Staying Focused Academically during a Pandemic
Updated: Jul 12
According to one survey done by Education Week in November of 2020, “two-thirds of teachers said that the majority of their students were less prepared for grade-level work than they were at this time [in 2019]” (Schwartz, edweek.org).
The majority of people I know who are dealing with remote learning, whether it be from home or at an institution in person, have voiced their problems with it. Ranging from inability to focus, to not having an adequate workspace, to poor time management, the issues are not something that can be remedied by another Zoom call.
Wherever you are at this point in time while reading this piece, I want you to pause and take a deep breath. You deserve it.
As Oona wrote, this month is for reclamation– I have interpreted it as a time for taking back what is ours and finding ourselves again. Something I want to focus my energy on is reclaiming my drive for school. I love to learn, but this motivation to find new knowledge dissipated midway through my senior year of high school, that is, once the pandemic was at its first peak in the US.
I could have just made this article into a list of Buzzfeed-esque tips for how to regain focus and habits to help you in these ~unprecedented times~ as everyone likes to say. But I think having an honest discussion about the downsides of remote learning can be more productive. We all have thoughts and advice like ‘write a to-do list’ is not always effective for everyone. Some people find their procrastination to be unsolvable and overbearing, which is a valid emotion, so sometimes taking small steps to make the most of one’s free time can aid. An example of that is reading this article!
If there is advice that I can give, I think the most important tip is to stay hydrated and snack. The bare minimum of self-care is having a glass of water. It will replenish your energy and give you more motivation to embark on your tasks. I also enjoy snacking: from granola bars to flaming hot cheetos to goldfish, they are all wonderful!
Holding oneself accountable is the most difficult task to do when it comes to reclaiming your focus on academic work, but it is a worthwhile journey. Make time for breaks in between study sessions, make time for FaceTime calls to unwind safely, and most importantly, make time for decompression. Getting enough sleep is vital, but not always an option, so even a seven minute meditation or moment to rest can suffice.
We all get stuck in ruts where we feel uncertain and unmotivated, especially when it comes to school, jobs, relationships, or any other aspects of our lives right now. Remembering that this is normal and okay, and that you are not alone with your negative thoughts is a step forward. We are capable and we define our level of fulfillment. Let’s rejoice and reclaim ourselves without the pressure of building habits, but instead by creating lifestyles that bring us contentment.
Some people enjoy keeping track of things like habits, but it is not for everyone, and that is okay!
I hope you were able to find some sources of relief throughout this article, even if reading it was your break time from any other tasks!
Just remember: you deserve time to relax and you will get unstuck!