When it’s time to do your schoolwork, do you suddenly come up with all kinds of reasons for why you’ll do it later?
If so, you’re not alone.
Every student wants to be successful in school.
And by that, I don’t just mean getting good grades.
Succeeding in school is also about enjoying the learning process, finding ways to contribute, and leading a balanced life.
In this article, I’ll explain the 30 common excuses that students make for not giving their best effort in school.
Excuses can become powerful ways of sabotaging your own success. So make sure that you’re not making any of these excuses!
1. When I get home from school, I just want to relax
It’s natural to feel tired when you get home from school.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. I encourage you to do things that are both relaxing and refreshing, e.g. going for a walk, listening to music, reflecting on the day, reading a book.
These activities will allow you to recharge, as compared to doing things that are “passive” in nature, e.g. watching videos or TV, going on social media.
If you do more of the first category of activities instead of the second to relax, you’ll find that you have more energy to get started on your homework.
2. Studying is boring
The writer Raymond Chandler once said: “There are no dull subjects, only dull minds.”
What he meant by this is that to a curious person, all subjects are interesting.
If you ask the right questions and develop the right mindset, any subject can become interesting.
Cultivate the desire to find out how things work, and you’ll find the learning process more interesting.
3. School isn’t relevant
Anything you want to achieve in life will require concentration, discipline and consistent effort.
These are habits that you can develop in school, even if in the future you don’t make use of every fact you learn in class.
4. I’ll be more focused next term/semester/year
Many students say this to themselves.
The trouble is, next term or next semester or next year, they’ll probably say the same thing again.
The present moment, here and now, is all we ever have. So make a positive change starting right now!
5. It’s too much work
Achieving anything meaningful in life will require plenty of effort.
It’s been proven that it typically takes many thousands of hours of deliberate practice to attain excellence in any field.
I’m not saying you need to spend many thousands of hours on your homework. But the point is, nothing is handed to us on a silver plate – we become competent and knowledgeable by putting in the necessary work.
6. I don’t like the subjects
It’s natural to have a preference for certain subjects. But don’t neglect the subjects you dislike.
Find a way to “make friends” with the subjects you dislike. One way to do this is to find an area where they overlap.
For example, let’s say that you like music but hate math.
Did you know that music is based on math? Octaves, chords, and scales are all based on mathematical concepts. Even if you don’t like math, you still need to use it every single day. And if you really struggle, here are my tips on how to get better at math.
Or let’s say that you like math but hate history. Try studying the history of math, all the way from Pythagoras up to the present.
In life, there will be many things that you dislike doing. But you’ll need to develop a sense of responsibility in doing those things regardless of how you feel.
7. I don’t like my teachers
You don’t need to like your teachers in order to learn from them.
Focus on mastering the material instead of on how much you dislike a particular teacher.
What’s more, it’s an unfortunate reality of life that there will always be people in your life whom you don’t like – bosses, classmates, colleagues and maybe even family members.
So look at school as a training ground for you to learn how to get along with people even if you dislike them.
This is an essential life skill!
8. I don’t know where to start
You can get stuck worrying too much about where you should start.
Most of the time, getting started is the hardest part of the learning process. So you must find a way to take the first small step.
Even if you feel like starting your schoolwork in the middle of the assignment instead of at the beginning, go ahead and do that.
9. I want to be a YouTuber/influencer/gamer/celebrity/professional athlete in the future, so school isn’t important
Anyone who becomes outstanding in any field does so through commitment and hard work.
Successful YouTubers, influencers, gamers, etc. all put in far more effort than you realise.
Make use of every opportunity in school to develop this kind of work ethic. It will serve you well for the rest of your life.
10. I’ll never get good grades
Students often label themselves as “not good academically” because they didn’t perform well in a certain exam. This creates a negative cycle that can go on for years.
But these negative beliefs will hold you back and will contribute to you getting bad grades.
When you begin to focus more on the learning process instead of what grades you want to get, ironically you’ll start to get better grades.
