a woman on her computer doing homework

How to Stay Focused While Studying for Online Classes

Arguably, the biggest challenge associated with taking an online class is staying disciplined. When you go to a conventional class in a classroom, you're already "stuck" there for the period, so you might as well pay attention, take notes, and get something out of it. For an online class, which can be taken at your own convenience, there may be a temptation to get distracted from the material being presented to you.

So, how can you stay focused while taking and studying for an online class? Here are some pointers:

Study Tips for Online Classes

Establish a dedicated study area

Don't double your kitchen or dining room table as a classroom. Instead, establish a quiet workspace where you won't be distracted by any commotion in your household. An established study environment is a big step in getting and staying focused for an online class.

Eliminate Distractions

Simply establishing a dedicated study space is a big step in avoiding distractions. Take the extra step to make sure TVs and other background noises are turned off, and that your classwork is the only item pulled up on your web browser. That's right, no social media or Netflix - just your online classwork. Procrastination is much easier when you have distractions, so removing background noise and distracting websites can go a long way.

Reward Yourself

Online classes can be a real chore, so break up your study session to ensure that you're not burning yourself out. For instance, you might study for 30 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Research shows that taking a 5-minute walk break during long study sessions has many.

Try The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and is a great study method. This technique uses a timer to break your study sessions into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. There are dozens of mobile apps that can make implementing this technique easy and the benefits are wide-ranging.

Form a study group

Take your online class to the library or coffee shop by forming a study group. Not only can a study group be a great way to interact with your peers, but it can also ensure that you're all keeping each other in check as far as work goes. A study group can hold each other accountable and a change of scenery, like at your favorite coffee shop, can help you keep going.

Take handwritten notes

Staring at a computer screen can take a toll on your eyes. Give yourself a break and keep a notebook and pen handy to jot notes down as your studying unfolds. Another benefit of writing by hand is that research shows it helps to increase memory retention and understanding.

Set Dedicated Study Time

The flexible nature of online classes is what makes them so attractive to many students, especially those with full-time jobs or children. Unfortunately, the lack of a set class schedule can make procrastination much easier for those lacking self-control. Setting dedicated study times can really help students maintain the structure they are likely used to having with a traditional class schedule. Analyze your schedule and block of study time during the same slots every week when possible. Over time your body will get used to studying at the same time, making it easier for you to avoid procrastination.

Don't Forget To Sleep

Did you know that the amount of sleep college students get is one of the strongest predictors of academic success? That's right, sleeping is often much more beneficial than cramming for a test. Sleep plays a vital role in reducing memory loss, so long study sessions that prevent adequate sleep almost always result in lower performance. Online classes, due to their flexibility, can easily cause students to sleep less. Make sure you are cognizant of the amount of sleep you are getting and try to schedule naps that can help make up the difference in any sleep you may not be getting during the night. Adults are recommended to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per day.

Online classes can be a challenge, which is why it's important to take the necessary measures to ensure you stay disciplined and motivated while taking them.

Find out what options you have for going back to school and pursuing your dreams.

Learn More