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Top 5 ways to increase focus during distance learning

Grace Hamilton
A distance learning workspace is set up with a laptop showcasing a to-do list and a work timer. While in the midst of distance learning, it is imperative to take steps to increase focus and productivity levels to maximize the learning experience.

Leave phone in a separate room 

Online school makes it too easy to simply pick up one’s phone during class without giving it a second thought. While scrolling through social media during class may be tempting, this habit inhibits the ability to learn productively, is harmful to memory retention and detracts from the overall online schooling experience. According to a recent study, working with a cellphone present in the room significantly limits cognitive ability and concentration levels. This study explores the idea that having a cellphone in the same room occupies “limited-capacity cognitive resources,” meaning that performance and concentration on other tasks are curbed. Hence, those who wish to maximize their productivity should leave their phone in another room while attending online classes. While it may seem like a small alteration in one’s online learning routine, it will have a remarkably positive impact on the entire online learning experience.

Use a timer for each class block 

Time management is a crucial skill to practice. It may be difficult to complete work within a designated amount of time during each Zoom session, and procrastinating assignments and switching to other activities is incredibly tempting. Using a timer to complete work during each class block is one of the best ways to maximize efficiency and productivity. This work method allows for periods of concentration, where time allocated to each task is restricted, ultimately motivating the user to complete as much quality work as possible in the given time increment. Moreover, using a timer promotes time consciousness and significantly aids in identifying time habits with work for specific classes, allowing one to allocate different amounts of time depending on the class. Click here for one example of a countdown timer to use while completing work.

Create a space designated for work 

Distance learning gives students flexibility to work anywhere. Doing so in bed may be appealing, especially after a long day of Zooms. Nevertheless, deciding on a specific place designated solely for work will undoubtedly improve productivity and boost motivation. Mimicking the in-person school environment is unrealistic, but choosing to work at a table or desk in a quiet area could drastically improve attention and productivity during online learning. In addition, having a designated workspace can distinguish between school and downtime, an essential during the DLP. Having all school materials in that workspace is also helpful in establishing a routine. 

Write a daily to-do list 

Creating a daily to-do list is one of the best ways to remain organized while simultaneously ensuring that various tasks are kept track of and completed on time. Having one cohesive list of tasks to work through in a given day can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious and increase productivity. According to an article from Toodledoo, writing a to-do list is the first action to completing work, as it reinforces the smaller tasks that need to be completed to achieve the greater goal. Thus, keeping track of each assignment or small task each day through a to-do list encourages responsibility and accountability to reach long-term goals. Programs such as Trello, Todoist and are all examples of to-do lists that can be utilized for task-tracking during online learning. 

Take breaks from technology throughout the day 

One of the most striking drawbacks of distance learning is back-to-back Zooms, and consequently, hours and hours spent looking at a screen. While much of this screen time is unavoidable, taking a break from devices between classes and after-school has numerous benefits. According to an article from UW Health, technological breaks are crucial to maintaining good health and sustaining energy. These breaks can reduce stress and increase mindfulness and focus. Taking breaks from technology throughout the day refreshes the mind and can make online learning, which relies heavily on screens, much more enjoyable. Take a walk outside or spend time with family instead of picking up the phone right after Zooms finish.

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About the Contributor
Grace Hamilton
Grace Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief
Grace Hamilton (’23) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Standard. Her love for writing stemmed into a passion for journalism, and she became involved with The Standard in Grade 9. Journalism provides her a powerful platform to inform the ASL community and learn more about local and global perspectives, issues and events. Outside of journalism, Hamilton leads the Sustainability Council, writes creatively and sails competitively.

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