11. I just want to have fun
There will always be things you would rather do than schoolwork.
But it all comes down to the question of what you want now versus what you want most.
What you want now is to have fun, but what you want most is to make the most of your potential and gain knowledge that will enable you to contribute more.
If you want to build a meaningful life, then you’ll sometimes need to have less fun and do more purposeful things with your time instead.
This is a decision you won’t regret in the long run.
12. My parents push me too hard
All parents worry about their children’s future. After all, they want the best for their children.
So if you find your parents continually pushing you to do better, remember that it’s because they love you more than you understand.
At the same time, you can calmly share with them how you feel, so that you can reach a mutual understanding about things related to school.
13. My friends keep distracting me
If your friends are a distraction, form a study group that consists of hardworking students.
The friendships you choose to foster will either make you or break you, so choose wisely.
14. I’m afraid of standing out or being “uncool” if I get good grades
This fear is understandable. After all, when you do well at school you will draw attention to yourself.
That attention may not be welcome, especially if people start to call you a nerd or geek.
It’s safer to be average and to not stand out.
But is that how you want to live your life?
Think of the people you admire, whether they’re writers, entrepreneurs, actors or politicians.
Were they afraid to stand out? They may have been at the start. But would they be where they are today if they had given in to those fears?
Learning not to care about what others think is an essential skill that will help you in school and life.
15. My parents say I’ll never amount to anything
Your parents probably say that in anger, but they don’t mean it.
I know it’s hurtful to hear comments like that, but remember that history is full of high achievers who were told they didn’t have what it takes.
Albert Einstein’s schoolmaster once wrote in his school report: “He will never amount to anything.”
Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he had “no imagination”.
If authority figures have said discouraging things to you in the past, forgive them and move on.
Don’t let those hurtful words prevent you from making the most of your gifts and talents.
16. It’s too noisy at home, so I can’t concentrate
Your home might be noisy sometimes, especially if you have younger siblings.
But there’s always something you can do: use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones, or do your schoolwork somewhere else.
17. My friends don’t take school seriously
No matter how old we are, peer pressure plays a big part in shaping our behaviour.
But in the end, we are responsible for what we do with our lives, not what other people do with their lives.
Make an effort to surround yourself with people who will inspire you toward excellence!
18. Everyone at school thinks I’m dumb
Do your best to not be so concerned about what other people think of you.
A teacher once wrote about Roald Dahl, who went on to become a world-renowned writer, “This boy is an indolent and illiterate member of the class.”
A school report card for John Gurdon said that science would be “a waste of his time”. In 2012, Gurdon won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
The fact is that no one knows what you’re capable of, including yourself.
But if you work as hard as you can, learn as much as you can, and help others as often as you can, there’s no doubt that you’ll be successful. These are important rules for success in life!
19. I don’t understand the material
There’s nothing embarrassing about not understanding the material.
In fact, that’s why we go to school – to learn concepts we hadn’t learned before.
So don’t be ashamed to ask the teacher when you don’t understand something.
If you don’t understand it, chances are that there are other people in the class who don’t understand it either.
If you feel shy about asking questions in class, make time to talk to your teacher outside of class.
20. I don’t feel like participating in extra-curricular activities
Succeeding in school isn’t just about getting better grades on tests.
It’s also about contributing and about developing skills that you’ll need later in life, such as leadership, initiative and teamwork.
It’s through extra-curricular activities that you’ll have the opportunity to do this.
So get involved and contribute to your team, club or organisation. Others will benefit from this, and so will you.
21. I already understand the material, so I don’t need to study
Check if you really understand the material. It’s easy to assume that you understand something, but you may only understand it at a superficial level.
And if you find that you do understand the material, why not go even more in-depth and tackle even more challenging concepts?
Even if these concepts aren’t going to be tested, you’ll gain further knowledge – and knowledge is never wasted!
22. It’s my worst subject, so it doesn’t matter if I do badly
If it’s your worst subject, at some level you know you ought to spend more time studying it.
