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How to stay focused & productive!

We’ve really been through almost couple year of online school, i’m probably going to graduate from college over zoom! I’ve just resigned myself to this terrible lifestyle but there are a couple of ways to make it better, hehe! Today i’m going to be sharing with you a couple of hacks just like tips in general about how to stay focused and pay attention and not be distracted and unproductive!
I promise these are going to be unique and genuinely helpful hacks and not just the basic like find a quiet place to study so enough of me complaining let’s just jump right in!!!

  1. Activity Remember: My first tip and the one i’ve generally found the most helpful for me is to have a designated mindless fidgeting activity remember. Back in when fidget spinners were a thing yeah i used to think those were annoying as hell because every single middle school boy was just with them and making them a huge distraction instead of actually using them as the helpful focus tool that they were designed for for people with other attention disorders anyways just finding something like that a mindless activity that allows you to get energy out in a physical form while you’re trying to focus your mental energy can be really helpful i find that i only go on my phone because i want something to do with my hands but the phone is not a great distraction to go for because it inevitably ends up distracting your brain as well instead i’ve been replacing that with crocheting my mindless activity of choice during in person classes i actually used to make friendship bracelets in class you might not want to do crafts in the middle of your class though so maybe you could have a fidget spinner a fidget cube or maybe like a jar of play-doh or a stress ball this was a thing in elementary school where you could make a little squishy ball out of all of your eraser shavings and i found that really relaxing and relieving to squish in class regardless of which activity you pick I recommend finding some way to expend that distracted searching around for something to do energy without actually allowing your mind to drift away from your classwork.
  2. Attend lectures carefully: Tip two even if you have recorded lectures i would still generally recommend you attend the synchronous lectures. Yes! i know that sounds annoying as hell and if you live in a different time zone from the time zone that your professors are broadcasting from and you have to wake up at 3am to attend lecture just like maybe don’t but for the rest of us just like go when you can i find that when i’m watching a recording i’m far more likely to get sidetracked because in the back of my mind i’m just thinking, oh it’s okay if i just stop right now go do that other thing take care of this, other distraction because i can always just come back and rewind to the point that i didn’t pay attention to spoiler alert you are not going to do that but even if you do you’re still wasting your time because you have to watch for an extra amount of time on top of the amount you already watched the first time so maybe just go to the zoom call especially because it allows you to do two other things that will help you stay focused one of which is to turn your camera on! Yes i know, it’s super awkward and especially a problem if your wi-fi speed just sucks it makes zoom crash and everything so like take this tip with a grain of salt a little bit of spice that gif of that guy doing the salt things. First of all your teacher or professor will probably be kind of grateful that they have like real people to lecture to instead of just speaking into the void like i’m doing right now and it introduces that sense of social pressure and social accountability that usually will make you actually pay attention in a real live class like when i think about why don’t i just go on my phone and do nothing in the middle of a lecture hall sure i want to say it’s because i’m a good student and i wouldn’t get distracted i pay attention to the intellectual things but like it’s realistically because everyone in the row behind me can see it if i’m going on youtube and similarly having your camera on even though you can kind of sort of hide when you’re going on a different tab it still makes it feel like everyone can see what you’re doing. I honestly feel like most of the things we do in person that we just can’t seem to do online are motivated by this sense of social pressure so manufacture your own artificial social pressure another thing i recommend you do is actually participating in class whether that be asking questions typing things in the chat answering the poll questions or just like smiling and nodding along when your teacher asks thetorical questions or makes a dumb joke because one your teacher will like you a little bit more and maybe they’ll be a little bit more lenient in grading you and it also feels like your teacher and your fellow students know you’re there and start to kind of expect you to be there turning your camera off and not giving any indication that you’ve ever been there at all can kind of feel a lot easier than subjecting yourself to like participating but it starts to make the learning experience which should be pretty interactive feel like one of those massive online open courses like courser which have significantly lower completion rates than like an actual university course for a reason because there isn’t that social pressure to show up and pay attention but on the opposite end of all these tips you might