Do you often join your online classes, try to tune in, but when the class is done you realized that you basically got no information at all because you could not stay focused for more than a few minutes? After that, you committed to trying to focus next time, but then it just keeps happening over and over again?
Online classes have started, and for the first few weeks, things seemed pretty alright. But it didn’t take long for me to start losing focus, even if it’s just listening to my pre-recorded lectures. Eventually, I find myself not even listening to anything. I would spend 6 hours listening to a 30-minute lecture simply because I couldn’t focus, and I would lose precious time that I could’ve used to do my assignments. More and more assignments and lectures piled up until it became too much to bear. I did manage to pull through in the end.
Here are some things that I’d adopted that can hopefully help you focus better.
This is something a lot of people might overlook.
When you’re not in a comfortable place at all, for example, a loud place, it can take your focus away. Try to find the most comfortable place to be in, maybe it’s the table in your room, maybe it’s the dining room. Along with that, try to avoid lying down on your bed! When you’re lying down, you tend to be less focused and would probably end up falling asleep instead.
2. Put your phone down
If you’re having your online classes on your phone, of course, this is impossible, but if you are doing it on your laptop, put your phone down. And try not to use them at all during class, unless you need to reply to an urgent message.
There are apps available to help you spend less time on your phone. One such app is Focus Plant, where you collect water to buy and grow your plants by not using your phone. If you are away from the app for more than 20 seconds, then the session will be considered a fail. Another app that has been recommended is Study Bunny, with the same concept, though spending time away gives you money to buy things for your bunny instead.
Limiting app usage can also help. On iOS, simply go to Setting > Screen Time > App Limits, and then set a limit for whichever app you want. For example, limit your usage of Twitter and Instagram to a combined 3 hours per day.
3. Read through your notes first (and write things down)
During the class, try to note down things the lecturers mentioned but are not in the slides. Writing down notes of a concept in your own words can also help you to understand it. This helps you to prepare to excel in an exam or assessment. Also, reading through the notes and prepared slides before a class helps improve your focus during a class as you would be able to understand what the lecturer is explaining.
4. Set a timer
A famous technique used by many people (including myself) is the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Basically, you break the time needed to work on something into intervals. Originally, you work for 25 minutes, and then take a break for 5 minutes for 4 sessions before you take a longer break of about 15-30 minutes. However, you can set however long you want to work, as you know your limits best.
It can be quite a hassle to count how many sessions you’ve gone through, but nowadays, there are a lot of apps to help you keep track, such as Be Focused – Focus Timer, Focus Keeper, Flat Tomato, and many others. Pick the one that you are most comfortable with using!
5. Watch other people study
Research has shown that many people watch study broadcast/ study with me videos (or gongbang, in Korean) to help motivate themselves. There are tons of videos to choose from on Youtube, such as this one of a girl studying. As someone who prefers studying in the library, with many people also studying, this has become an alternative to help me focus as I went through online classes.
6. Get enough rest (and stay hydrated)
Make sure you get enough rest and time away from your screen. It is tiring to look at your screen all day long after all. Schedule time away from your laptop or phone to simply just talk with your family or to take a nap. Don’t force yourself! Your lectures will be there for you to listen to, after all. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!
Your grades are important, but so is your mental health! Talk to someone if you need to, and don’t beat yourself up too much.
I hope these tips are helpful to all of you and you can learn to focus better in your online classes! Stay safe and good luck with your studies!