other things you have to do. Keep it someplace you can look at it frequently and cross off what you accomplish as you go.
  4. Try to do homework earlier in the day, so you can unwind more at night. If you try to start your homework at 10:00, you’re probably going to be tired, and, therefore, you’re more likely to procrastinate.
  5. Find a place to do your homework where you know you will be productive (like the library, a coffee shop, or the Academic Achievement Center). If you try to do homework with the TV on, it’s much easier to just watch your show and say that you’ll get to the homework later.
  6. Try to use the system of work first, relax afterwards. Use recreational time as a reward for getting your homework done (which actually makes it more enjoyable), rather than relaxing and then trying to scramble to get your work done on time.

I hope this helps. Remember to ask for help from your instructor, other students in the class, or the Academic Achievement Center, so you can do your homework with confidence and not get frustrated. Also, keep in mind that the more you stay on top of homework, the easier it is to make this a habit. Good luck!

Allison Pugh works in the Academic Achievement Center at DMACC and teaches Study Strategies and Developmental Reading. 

To contact Allison with a question or for additional information, email her at

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