5 tips for avoiding distractions and staying focused while in your college lectures
by Rebekah Baughman, Emporia State University
The life of a student is one that is busy, on-the go, and requires balance. From personal to professional obligations, students can find themselves tied between so many things all at one time. Jobs, family, friends, and personal responsibilities can cause students to have a really hard time focusing in classes.
We all have things that pop into our minds during lecture that cause us to wander into an hours of thoughts and then wonder what the professor was even talking about. I consider myself a pro at daydreaming in class, so I have compiled a list of habits that I have collected during my 3 years in college that have helped me to toss the random thoughts and give my full attention to learning the topic at hand.
Tip #1 – Take Notes
The first one may be obvious, but take notes! You have to be paying attention to the professor and what they are saying in order to take notes. So this is my #1 recommendation when it comes to staying focused in classes.
It has also been proven that the more senses you engage in learning, the better you learn. So writing what you are learning in addition to hearing it and seeing it will help you to retain that information better.
Tip #2 – Quickly Jot Down Distracting Thoughts and To-dos
Write down thoughts that pop up or things you need to do on a separate space in your notebook so that you can address those things later and get them out of your mind now. I struggle a lot with thinking about other things while I should be focusing in classes.
Assignments for other classes, forgetting to text a friend back, and what you are going to eat for dinner are all distractions from what you should be engaged in learning during class. So make sure to make a list of these things so that you can focus on them during a time when you are not in class. This way you are not worrying about forgetting about them and you can dedicate your mind to the topic that the professor is actually talking about.
Tip #3 – Sit Close to the Front of the Room
When you sit closer to the professor not only are you going to be able to see and hear everything better, but you are also more likely to pay more attention than if you sit in the back. You may also get called on to answer a question (scary, I know), but it will all help you to challenge yourself to understand the topic even more.
Tip #4 – Avoid the Talkers
Do not sit by people who talk. If it is possible, try to pinpoint those who talk a lot in class and try to avoid sitting next to them. It is a lot harder to focus when others around you are having conversations of their own. Sitting in the front of the classroom usually helps with this as well.
Tip #5 – Ask questions
Make sure to raise your hand and ask questions about things you are not understanding. Usually professors welcome questions during lecture, but if yours does not than make a questions section in your notes so that you can ask at the end of class. Not only will this help you stay focused and understand the material, but it will show your professor that you are truly there to learn and are working hard to do so.
Bonus Tip – Avoid Technical Distractions
We all know how distracting texting and social media can be. During class it’s very tempting to quickly respond to a message or do a quick scroll of your Facebook or Instagram notifications. Switching your phone to DND or Airplane Mode during class is an ideal way to resist the urge. Also, use LifeSpace Organizational Platform on your laptop, which helps you focus on your class by creating a class space with all the bookmarks, tasks and notes in one place.
You can do this!