How to stay productive and focused in your online classes

Studying in Online English classes, even when they are taught live in real time, can be challenging! As you adjust and get used to taking classes online, you may find yourself actually enjoying the convenience of the “virtual classroom,” where you can learn and participate without having to leave your home..(or even your bedroom!) While this comfort can be especially indulgent on those mornings when you just don’t want to get out of bed, (We get it! Not having to deal with the NYC subway or get dressed in the morning can be a blessing) studying and taking classes at home can also be a little TOO relaxing, and ultimately prevent you from being in the best mindset to focus and get the most out of your online English lesson.

So if you find yourself struggling to stay productive and focused during your classes, here are some tips that you can start applying right away:

  • Keep your morning routine. If you regularly wake up at 8:00AM for your classes, continue doing that. Make sure to shower, get dressed (in real clothes), comb your hair, brush your teeth.  If you are someone who puts make-up on in the morning, then continue to put on make-up. This will keep you feeling fresh and energized throughout the day.
  • Create quiet space. If you have roommates (friends or family) that are also at home, it can get loud if others are taking classes, participating in meetings, or even connecting with loved ones. This might be the time to invest in noise canceling headphones. 
  • Put away your cell phone. If you are using a computer for your classes, remove your phone from sight. (Just as you would in the classroom). Try to eliminate all distractions so that you can allow yourself to truly focus and pay attention in the classroom. 
  • If you are using a phone, put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode and turn off all your notifications so you’re not tempted to exit your class. Again, plan ahead to eliminate all distractions. 
  • Don’t study in bed. It’s important to separate a study space from a place of relaxation and sleep. Studying in bed will keep you feeling tired and sluggish. Even if you only have a bedroom, you can find a different corner of the room to work. People all over the Internet have gotten creative in making a workspace or study space during this time. Having a place to study can help your brain “turn on” and “turn off” your study mode, helping you be your most productive self. 
  • Give your eyes a break from the screen by trying the 20–20–20 rule where you take a 20 second break from looking at your screen every 20 minutes — during this break you should focus on an object that is 20 feet away to relax your eyes muscles. (You can still pay attention in the class during this 20 second break)
  • Use your break time wisely! Just as you would at school, you can make a coffee or take a quick walk in the 20-30 minute break between classes. You can even call some of your fellow classmates and friends to chat and catch up, just as you would in the school lounge area. 
  • Try to change your environment when you’re eating lunch to break up the day. If you can, eat in a different room from the one where you work or study.
  • Once you are done studying, put your computer away so it is out of sight. You can even go for a short walk to simulate your ‘commute home’ and clear your mind so it’s ready to relax, and enjoy other activities at home.

We also asked some Manhattan Language students for some of their tips on how they stay productive and focused at home. Here’s what they said:

“If you have one, use a computer! Also, use headphones in the classroom for the best sound quality.”  – Mathias (Ecuador) 

“I like to write things down instead of typing, so I keep a notebook and pen ready for the class. You should also always do your homework!” – Frank (China)

“I always have a cup with hot tea around, and try to talk as much as possible. When you talk, you have to concentrate all the time. – Javiera (Chile)

“I keep the same schedule as before. I wake up at 7AM. I put on clothes, and not pajamas. I even put make-up on my face as if I were going out. This makes a big difference!” – Tessa (Korea)

“Sometime in the middle of class, I stand up and stretch a little. I try not to keep sitting the whole time. It sounds silly, but it’s necessary for me. – Daiki (Japan)

“Invite a friend to join your class! Coming to class each day can be even more motivating when you get to study with your friends. – Loren (Taiwan)

We hope these tips can be useful in your online classes! What has been working for you? How do you stay focused and productive in your online class? Share your comments with us!

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