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Phoenix Forward

5 tips for focusing on schoolwork this summer

How to focus on schoolwork over the summer

It’s 85 degrees, there’s a barbecue sizzling next door and you hear the ice cream truck jingle. So how are you supposed to concentrate on your studies?

“You certainly don’t want to throw away your progress toward a degree, just because of a few nice days when you can go hit the swimming pool,” says Tracy Barton-Rouse, an instructor in the English program at the University of Phoenix Columbus Ohio Campus. Here are a few tips for creating a summer study plan to help you beat the heat and concentrate:

Admit that you’re distracted.

“In the summer, there are going to be more activities — like Fourth of July picnics and pool parties — that are going to pull you away from your books,” Barton-Rouse says. It’s easier if you first admit that you want to be doing something else. She calls this step “identifying the list of barriers preventing you from studying.”

Make your calendar.

Next, “create a calendar, and map out everything you want to do and everything you need to do this summer,” Barton-Rouse says. “And be sure to include the summer-fun activities in your calendar.”

For instance, if you have kids and you want to spend two hours with them at the zoo, put it down. “Being outside in the nice weather is great for your mood and your peace of mind, and that’s really important. You don’t want to be inside every day staring out the window.”

Learn to say no to some events.

Given the fact that your schedule is going to be really full, you’ll need to prioritize. “Chances are, some things are going to have to go,” Barton-Rouse says. “Your school is important, and going to your kid’s ball games is important, too. Maybe you have to ask, ‘Do I need to be at every single game?’ You’re still going to be a good parent if you go to 75 percent of the games.”

Assess what’s working for you.

As the summer starts, assess what’s working for your schedule and what isn’t. “If the kids are home from school and you’re trying to study at home, and that’s not working, you might have to get yourself out of that environment,” says Barton-Rouse, who has also taught at Bowling Green State University. “Or maybe you’re someone who can squeeze a little more summer into your life by bringing your laptop to the backyard and studying there.”

Reward yourself and your family.

“If you’re struggling with the kids’ wanting to go to the pool, but you’ve got reading to do, try telling them, ‘If you give Mom one hour to read, then we’ll go swimming,’ or, ‘If you let Mom finish her paper, when the ice cream man goes by, I’ll get you a treat.’” That behavior also sets a great precedent for the kids, because they see Mom working hard to reach a goal.