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Staying focused during online teaching

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We have all experienced how exhausting staring at a screen all day can be, no matter how dynamic the tutor is. Ultimately, online lectures and seminars are different from going into University and physically being present. So, don’t worry if you are struggling to adapt, you’re not alone!

If you find yourself having trouble concentrating whilst conducting online learning, try using my top tips to refocus.

  • Silence your phone

One of the biggest and most time-consuming distractions is social media, so try and limit this disruption to study breaks. I like to put my phone on silent during study hours and utilise time limiting apps to ensure that I am not wasting my day endlessly scrolling on Instagram.

  • Establish an effective workspace

A good place to work should be away from all household distractions and encompass a desk where you can sit upright. I find that keeping the door shut when working helps to maintain a quiet space, away from curious pets or noisy housemates.

  • Keep your housemates informed

It is important to notify your household of when you need to be left alone to work. You could even synchronise study breaks so that you have some company during lunch.

  • Maintain a good attendance

Just because classes have moved online, it does not give you a free pass to not attend. Ensure that you turn up to each seminar, fully dressed and eager to learn!

  • Take notes

Writing down key information during lectures is a good habit to adopt in order to remain engaged. Often, if I sit with nothing to physically do for a prolonged period of time, I will switch off and my mind will wonder. Taking notes keeps your hands busy and ensures that you to retain some of the class’ content.

  • Engage in online sessions

It is extremely easy to sit back and remain silent during zoom discussions, especially if you do not have your camera on. I would strongly encourage everyone to use their microphones and cameras, it just makes everything seem a little more ‘normal’.

  • Break up your day

Breaking up your day is so important to ensure that you are not overloaded with work. Set timer notifications for regular breaks and for when it is time to hit the books again. This method will ensure that you are giving your brain some much needed rest but also preventing any unnecessarily prolonged lunches that eat into your working hours (pardon the pun).

  • Utilise study breaks

Breaks are only effective if you use them correctly. I often take advantage of my midday break by going for a run or walk outside, I find that fresh air and exercise is the perfect solution to a stiffened neck and foggy head. If going outside is a step too far, ensure that you actually leave your study space during a break and engage in a mentally passive task. Do not be tempted to eat at your desk or engage in email correspondence.

  • Stay hydrated and fuelled

Focusing can be difficult if you are thirsty or hungry. Consider bringing a glass of water to your study space and opt for healthy snacks and balanced meals to keep you fuller for longer.

  • Turn up rested

Getting enough sleep is imperative if you want to be productive. Try to maintain consistency and normalcy in your online learning schedule, including what time you wake up and go to sleep. I like to ensure that I get at least 8hours sleep every night and this means I am in bed at 9am. If my sleep is compromised, I certainly feel less motivated to work.

I hope that my tips can ease the online learning struggle that we all face and allow you to take back some control over your education. It important to not put too much pressure on yourself during this time and so do not worry about being the perfect student right now. This is a very new concept for all of us and adaptation takes time.  Focus your attention on trying to make the most out of this incredibly strange situation and getting through it as best as you can.

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