Every college student knows that staying alert during a lecture can be a challenge. Here are some valuable tips and tricks to staying focused in class.
by Mariana Flores
Student at Harvard Medical School
Tips and Tricks to Staying Focused in Class
- Sleep. Getting regular sleep (at least 7 hours) will help you to wake up rested and will recharge your energy so you are ready for the rest of the day.
- Caffeine. Having a cup of coffee or green tea in the morning can help you be alert for those early morning classes.
- A morning shower. Feeling the water before starting your routine will help activate your nerve terminals and make you wake up completely.
- Pay attention to the first alarm. If you start the day being productive and orderly, you will end it the same way. In addition, it will help you accustom your body to being in motion.
- Exercise. Whether in the morning or at night, doing a constant exercise routine will help you to secrete a series of hormones and neurotransmitters that will make you happier and more focused.
- Eat sugar. Try to consume a nutritious bar or a small piece of chocolate between classes. It’s exhausting to be distracted in middle class by the roars of your stomach so take a snack with you.
- Arrive early. If you start the class paying attention, you will not miss any details and you will not have to try to catch-up on what you missed and what the professor is writing on the board.
- Look for a good seat. Inside the classroom, sit away from loud or annoying classmates. Do not talk in class or use your cell phone. Wait to chat with classmates, joke or discuss after class is over.
- Take notes. If you are only listening, you will lose your rhythm easily, especially if the teacher is not such a good speaker. Of course, writing down only relevant ideas or keywords will keep you focused without overwhelming you with too many notes. Take quick notes and make simple diagrams. Once the class is over, you can order them better if you wish. Pay attention to what the professor is saying and writing on the board. Those details are the ones that they will then ask in the exam. Tip: Try LifeSpace Student Success App for Notes, Tasks and Bookmarks
- Breathe fresh air. If you’re dying of sleep and your class is too early or too boring, take two minutes to go outside and take a deep breath. It is better to miss a moment than sleep through the whole class. Stretch, take a quick walk, wet your face and you will come back ready to go.
- Organize your homework. Keeping up to date with your homework will help you avoid focusing on the previous class while you are in the next one. Try to accommodate your schedule so you have free time between classes to review tasks you missed or notes before the exam. That way you won’t feel pressured, thinking about other matters while you are in your class.
- Act as if you’ll be evaluated. If you act with the idea that after each class you will be evaluated of what you just learned, you will feel more obligated to pay attention. Another way of executing this strategy is to pretend you need to teach this class to your colleague who has missed class.
- Think like the professor. Putting yourself in the professor’s shoes for a few moments and think about what questions you might ask if you were the one creating the exam. This will keep you interested as you summarize the questions and focus on the answers.
- Ask questions. Asking questions throughout the class will keep your mind focused and thinking about the subject. Whether you ask them directly, or write them down for post-class discussion, questions help you brain stay alert and open to learning.
- Avoid technical distractions. If you are susceptible to social media notifications and FOMO, turn your devices to airplane mode or turn on DND during class. Additionally, using the LifeSpace desktop for Student Success helps you stay focused on class by keeping your laptop screen exclusively on your current class where you have all links, notes and tasks in one place.