Every student has strong and weak subjects. By ensuring that you work on your weak subjects too, you’ll develop the mental strength to get things done, even if they cause you psychological discomfort.
In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable abilities to possess in life.
23. The classes are too long and boring
Classes can feel as if they go on for too long, especially if the teacher isn’t engaging.
If you can’t focus for the entire class, you can try focusing for shorter periods at a time.
For example, you can set a timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself that you’ll pay attention fully for those 20 minutes. Then give yourself a break of a couple of minutes before starting another 20-minute “focus” session.
Over time, you can increase the length of each focus session.
Of course, I don’t recommend that you tell your teacher that you’re using this approach.
But this is a better approach as compared to telling yourself that the class isn’t interesting and not paying attention at all.
24. I’m taking so many subjects, so I can’t stay on top of all of them
Yes, there are many subjects to learn, and it may seem overwhelming.
This means that you need a plan and a system for keeping up with your schoolwork, managing your projects, etc.
If you apply the tips listed in this article, I’m confident that you’ll be a more organised and effective student.
25. I’m afraid of trying hard but still not doing well
The fear of failure is universal. It’s something that every student needs to grapple with.
It may seem safer to not try at all, rather than to try and possibly fail.
But what’s much worse than failing is to look back and realise you didn’t even try. This is at the root of the regrets that countless people have.
What’s more, failure is just a story you create in your own mind. Instead of thinking in terms of failure, think in terms of experiments instead.
If you don’t perform up to expectations, then you know that the “experiment” didn’t work. So you’ll need to adopt a different approach or strategy in the future.
By changing your perspective on failure, you’ll discover that giving it your best shot is a meaningful part of the learning process, regardless of the grades you get.
But, of course, with a healthier perspective on failure, you’re bound to achieve better grades.
26. I’ll work hard only when I feel motivated
It’s great to feel motivated. But you can’t expect to feel motivated all – or even most – of the time.
Even the most productive and successful people in the world only feel motivated some of the time.
If you only get down to work when you feel motivated, then your study habits will be inconsistent.
Develop the necessary routines, systems and habits, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to get to work even if you don’t feel motivated.
As writer James Clear has noted, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
27. I’m always tired
Sleep is vital for a healthy mind and body. But most students don’t get enough sleep.
You need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night to be well-rested. If you’re constantly tired, get on a proper sleep schedule.
It’s not easy to change your sleep schedule at one go, so do it gradually. For example, you can go to bed just 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night.
28. I don’t have time to study
We all have the same amount of time: 24 hours each day.
But I’m sure you’ve noticed that some people achieve much more within the same amount of time.
This is because these people prioritise and focus. Prioritising means understanding what’s important and what’s not.
If you feel as if you don’t have time to study, it’s probably because your priorities aren’t clear.
When you get your priorities clear and act accordingly, I’m confident that you’ll find that you do have the time to be an excellent student.
29. I’ll just get my work done at the last minute
Doing your work at the last minute means you’ll be in a rush.
You won’t have time to check for mistakes, and you won’t be giving your full effort to the work.
What’s more, when you do work at the last minute, you’ll be stressed!
I’m sure you already have enough stress in your life, so get your work done ahead of time.
30. My teacher doesn’t explain the material properly
If you feel as if your teacher doesn’t explain the material properly, don’t use this as an excuse not to learn.
Instead, approach your teacher outside of class and clarify your doubts. Your teacher will likely be happy to go over the material with you.
If that isn’t effective, you can use online resources like Khan Academy to learn the material.
Did any of these 30 excuses sound familiar to you?
Are there any excuses on this list that you need to stop making today?
If so, choose to stop making them (as well as any other excuses related to not doing your homework), and instead take full responsibility for your education and your life.
Inspired by this book (which I read several years ago), I’ve made it my life goal to live with no complaints, no excuses, and no regrets.
It’s a journey that I hope you’ll join me on – it’s been challenging but meaningful so far.
There’s freedom in deciding that you won’t make excuses anymore, so all the best as you experience that freedom for yourself! 🙂
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