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5 ways to keep your focus during online classes

We expected this semester to be a challenging one, especially after Michigan Tech’s abrupt switch to online classes last spring. With most classes being online, or half online and half in-person, the beginning of the semester has been confusing for many. While online classes are convenient, they have lots of potential for distraction. Personally, I’m never less focused than when I’m sitting in front of my laptop on Zoom. Do I need to make my bed? Perfect time for that, because I can walk around my room with my headphones on, still listening to my lecture! Or, even worse … I can scroll through Tik Tok on my cell phone without anyone seeing. There are many ways to avoid getting distracted during online classes, but I’ve compiled this list of my personal favorites, and routines I will definitely be adding into my study time. 


1. Put Away Distractions

This seems simple enough, but making your workspace distraction-free is actually quite challenging. Close your door to keep out any unsuspecting family, housemates or pets, and be sure to put that phone away! Keep any mobile devices away from your desk area to prevent yourself from grabbing for it when class gets dull. Keep the tabs on your web browser to a minimum to prevent any non-class related surfing.

2. Be Prepared, Mentally and Physically

While it may be tempting to roll out of bed 5 minutes before class and quickly log into that Zoom call, this is not the best idea when it comes to your academic focus. Wake yourself up enough so you can pay attention, eat a healthy breakfast, and basically, follow your typical morning routine before any in-person classes. This will decrease the likelihood that you may doze off during class, or become easily distracted by something else.

3. Set a Schedule

When your entire day, classes and all, takes place at home, it’s hard to maintain a daily schedule. Sure, you login to your Zoom calls at the same time each day, but what happens in the meantime? Planning out chores or other daily duties, along with your class schedule, can be helpful in making sure you don’t get sidetracked by them during class or study time. 

4. Create a Productive Workspace

I’m one to have a cluttered desk, and I know it’s not at all conducive to my focus during class. Creating a productive workspace, such as organizing your desk and moving any unnecessary items (you don’t need that physics notebook during microbiology!) may help to alleviate distraction. 

5. Use Your Resources

Most, if not all, of my professors record their lectures and publish them later on Canvas. This is such an easy way to catch up after class if you do find yourself missing out on important things during lecture. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out! Professors have never been more accessible than they are now. You can easily message them during the Zoom class with any questions, or send them a follow-up email afterwards. Most of the learning centers on campus have resources available, too.


While this semester will certainly be one to remember (and not for great reasons), we will persevere, as Michigan Tech students have always been a tenacious bunch. Best of luck in classes as we juggle these uncertain times, and remember Huskies always come out on top!

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