also consider not going to class and just watching the recordings on a slightly different speed this tip might be really helpful for you if one your professor just is the real slim shady and is speaking at a thousand miles per hour or conversely it can be super helpful if you’re a professor okay i don’t want to be like ageist but it’s definitely old professors who do this who talk at this pace and it’s just not possible to pay attention when they’re talking that slowly that’s why i find podcasts so much easier to listen to and pay attention to when they’re on 1.25 times speed or sometimes 1.5 times speed maybe you have my video on two times speed right now although i’d be very impressed if you could listen along and still understand everything at two times speed so doing the same thing to your lectures can just make it that much easier to follow along.
  3. Try to study in new place: This next tip is one of those more basic, try to study in a new place that you only associate with studying in school work if you can a lot of the reason we’re much better at focusing in a classroom or a library or a cafĂ© is because we’ve psychologically conditioned ourselves to associate these locations with being on focus and productivity mode whereas almost all of us have spent our entire lives conditioning ourselves to view our bedrooms or kitchens as places of relaxation and fun not necessarily being in a focus mindset picking a new spot whether that be just another desk in another room or maybe going outside to a park and then training yourself to view that as a new focused space can be pretty helpful.
  4. Taking short walks: Another related tip is to take a little short walk before each class one it kind of simulates that experience of like walking to class and just playing those sort of mind games with myself kind of helps convince me that i’m not just sitting in my room all day and that i’m actually going to class especially if you don’t have enough space to do the previous tip of making a new spot exclusively for studying it can be a kind of smaller trick to recontextualize yourself!
  5. Study outdoors if you can: And my last context related tip is to study outdoors if you can although maybe this tip is very much like me living in social and thinking that everyone can go outside at this time of year. Let me know in the comments if you would either burn to death or freeze to death if you went outside. Right now it is a friendly way to be somewhere besides your house and being in a semi-public space like a park or a cafĂ© which is where kind of increases that social pressure like as if you were studying at a library or cafĂ© even though there’s not the same level of pressure as there is in a lecture hall or classroom where like people know that you’re supposed to be learning it still kind of feels like oh if i’m just sitting on my phone while i have an essay open on my laptop the people walking by are going to be like what the heck is she doing why isn’t she doing her schoolwork or maybe that’s just my social anxiety talking but like it kind of makes me pay attention to class more so ask not what you can do for anxiety but what anxiety can do for you!
  6. Watch lectures in Full screen mode: Something else you can do for both zoom classes and recorded video lectures is to go in full screen mode i know this seems a little bit like stupid and like huh but having it on full screen mode means it takes you an extra click to go on another tab and just increasing the amount of effort it takes you to get distracted is helpful these tiny tiny barriers just take advantage of your laziness whenever possible and we are all biologically built to be lazy and expend as little energy as possible so take advantage of that when you can another way to take advantage of your laziness is to put anything that’s distracting very very far away from you as far as you can possibly get it for instance just throw your phone across the room okay maybe don’t do that because replacing your phone screen is ungodly expensive but you know just like put your phone or your other distracting objects like on the other side of the room once i’m sitting down at my desk and watching my lecture do i really want to get up to go get my phone is it worth it? No! Who wants to get up?
  7. Take paper notes: Another thing i recommend is to take paper notes instead of typing on your laptop or you could use an ipad but the gist is to have a separation between the device you use to look at the lecture and what you’re writing on to take notes that way it removes the need for you to minimize or exit your lecture and go on another tab to write things down and therefore decreases the level of temptation you might feel to just open another little background tab and like go on pinterest and last but not least another kind of basic tip but something that is very very useful is to find an app or chrome extension that will block your access to distracting apps and websites for example i use flora which is free on my phone and i use the forest chrome extension this way you only have to use a very brief instant of willpower to just start the timer and then after that you don’t have to exercise any of your limited willpower juice because it just eliminates the option so those are all of my tips for today! If you have any other hacks that you’ve discovered please leave those in the comments i’m sure many of us could benefit from those and you can check out my instagram for motivational & inspirational content, I post daily ! yay!
    Anyways see you next time!!!!

Love, Sonal❀