Yeah, that is the holy grail.

Here are some ideas that might help you, but please add your own at the bottom! Of course, everyone is different so it is not possible to be definitive.

The basic principle is that, to reduce your workload, you have to focus clearly where your efforts give you maximum impact for what you want to achieve.

Define success clearly

First step is to define success clearly; in terms of key subjects, grades, etc. For some, this may be just getting through college with minimum hassle.  For other this is about getting to the Ivy League.  Secondly, focus on the subjects where you want to continue in future. Then de-prioritise the subjects which are not core for you. Stop aiming for a top-grade if a lower grade will do.

In general, the aim is to do well in core subjects English, Science and Math as well as the subjects where you believe you want to continue your studies. Everything else is secondary in importance.

Be completely clear on how you are graded.

Once you are clear on your focus, be completely clear on how you are graded. Be clear how much is on exams and how on assignments, project work etc.

Then align your efforts in relation to where you stand to gain the most. If that is exams, de-prioritise your homework assignments. If it is project work, then think how you can get the best grade for least effort in projects.

Be ready for Exams and Tests

In general, tests and exams should be seen as an opportunity, not as a problem.  Studying efficiently and effectively for tests, is one clear way to gain the maximum benefit for the least amount of work. See my article on Exams and Tests on how to approach them.

Organisation

Organisation is underrated.

Staying organised helps keep an overview on what needs to be done. Organisation reduces work. And it saves on worrying too. So get organised. Here are some thoughts on how to be organised

Ask for help in areas where you need it

Teachers and tutors can useful resources when you need them. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help! Be more careful with asking help from parents, unless they can genuinely help. They are not teaching or tutoring professionals.

Get online support on homework

There are plenty of websites that offer “help with homework”. Worth a try I guess, but intuitively there are issues. It costs money for one, you don’t actually learn much, and the work probably gets done badly. But generally it is always good to have options in time of pressure. I have not tried this, but if you have experience, please share it.

Use lesson time and downtime in school effectively

Lesson time can be used more effectively for making revision notes or doing homework wherever possible. Quiet time between lessons is also highly valuable time to get stuff done. So when you go home, you have done almost all your work already.

Mimic your teacher

A study I looked at the Internet showed that teachers will grade kids higher if they feel the kid has a similar personality profile to them. (Study) So the more you mimic your teacher, the higher your grades…. Not easy to do, but at least a good reason to stop frustrating the teacher?

Start homework immediately

The trick to minimise effort on homework is to start homework immediately after it is set. This is because the topic is still fresh in our mind so reduces need for re-reading notes. Also, it gives an immediate understanding of how much effort it will take. If you decide the homework is a lot of effort, stop doing the homework and spend some time thinking how you can reduce it.

Homework study-group

The trick here is to divide homework between a  group of friends, with no slackers, and share each other’s work. Not easy to organise, but if you have the right friend(s) it can be a big time saver for all concerned

Sleep and health

Forgive me if I sound like your mum, but sometimes she is right. There is plenty of research to show that a tired brain functions far less, and there is higher stress at the same time. So stay healthy!

While all this may have a feel of “fighting for peace” about it, nevertheless with a little focus, determination and organisation your workload at school can be reduced.