Kara Anaya, Grade 10, Staff Writer
The adjustment to a virtual setting has challenged students and created barriers to their learning. Last year, the presence of teachers and peers motivated students to stay focused. This year, sitting alone in front of a computer for hours makes it hard to stay concentrated.
Finding useful strategies for productivity can be challenging, so the following are tips that can help all students stay focused at home.
Organize a To-Do List
Your workload can be overwhelming, especially when you are disorganized. Writing down all of your assignments in a bullet-point list will help you visualize your tasks and strategize in what order it would be most efficient to complete them. It would be extra beneficial to purchase a dry erase board or an erasable calendar to list each assignment and its due dates.
To go a step further, estimate how long it will take to complete each assignment and use a timer to limit how much time can be spent on the assignment. If more time is needed, put your work aside and finish it later on. Staying stuck on one assignment for an excessive amount of time will prevent the entire to-do list from getting completed promptly.
Change Your Scenery
Everyone works differently, and sometimes your environment prevents you from focusing. It gets tiring to be stuck in a bedroom all day, and, even though seating areas in cafes and libraries may not be open, you can go onto your porch or living room. That small change can make a huge difference! Sitting at a desk for long periods can hurt a person’s back or legs and make work more grueling. If moving to another room is not an option, then sitting in a different part of your room can be helpful.
Organize Your Work Area
Once you choose a work area, you should figure out how to make your workspace as efficient as possible. Students should take out what is needed for the task being done at the moment and put everything else neatly to the side. A messy workspace can be distracting. Buy baskets, dividers, or folders from a local container store or discount store. A strategy for organizing a workspace on a budget is to use items intended for other purposes, such as a make-up tray or bathroom organizer, to store writing materials. An organized workspace can be the difference between focusing on the task at hand and getting distracted by everything that is out of place.
Watching the television, playing a video, or having your phone nearby can pose as big distractions. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, put it in another room, give it to a trusted person temporarily, turn off your phone, or set a screen time limit on social media, gaming, and other apps.
Give Yourself Incentives
Lack of motivation can be a huge factor for procrastination, as it feels meaningless to do monotonous tasks if there is nothing to look forward to. Plan a day for baking, skateboarding, picnics, or watching a movie once your work is finished!
Get a Work Buddy
If working alone is not productive and you need to be held accountable, find another person to work with. Both of you can keep each other productive by calling each other out for procrastinating. You can work with someone over Zoom or FaceTime to abide by social distancing guidelines.
Listen to Music
Listening to music can be an effective method for focusing. The best music for studying is instrumental music or ambient noise. Music with vocals or the instrumental versions of songs can become distracting. For people who focus best in cafes, searching for ambient cafe music can be worthwhile. There is also forest, cottage, jungle, village, seaport, and countless other types of ambient noise that can help a person feel as though they are in another location. Headphones or earbuds can maximize the experience. If white noise or ambient noise is not useful, then perhaps listening to classical, LoFi, jazz, piano, dark academia, or “royal core” music can help.
Give Yourself Breaks
It is vital to take breaks while doing work. Similar to creative incentives, you can allow yourself a ten-minute break for every hour you spend doing work without procrastinating. This time should be spent away from an electronic because staring at a screen for long periods is bad for your eyes and health. In this time, you can do a short yoga or meditation routine, read the next chapter of a leisure book, walk around the house, have a short conversation, draw, write, or just relax and do nothing for a few minutes.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Snacks
It is important to stay hydrated and eat snacks. Doing work requires energy and it is unhealthy to work without consuming anything. The snacks should be healthy, such as fruit, a granola bar, or yogurt. Eating helps people stay awake and be more alert, which will help them do their tasks more efficiently. Drinking water also helps keep people awake so it is important to stay hydrated. Investing in a reusable water bottle is beneficial, even for virtual learning, because you will not have to continuously get up to drink water.