Ten tips for staying focused while studying at home

The first week of uni is over, and we’ve all now been introduced to the new blended method of teaching, which in large part happens online. While some students have no problem with doing their course from home, a lot of us are really struggling to stay motivated while trying to overcome the disruptions that online learning brings.

Here are some tips that have helped me get back on track when I’ve lost my focus and felt a bit overwhelmed.  

1. Tidy your room

Your room is now also your study space, and it’s said that a ’tidy room equals a tidy mind’. Keeping your environment nice and clean can help to decrease stress levels and clear your head. Make your bed, organise your desk, maybe light your favourite scented candle and make your study place feel cosy and neat. 

2. Use a daily planner

person holding pencil and stick note beside table
Using a planner is one of the best ways to stay organised Image credit: @martenbjork – Unsplash

This habit makes it so much easier to get organised and plan your time productively. Go on NOW and find all your assessment dates and write them down on your planner. This way, you can think ahead and decide when you should start working on your assessments, avoiding the case of late submissions.

In university, making sure that you submit your work on time is entirely up to you, and that’s why using tools that help you manage your responsibilities will make your life easier.

3. Set yourself a few small, realistic goals for each day

These goals can be as little as ’email my tutor about a question I had’ or ’watch that recommended video from the lecture’, but they’re steps towards your overall target, which is passing all your modules. Ticking those goals at the end of the day is so rewarding, even if they might seem small and trivial. 

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Your tutors and lecturers are there for a reason. If you’re unsure about something, struggling with your assignments or going through personal problems, don’t be ashamed to reach out and seek for advice or support. No question is too foolish, and it’s very likely that if you’re confused about something, other students could also use some more explanation. It’s always better to make sure you’re on the right track from the beginning rather than having to redo all your work later. 

5. Use an app that helps you focus

Best Productivity Apps for 2019 — Part 1: Pomodoro Focus Timers | by Kalie  Allebach | Medium
Download Flora to help you focus Image credit: Medium

Smartphones are a massive distraction when it comes to studying, and simply putting them away is easier said than done. However, many apps encourage you to be productive and keep your hands away from your phone.

For example, I’ve been using an app called Flora that allows you to plant trees and build your garden by staying focused for certain periods of time. Also, you can create to-do lists, challenge your friends to plant trees with you and see your weekly and monthly stats of focused hours. 

6. Get your tasks out of the way as soon as possible

I find that mornings are the time I’m most productive and energised, and I try to get my stuff done during that time. I’d rather get to work right away than postpone everything until the last minute and feel anxious the whole day because of it. It’s so satisfying completing all my tasks as soon as possible so I can unwind in the evening and just relax, knowing I’ve done everything I needed for the day.

7. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule

white dog sleeping on floor
Getting a good nights sleep is extremely important to stay focused Image credit: @brina_blum – Unsplash

While doing uni from home and being more responsible for your own time management, it is easy to get carried away and ruin your sleep cycle. Getting enough sleep is so important to prepare your mind and body for effective learning.

It is recommended for young adults to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night to function at their best. This may seem very unattainable for some, but you can start by shifting the time you go to bed just 30 minutes earlier every day. 

8. Stay socialising

Not being able to physically attend classes, not seeing your mates and maintaining social distancing can make you feel very isolated (even if you’re not actually self-isolating). Learning remotely is still something that we’re all adjusting to, and it can get very lonely at times.

Loneliness can have terrible effects on our motivation and will to learn. That’s why it’s essential to stay in touch with your friends and family and not shut down and become secluded. For example, facetime your family, have Zoom parties with your friends or if possible, get to know your flatmates. 

9. Go on walks to get as much fresh air as possible

woman back surrounded by green and brown grass
Get that sunlight in your system Image credit: @jamie452 – Unsplash

Staying cooped up in your room or house can be rough for your mental health and can even make you physically feel sick. Unless you’re self-isolating, try to get out of the house even for a short amount of time every day (while still maintaining social distancing). Have a walk, sit in your garden or just go on the door and have a few nice and long breaths. This will give you a chance to just slow down for a bit and clear your mind.

10. Keep a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings

A journal is the tool I use when I get overwhelmed and need to express my feelings and emotions. There is something about getting everything off my chest and on to a paper that helps me calm down and make sense of what I’m feeling and why. I feel like my emotional control has improved so much thanks to journaling, and during these stressful times, it’s a beneficial tool to help improve your mental health. 

Written by Kirke Viira

Feature image credit: @corrinekutz – Unsplash

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