Tips for Focusing in Online School

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu from Unsplash.

Being in online school can make concentrating feel like a monumental task, as doing school from home can breed many distractions. Things like the temptation of laying in your bed, hanging out with your family, or simply saying “I’ll do it later” usually lead to many late assignments or cram sessions. Even simple daily changes can transform your school day to make it feel less daunting, here are some tips for improving your concentration at home.

Build a routine

Even if it is a loose routine, building a routine can help you compartmentalize and organize your day so you know what to expect. The beauty of a routine is that it’s yours, meaning that you can do what works for you and your life. It is important to know that too much sudden change can cause you to stray from your routine, so do what you feel comfortable with. Your routine doesn’t have to be the exact same each day. Maybe you do English and History schoolwork on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while you do Math and Science on Tuesday and Thursday. Note: This is just a sample routine; you can do whatever you want.

An example routine:

    8:00 a.m. — Wake up, get ready and eat

    9:30 a.m. — Start subject one (e.g. History)

    10:30 a.m. — Take a break

    11:00 a.m. — Continue subject one (if needed)

    12:00 p.m. — Lunch

    1:00 p.m. — Start subject two (e.g. English)

    2:30 p.m. — Break

    3:00 p.m. — Continue subject two (if needed)

    4:00 p.m. — Done!

Have a dedicated space for schoolwork

While most students do not have an extra room in their homes to use for school, you can designate a specific part of your desk for schoolwork. For example, only sit in a particular seat at the dinner table when you’re doing homework. Doing homework on your couch or bed is never a good idea because these breed an environment for relaxation. In these settings you may decide to lay down for just five minutes, only to wake up two hours later with nothing done. To improve concentration, I have found it beneficial to turn on a specific lamp when doing school, or play a specific genre of music. Little practices like these put our brains in homework mode; it’s the same reason you play a certain song while cleaning. If you hear it when you’re not, you feel like you should be cleaning. This is the psychological theory of conditioning.

Eliminate distractions

Clean at least your desk area of distractions like video games, makeup or books. One thing that also helps is turning your phone on do not disturb mode. Every time I’m about to do homework or write my articles, I put on noise-canceling headphones and play whatever I want. Noise on its own, even when I’m not trying to concentrate, can be extremely overwhelming. Thus, combining noise with homework has made me break down on multiple occasions. Noise-canceling headphones work especially well if you live or work in a small or shared space.

Reward yourself

If you struggle with motivation, a reward can be the push you need to complete even a fraction of your work. The reward doesn’t have to be huge, just something you want. For example, you could think, “If I write that paper, I’ll buy myself dinner,” or “If I go to that event I’m nervous about, I’ll buy myself a coffee on the way.” Personally, I struggle a lot with motivation to complete even small tasks, so I’ll tell myself the same things. For instance, I’ll tell myself that“When I finish this essay, I’ll buy that thing I’ve wanted for a long time.” Make your rewards something you like and that you know you’ll look forward to. You can even make the rewards bigger for more daunting tasks.

Take breaks; you deserve it

Taking a break when you still have more left to do can make you feel lazy or like you should’ve done more. Breaks are a vital component of a productive day. Productive days don’t consist of back-to-back work because you end those days feeling burnt out. A productive day is one where you take care of yourself in addition to doing your work. If you overwork yourself every day and never take breaks, you will burn out unbelievably fast. Even if all you got done was one quiz and you still have four left but you feel like you need a break, take it as your body knows what it needs. If you are worried about taking breaks that are too long, set a timer, even if the break is just five minutes. Give your brain and yourself a break if you need it.

Focusing during online school can feel impossible, but following these tips can help you focus a little bit more.