Challenging times require speedy adaptation, and studying during a global crisis such as the one we are experiencing is no different. However, it is essential to remember that while adapting may seem uncomfortable, how we respond to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic will catalyze our growth and evolution. Since the coronavirus triggered the closure of schools worldwide, colleges have been forced to set up online classes that allow students to study from home.

Studying online from home comes with numerous advantages, including higher knowledge retention rates. According to a recent survey, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to traditional classrooms. The understanding here is that students tend to learn faster online as the platform is learner-directed.

That said, learning from home comes with numerous challenges. Many people find it hard to maintain the same level of focus during online learning as they would in a traditional classroom. Getting distracted is easy, and one needs a high level of motivation. This article summarizes how students can remain focused when learning from home to make the most available opportunities.

Create and Follow a Routine

Online learning comes with new opportunities to grow. However, it requires students to adjust their lifestyles. One of the reasons for the continued success of traditional classrooms has been its structured approach. There are often strict class schedules organized into blocks with demarcated breaks. To succeed in online learning and maintain uninterrupted focus, you have to emulate such a structure.

When studying from home, college students may not be tied down within strict schedules. They have the freedom to direct their timetable. However, with space comes numerous distractions and misguided priorities. Students have a chance to generate a structured program that allows them to achieve their goals with greater efficiency.

Having a predictable routine gives you the structure to get things done on time and offers a level of control. This is particularly ideal during these uncertain times of the pandemic. To create an effective schedule:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day;
  • Learn to plan your days and prioritize tasks to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines;
  • Account for breaks for relaxing and unwinding;
  • Schedule time for healthy meals to provide energy to keep studying;
  • Include time for physical activity;
  • Leave room for flexibility to cater to emergencies.

Work on Updating Your Technology

Studying online from home requires updated tech. It won’t help concentration during online studies if you cannot see or hear correctly or if your gadget keeps malfunctioning. When studying from home, updated tech allows students to access information and hasten their learning quickly. The right tech also will enable learners to find fun opportunities to practice the concepts they learn. With the right technology, students can enhance their understanding of complicated concepts.

As such, to maintain focus, make sure to upgrade your tech, whether it is your personal computer, headset, or internet connection. College students also need to familiarize themselves with professors’ online platforms for assignments, discussions, and quizzes. Getting familiar with such platforms means that you won’t spend instruction time figuring out how things work. 

When it comes to tech, there are many practical applications that students can use to manage time. Also, consider looking for note-taking apps as well as those intended to help with setting schedules. If you need help with your college applications, check out a sample personal statement for graduate school online.

Dress to Study

Physical preparation is just as necessary as mental preparation when it comes to successfully studying from home. According to research, the clothes students wear when learning at home affect their productivity.

Things have changed due to the pandemic, and dressing as one would when attending traditional classes helps instill a sense of normalcy. When studying, wearing pajamas or sweatpants can remove some seriousness from the tasks, leaving you more exposed to distractions.

If possible, prepare for the study sessions, dressing as you would if you attended regular classes. Preparing for the sessions helps students set clear boundaries between their roles as students and the home environment. You can always change from your study clothes to your pajamas when you have completed your study tasks.

Create a Dedicated and Organized Study Space


Where you study is just as important as how you study. If you find yourself going through your class materials on your bed in a messy room, know that you are far from reaching your potential. It would help if you considered revamping your space since studies show that the environment can determine how they learn and the amount of information they retain.

When studying online from home, you have considerable control over where to study. For this reason, you have to make sure that your study is set correctly to optimize productivity. Understandably, you may use your bedroom for your online studies.

Even so, it would help if you still made sure that there is a visible physical boundary between your studies and relaxation activities. Each time you are in your study space, make sure that your actions are related to your studies.

Even more importantly, you need to keep your study space clean and organized. This includes your computer screen, notebooks, and other essential material. Please note that some areas will inevitably be more appropriate for studies than others.

In a general sense, an ideal area for academic activities ought to be as quiet as possible. Of course, some students work better when there is some degree of background noise available. Consider these elements when picking the best place for your online studies from home:

  • Privacy — Choose an area that allows minimal traffic and where you are least likely to be interrupted;
  • Spaciousness — The room chosen for your online studies should be spacious enough to accommodate your study materials and a desk;
  • Lighting — Choose a study area with as much natural lighting as possible;
  • Comfort — You need a comfortable chair and desk since you will be spending hours in your study area;
  • Free from distractions — Your study space should not have televisions, games, or any other gadgets that could distract you from academics;

Take Notes When Studying

The first step towards improving your online study skills is learning to take better notes. Notes are essential as they help students remain awake focused. Writing important points down ensures that you pay attention, whether during instruction or when doing independent reading. Research shows that students can improve their content retention by listening or reading and then summarizing the information.

Also, taking good notes helps students to keep a record of their activities. You may have been present during an online class, but that does not mean you will recall everything taught. If you take good notes, you can refer to the material later during independent study. Note that students can sometimes get distracted during online classes.

You may find yourself focusing on your phone or someone else’s facial expressions. Note-taking ensures that your hands are busy and that you remain focused on the content being delivered. In other words, as you listen carefully and choose what to write in your notes, your mind will be actively engaged with what you hear.

Incorporate Exercise in Your Routine

One of the main challenges students have had to deal with due to the pandemic has been limited physical movement due to social distancing rules. Include exercise in your daily routine to improve your energy and mood.

According to research, human brains get tired after continuously performing one task for more than twenty minutes, making concentrating on online classes challenging. With proper exercise, your concentration and willpower will increase.

Don’t Forget to Get Enough Sleep

Sleep has a vital role to play in helping human bodies and minds rejuvenate and recover. When students get enough sleep, they benefit from improved learning. Adequate sleep also improves one’s ability to regulate functions like behavioral and emotional control.

Evidence suggests that sleep quality affects your capacity to learn new information and create memories. Restorative sleep also repairs neural connections and assists in social interactions and decision-making procedures.

In other words, the amount of sleep you get when studying from home is a significant predictor of your ultimate success. In general, adequate sleep should last about eight hours each night and should follow a pattern.

The Bottom Line: How to Maintain Focus

Staring at your computer screen the whole day during online lessons is not an easy task. Equally frustrating is working on academic assignments while surrounded by the familiarities and distractions of home life. There is always the temptation to watch a film or check for updates on social media. The tips highlighted in this article can help students who have trouble focusing when studying online from home.