Having trouble focusing at home? Getting distracted by your phone sitting right next to you? This is a common problem for most teenagers, especially when left alone in a bedroom to “study.” 

Many of us are struggling; and AISB Counselor Sommer Blohm says this is normal. “There are hundreds of reasons why a student could be struggling… there are so many uncertainties… we have [very quickly] shifted the way we live.”

But there are things we can do to make this period of distance learning a bit easier. Here are our top tips:

Create a Routine

Having a routine to follow can help by making it seem like you are actually going to school. Things like waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, getting dressed (or at least changing out of your pajamas), having breakfast before 9am, brushing your teeth, etc. will improve productivity and help you prioritize. Having a similar routine every day can also help block out distractions and drive you forward, meaning that it will motivate you to do more.

Establishing a morning routine in particular is extremely important, according to productivity expert and author of Design Your Day, Claire Diaz Ortiz. In her book, Ortiz explains that how you start your day “anchors you and ensures you stay focused on what is most important.”

Stay Organized

Knowing when assignments are due and being able to finish them on time are important, especially when there isn’t a teacher constantly reminding you. Writing down what work you have to do is one way to stay on top of things. Another way is to download an app to help you.

Google Calendar – An app and a Google Chrome extension, this is probably the best way to stay organized–especially as an AISB student (it’s mandatory for DP students to use). Each Sunday, plan out your week, and even add Zoom links.

myHomework – A student planner app available for iPhones and Androids, it’s consistently ranked one of the best organizational tools for students and teachers. You can add your class schedule, to-do lists, and set reminders.

Google Keep – If all you need is a digital to-do list, Google Keep is your best bet. You can create multiple lists, add notes, photos and share with classmates or family members. Available on Google Play and in the App Store.

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Establish a Consistent Work Space

Just make sure not working from bed! Image source: Pixabay.

Being able to concentrate begins with the study environment around you. Having a quiet, comfortable space that has no distractions is ideal, but of course, not everyone has that luxury.

If your bedroom is the only place you’re able to set up home learning during this time, just make sure you’re not working from your bed. Studies have shown that it not only decreases productivity, but it can also disrupt your sleeping patterns.

If your bed is the only furniture in your bedroom and you’re unable to set up a desk, consider working in a common area. While it’s not ideal, you need to make sure you have a designated work space, where you can properly organize work and papers. Just make sure your family members know your schedule to avoid interruptions, and use headphones!

Maintain Communication

Emailing or Zooming with your teachers is also important to make sure assignments are clear. If you have questions about the work given, let your teacher know so they can help you. AISB Vice Principal Fiona Moss says that some teachers are creating appointment slots for students to sign up for; otherwise we should ” just email the teacher with an approximate time you need and what the purpose of the meeting is.”

“If you feel there is too much work, please do let your advisor know and feel free to have that conversation with the specific teacher.”

– Vice Principal Fiona Moss

Take Breaks

It is difficult to focus for an extended period of time, and taking breaks can improve focus and productivity. Now with online learning, short spurts of work and then a break is more necessary than ever. Take your dog for a short walk, listen to some music, play a game with a sibling, or chat with friends to relieve that stress from working. The Pomodoro technique is used globally, and is recommended by the AISB Counselors Care program. Basically, study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, repeating this four times.

“To focus better, try not to multitask and give yourself breaks.”

– Sommer Blohm

Fuel Your Body!

Eating enough nutritious food is an important aspect to being able to perform academically. It is very difficult to focus when your stomach is growling throughout class. Since you’re at home, prepare some nutritious snacks to have on hand before or even during classes Here are some healthy snacks you could try: 

Almonds – A quick but nutritious snack that will satisfy your hunger. If you aren’t a fan of almonds, you can also try cashews, peanuts, or pistachios.

Dark chocolate – Who can resist chocolate? Especially when it has lots of antioxidants and natural stimulants that improve blood flow to the brain, improving your studying. While it is a healthy snack, make sure to eat in it moderation. 

Fruits and veggies – Like dark chocolate, fruits and veggies contain antioxidants which can delay or prevent aging in certain parts of the brain. Mix with some hummus or peanut butter to add some extra nutrients. 

3-ingredient cookies – Make the world’s easiest cookies by smashing two ripe bananas with a fork (in a bowl), then mixing in 1 3/4 cup oats, and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate). Roll the mixture into balls (should make 12-18, depending on the size), then put it in the oven (pre-heated, 175°C) for about 15 minutes (or until golden on top).

Other healthy snacks include Greek yogurt, air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas, or eggs (you can hard boil them in advance and keep them in your fridge).

Tell us: What are your best tips for working/studying at home? Comment below to start a conversation.