How to Stay Focused in Online School

How to Stay Focused in Online School

How on earth can we be expected to stay focused on online school when it’s hard enough in person already? The only tip I’ve received from my teachers is to put my phone in another room, but I disagree completely because it is the only thing we have to stay connected with friends throughout the day which is incredibly important. 


But, I’ve come up with some things that have really helped me stay focused and I thought they might help you too. 


There are two tips about how to stay focused on online school that you should consider taking on board for the entire school day, and some for when you’re on a Zoom call, or for when you are doing ‘self-directed’ school work. 


1. Remove distractions 

If you think it would help you, definitely put your phone in another room. But if not, at least put it on silent and possibly set your ‘downtime’ on certain apps to be over the school day. 


Other distractions that would be beneficial to remove are: 

    • Activities that you would usually do in your spare time (eg. a book you’re reading, a knitting project you’re working on, or a puzzle that you’re doing :))
    • Streaming platform eg. Netflix, Youtube, or Stan. Set downtime/screen time limits on these apps on any device that you may be tempted to watch something on during class. 
  • I think saying to remove family members and pets is a little harsh, but that’s technically what you’re doing, right? Having a space away from siblings, parents, and pets (I know it’s hard!!) is a very good idea if it’s possible for your current arrangement.   


2.  Have a dedicated space for school work

I have found that doing online school in the same place every day has helped me train my brain to stay focused on school when I am in that spot. It’s the same sort of effect as suddenly getting tired when you lay in bed, or getting really hungry when you go into the kitchen for me. I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but I’m a creature of habit, so I need that sort of stability in my routine to get stuff done!! 


Stay focused on Zooms: 

1.  Take notes (even if you don’t need to) 

By taking notes, you are more likely to retain information even if you never look at the note again (not that I recommend that though. Check this out to take effective study notes that you can refer to closer to tests!) because you have to comprehend it more so that you can summarise it and write it down. Taking notes also helps when you’re having a bit of an ‘off-day’ so you can re-read them and teach yourself the content that you can’t remember from the lesson. 


2.  Keep zoom on speaker view and pin your teacher’s video 

Even if everyone’s camera is off, I always find it really distracting to see everyone else’s when I’m trying to focus. There is an option to ‘hide all non-video participants,’ but I still want to know that everyone’s still there!! To fix this issue I usually pin the teacher’s video on the ‘speaker view’ and then I’m not distracted. 


Obviously, this only works if the teacher isn’t sharing her screen, but you can still pin them in the corner. 

3.  Write in your book, not typing 

Writing notes in your book over typing them out may not help everyone focus, but it does help you remember the content better and increase your critical thinking (more about that here). But it can take a long time, causing you to be ‘unfocused’ on your teacher for an extended period of time. Do the pros outweigh the cons for you? 


4.  Keep your charger (and anything else you might need) on/near your desk 

Keeping everything you might need during a class near/on your desk removes those ‘background thoughts’ worrying that your laptop might die in the middle of the lesson, or you’ll randomly need a calculator in English and you won’t be ready. You’ll be able to focus on the teacher or the lesson knowing that you’re ready for anything! 


5.  Have a water bottle during the class 

Personally, I have found it very useful to have a water bottle on my desk during Zooms, because I tend to get bored and need something to do. So I’m ticking two boxes: staying focused and getting hydrated! 


Stay focused doing self-directed work

When doing self-directed work, listening to some music always helps too, so check out our post on the best study soundtrack to concentrate


1.  Write a todo list of the things you are meant to do 

By writing a to-do list, you can visualise what you need to do. It always helps me remember tasks and such when they are in my field of vision because then you don’t even have to remember to look at the list!! It’s way easier to focus on your work when your tasks are well organised! 


2.  Take a break partway through the work 

Remember to take a break! This can be to do a few laps around the house, get something to eat, or refill your water bottle. Taking a break will increase your focus because it lowers the chance of you just completely zoning out as you do your work (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!) 


3.  Write in your book

As tempting as typing can be, writing in your book will save you from getting distracted by how easy it is just to change tabs and watch youtube. It will take a little more effort to upload your work for teachers, but I believe it is the better option unless they specifically ask you to type it. Writing it out also prevents you from wasting all your time trying to format your document all aesthetic and stuff because there is no other option than your own handwriting and maybe a multi-coloured pen (you know, if you’re special enough) 


4. Schedule times to complete certain work throughout the period

It doesn’t have to be scheduled-scheduled, but just map out an order to complete things and rough out the amount of time it will take you to complete. This will help you to stay on task and not flip through different things the whole lesson. 


Pin this for later!!


Is there anything specific that helps you stay focused in online school?

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